Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Here comes the rain again....

With various wildfires in my country burning an area larger than the state of Rhode Island, it turns out that that news isn't sensational enough for those in the ratings game - now we have to waste tax payer dollars on air drops to make them even more sensational for the six o'clock news. Click on the image for a link the LA Times article on 'CNN Drops'.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Riviera F

Last night I was supposed to go see a production of Grease at Tacoma Musical Playhouse. However, due to a ticket mix-up, that didn't happen and the musical will be seen today instead. After briefly debating if a trip to the wine bar was in order, it was decided that spending some time at home sounded more enjoyable. What happened then was another potentially great musical discovery: Riviera F.

After stumbling upon their myspace page, the song 'International Lover' grabbed me right away. It has an early '80s feel to it with obvious influences from Duran Duran's eponymous debut and Rio albums. Given that both of those records are New Wave classics, to hear hints of them on 'International Lover' was quite a joy. After sampling a few more of Riviera F's songs, it was 'International Lover' that received the most spins and head bopping.

Unable to get Riviera F out of my head, research on them continued this morning - a visit to their official website was in order. To offer a brief history, the band was formed when Russian born singer Alexa Marlen and Dutch guitarist Kairo Sin met at a London art college. Initially they recorded demo tracks using a casio keyboard and a simple drum machine. Over time their sound developed - Logan Sky was added to the lineup of the band and more instruments were brought into the mix.

Now here is the interesting part: after a chance meeting with Duran Duran keyboard player Nick Rhodes, (there seems to be a lot of those 'chance meetings' in the world of music, doesn't there?) Rhodes signed as on as producer of Riviera F's debut release which just happens to be 'International Lover'. As it turns out, all those connections between their music and Duran Duran's music are there for a very good reason, indeed!

As far we here at Computer Love can tell, the girls are busy promoting their latest release, the brilliant 'Now we've got Europe' which you can hear on their myspace page. However, we've decided to post the video for the song that was our first glimpse into the world of Riviera F - International Lover.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Katsen gives Computer Love some lovin'

I feel the need to toot my own horn: today I noticed that Katsen mentioned this little blog of mine on their myspace page. To have them notice my posting about their music is really quite an honor; I am very tickled to know that Katsen took the time to read my blog (and acknowledge it!). This is even more exciting for me since I am still new to the blogosphere and I want to do my part to promote great electronic bands such as Katsen. Since Katsen made mention of this blog, traffic to this space has greatly increased. So, a big thank you to Katsen and the folks at Electronically Yours for taking notice. Hold on tight, this ride known as Computer Love has just begun!

Starcluster ft. Marc Almond

Starcluster is another band that is new to me. I learned of them whilst reading the official Marsheaux forum; there is a section on that forum dedicated to new electronic bands, and Starcluster was mentioned by one of the forum users. After taking one listen of their song 'Smoke and Mirrors' which features the brilliant Marc Almond on vocals, I knew I had to buy the song. After a bit of hunting online, I found 'Smoke and Mirrors' on iTunes bundled with two other tracks and various remixes of 'Smoke and Mirrors'. Remixes, in general, do nothing for me, but I have to say that even the remixes of this song turn me on. There is definitely a huge Kraftwerk influence in their music - which is never a bad thing, is it? I highly encourage everyone to check out Starcluster.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Introducting Katsen

There is a good reason why Electronically Yours is one of my favorite websites - their taste in music is right up my alley. Their latest feature is a band from Brighton called Katsen. Their debut video is a song called 'Where nobody can find us'. I think it's brilliant - amazing even. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Worst Song Ever?

As mentioned in my previous post, some pop music is just shamelessly bad. Enter Supersister. I discovered this song while reading Northern Kind's blog and was both amused and horrified by it.

Being that I live in the Seattle area, I can't help but think that Starbucks should consider using this track in a promo add - maybe that would help turn their profits around...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I Like You Girl!

One of the great things about pop music is that it spans the spectrum in terms of how serious artists take themselves. I recently read an Alison Moyet interview where she said 'I have no sense of immortality, and I dislike the smoke and mirrors that some acts use to cover up their extreme common mundaneity'. Too true Alison, too true.

Of course, on the opposite end of that spectrum are the trite boy and girl bands that we're all supposed to think are cute. We're supposed to have our favorite member, cut our hair like them, put posters of them on our walls, buy their records, then pretend they are serious musicians who are victims of their own mass popularity. We're also made to pretend that we are shocked (sometimes even a bit horrified) when our favorite member of a girl or boy band turns out to be gay or becomes pregnant at 14. Soccer moms across the country can be heard saying 'I thought so and so had moral values; I can't believe this!'. Or, 'so and so didn't LOOK gay!'.

My point is that the beauty of pop music is that it can be anything you want it to be - serious, trite, or all things in between. It can be intelligent and insightful, or it can be a bunch of a trashy girls or boys singing about how difficult it is to be popular in high school these days - it's your choice.

