Moscow-based new wave band Upstation is surprisingly good for an act that has existed for less than a year. Their analog synths are sprinkled with bits of disco, and not afraid to hang out with some guitars. Between these guys, Cut Copy, and the Valerie collective, I hereby stop even using the term "retro", as it is clearly pointless. 21st century pop music sounds like early '80s pop music. I'm ok with that.
From their self-titled EP, available to download for free on the Upstation
Fellow Chicagoans Hey Champ just put out this remix of Andy Bell's new single "Call On Me" and I quite like it. Keeping the disco elements and most of the lyrics intact, they give it a slick makeover that makes the track even more danceable.
Bell's new solo work has had it's fair share of problems, so it's exciting to see it finally released. Feeling the album sounded too much like Erasure, he at one point ditched producer Stephen Hague and all the songs they'd recorded, and started all over again with Gabriel Pascal. Given that both of them have a long history with synthpop artists and have produced Erasure before, I'm not quite sure I see the point, but then I haven't heard what Hague did to it, either. I'd argue that the end product does not even sound that different than Erasure, but I'm pretty sure that only Andy Bell thinks that's a bad thing.
Tonight, July 1st, we're celebrating Debbie Harry's birthday. In lieu of my own story, I'd like to share someone else's. As Suzanne Shelton wrote on our
This is more appropriate than you know: Blondie was playing at ParkWest the night we opened Neo - everyone from the show turned up to make the club an immediate success. And "Hanging on the Telephone" was one on the first songs I played that night.
Ok I knew that story, but for those who don't know, Suzanne was the very first resident dj at Neo, and she's referring to its opening night on July 25, 1979. She's also responsible for convincing the owners to let her play a new kind of music called "new wave". I am occasionally blown away (and sometimes despaired by) the realization that this music has been played in this club for 31 years. That said, the early days of Neo were much different than they are today, as the club's focus has gone from punk, ska, and mod to goth and industrial to synthpop and EBM.
I feel like we're celebrating more than just Debbie Harry's birthday at the start of this Independence Day weekend. We're celebrating Blondie, we're celebrating Neo, and a country where an underground nightclub can exist for three decades.
I've been hanging out with the local disco crew lately (see events at right), and it's starting to rub off, I think, because I keep playing Maethelvin on Thursdays. You'd never believe this song is only a couple of years old; if I didn't know better, I might have guessed it was from a Miami Vice soundtrack. Probably the least known act from the
A surprisingly un-ironic bluegrass take on "Heart of Glass", Old School Freight Train's rework is not only beautiful, but a testament to the integrity of the original version by Blondie.