With that in mind, there is a brilliant web series on Youtube called 'Toyboize'. It chronicles the reunion of a fictional '80s child band. Enough said.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Why I'm Afraid of Grace Jones - Part One of an Infinite Series

I used to think Grace Jones was kinda cool - that was between the years of 1984-86 when Grace teamed up with Duran Duran members Nick Rhodes, Simon Le Bon and Roger Taylor to record the amazing single 'Election Day' for the Arcadia album, 'So Red the Rose'. During that time, she also played a bad girl in a bond film, and did some pretty bad-ass commercials for motor bikes. Her coolness ends there.

Since then, Grace has modeled herself as not being quite human nor machine, neither male or female, neither earthling nor space creature, neither...well, you get my point: she's a freak. And, her new incarnation does little to soften her image either.

I hesitate to post her new video here, but in order to fully express my fear of her, and in the interest of not being alone in the feeling that I need to bathe after watching this video, I have no other choice but to do so.

Monday, July 7, 2008

More on Roisin Murphy

(Left: Untitled Film Still by Cindy Sherman)

I was browsing through Roisin's youtube page this weekend and was delighted to learn that her video for 'You Know Me Better' was inspired by the artist Cindy Sherman. I happen to be a fan of Cindy's work, and I think Roisin's video is a good representation of Cindy's famous Untitled Film Stills.

Check out the video for 'You Know Me Better', pasted below.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Roisin Murphy

O...M...G - check out this video. i just discovered it this morning while downloading HBOs 'Rome' on iTunes. Roisin Murphy is kinda great, but i'm not quite sure what to make of this video: note the lobster sequence...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Diamonds Are Forever.

Stop Radioactivity!

(Left: Kraftwerk)

According to Wikipedia, "Kraftwerk's lyrics deal with post-war European urban life and technology—traveling by car on the Autobahn, traveling by train, using home computers, and the like. Usually, the lyrics are very minimal but reveal both an innocent celebration of, and a knowing caution about, the modern world, as well as playing an integral role in the rhythmic structure of the songs. Many of Kraftwerk's songs express the paradoxical nature of modern urban life—a strong sense of alienation existing side-by-side with a celebration of the joys of modern technology."

With recent reports saying that the North Pole will likely melt this summer, I have been doing a lot of thinking about our impact on the environment and, I've also been listening to a lot of Kraftwerk...hmmmm....I wonder if the two are connected?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

No! No! No!

Part of the reason why I decided to write a pop music blog is because of the countless moments in my life in which pop music has inspired me to learn. For me, music isn't just about the feeling and emotion it evokes - it's also about the subject matter of the song. Electronic music from the '80s is very appealing to me because the songs are not often about typical pop music subjects like love, sex and loss. Instead, you had people like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark taking a different, and in my opinion, more intelligent approach to song writing. They wrote songs about Joan of Arc, Submarines and Sealand. They pioneered musical special effects with computers and keyboards but managed to make their music accessible by always being mindful of melody, rhythm and harmony.

I didn't always understand the subject matter of songs I was listening to when I was younger, but that's what made them so brilliant to me. One such song, Tesla Girls, was a huge favorite of mine when I was younger. 'What was a Tesla Girl?' I wondered. Were Tesla Girls simply groupies of the hideous American band, Tesla? Surely OMD were too classy to write about band groupies.

(above: 12" single sleeve for Tesla Girls)

So, with a little effort I plunged head first into this mystery - who were these Tesla Girls, and why were they testing out things? To my delight, I discovered that Tesla Girls is actually about the famous scientist Nikola Tesla. I learned all about his discoveries in mechanical engineering and robotics, physics, as well as the invention of the radio. I learned about his tragic fall from grace, to being labeled a 'Mad Scientist' , to dying penniless in a New York hotel. The story of Tesla is a fascinating one, and one that I would like to examine further. However, the point is that my science classes in school didn't teach me these things about Telsa - OMD taught me these things - and, they did it all with a pulsing electro beat, a soaring chorus and lots of voices singing 'No! No! No!'.

(Left: Nikola Tesla)

Monday, June 30, 2008

I'm not N'Sync with Lance Bass

Over the weekend my partner made the comment that he thought Lance Bass was very 'striking'. I, in turn, said that I thought Neil Patrick Harris was rather good looking. My partner didn't agree with me, and thus a very pointless conversation surrounding the hotness factor of Lance Bass and Neil Patrick Harris began. I maintain that Lance Bass has a freakish jawline and eyes that are too small (and not to mention of a color not found in nature) for his head. In other words, he looks like your typical boy band tart. On the other hand, my partner believes that Neil Patrick Harris still looks like he never grew out of that awkward stage of puberty where your limbs are either too short or too large for your frame, and your face looks like a breeding ground for new forms of bacteria. So, in light of our discussion, I have started a poll asking you who you are N'Sync with: Lance, or Neil?

(Left: Freak of Nature Lance Bass; Right: Neil Patrick Harris)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pet Shop Boys in the Studio

The Pet Shop Boys are hard at work in the studio with production team Xenomania. The new album, which is due out in early 2009, will feature some songs co-written by the producers. I'm personally excited to hear what those collaborations sound like, as most Pet Shop Boys songs are self-penned. If we are lucky, hopefully we will have a new PSB single out before Christmas.

In other Pet Shop Boys related news, their video for the song Integral won a Cyber Lion Award at Cannes Film Festival last week.

(Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Some Songs Make You Feel Alive!

Every now and then a song comes along that gives you such an inexplicable surge of energy that the resulting high is greater than anything you could possibly imagine. This is one of those songs for me. It's called 'Bizarre Love Duo' by Marsheaux. The energy level in this track is beyond description - just when you think it's done kicking you in the face, it gets right back up and hits you again.

Bizarre Love Duo is the second track on Marsheaux's Ghost single, which is presently available on 7" vinyl or digital download at Apple iTunes or Amazon.com.

One last note: I'm not totally sure of this, but I think the girls are making fine use of a Speak and Spell toy on this song - listen for its solo in the Middle 8 and at the very end of the track.

Original Simple Minds Lineup Reform

One of my favorite '80s bands, Simple Minds, has reformed. While the band has continued to record and play live shows over the years, this will mark the first time in 27 years that the original lineup has recorded material together.

(Simple Minds in 1984)

When it comes to band reunions, I am always a bit skeptical - note the Duran Duran reformation debacle of 2001. At the same time however, I am always a sucker for reunions if for no other reason than the nostalgia affect.

According to reports, Simple Minds have recorded enough material for two new records. Hopefully this will mark a glorious return to form for one of New Wave's pioneering acts.

Goldfrapp Live at Albert Hall

If my vacation to Britain had not been delayed, I might have been able to see the amazing Goldfrapp in concert. It sounds like their recent gig at Albert Hall was quite brilliant according to Popjustice.

(above: Alison Goldfrapp of Goldfrapp)

Thursday, June 26, 2008


(above: Steve Strange of Visage)

My office at work happens to share space with our company's training area. Yesterday a training was in progress, so I decided to fire up my iPod to try and drown out the noise. While I have been spending a lot of time listening to a rather fabulous iMix I recently put together, I opted instead to listen to Visage.

To offer a brief history, Visage was formed in 1978 by Steve Strange and Midge Ure of Ultravox fame. They were among a group of English bands such as Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran that pioneered the New Romantic movement of the early '80s. Central to the culture surrounding the New Romantics was the blending of fashion - often in exaggerated forms, and visual artistry. Male new romantics often wore androgynous clothing, cosmetics and flamboyant hairdos. They were also unique in that their music was primarily driven by electronic keyboards, synthesizers and computers: not guitars. As such, the music that emerged from the New Romantics tended to have a different mood, feel, tone, and visual appeal than their rock music counterparts.

While I have been a fan of Visage's pioneering efforts in music for some time, my record collection was strangely void of any of their albums. That changed in 2006 when I was in England with my partner. I spend many a day touring London record shops, and to my delight, I was able to find a number of discs that are rarely found here in the States: at least not without a hefty import markup price attached to them.

One of those discs I stumbled upon was the Visage compilation album 'Damned Don't Cry'. I bought it mostly for the song 'Fade to Grey', a classic example of New Romanticism. Today, however, I would like to share with you Visage's eponymous track released on their eponymous album.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Marsheaux - Hanging On

Marsheaux are a Greek electronic duo from Thessaloniki, Greece. Comprised of Marianthi and Sophie, the girls formed Marsheaux in 2000 and recorded a cover of the classic electronic instrumental, Popcorn! as their debut single, which was released to much critical acclaim in Greece. I discovered Marsheaux in 2007 on Electronically Yours, a website that was first launched as a Human League fan page. Through the years EY has evolved to become one of the major portals of news and information on the internet for all things electronica.

(Marsheaux: Left, Marianthi; Right, Sophie.)

For my first post, I thought it only appropriate to share with you 'Hanging On' the first single from the girls second album 'Peek-a-Boo', which was released in 2007. I love how the girls have captured the spirit of the '80s in this song as well as the video. In fact, both girls write the majority of their demo tracks using the microKORG, a classic keyboard that can be heard on many electronic albums representative of the electronic music movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s. I feel it's important to note this attention to detail because electronic music today is primarily dominated by digital music looping machines that require little to no talent on the part of the user. At a time when music creation has turned, in large part, into the mixing of prepackaged sounds, it is refreshing to see a crop of young musicians using machines to create their own set of sounds, rhythms, melodies and harmonies.

When I first discovered Marsheaux I knew I had stumbled onto something special. You can learn more about Marsheaux at their official forum. Enjoy!