"We're The Pet Shop Boys" is so...meta. I don't even know where to start. Released by My Robot Friend in 2002 on the full length Hot Action, it's a song about the Pet Shop Boys, created almost entirely of Pet Shop Boys' own lyrics. As if that wasn't enough, the Pet Shop Boys themselves actually did a cover of it as a b-side to "Miracles". Oh and it doesn't stop there, either; Robbie Williams did a cover of the Pet Shop Boys cover of the song about the Pet Shop Boys. Where will the madness end!?
Done, of course, more in the Pet Shop Boys' style than his own, My Robot Friend is worth checking out for his other material as well. He relays tales of robot adventures amongst the humans set against exactly the sort of machine-made pop you'd expect from someone who does his live shows in a full body robot costume (do NOT miss his live show if you happen to come across one...think Captured By Robots, the sequel).
I really can't help but love Soviet. I'm a sucker for bands who are suckers for vintage synths, and these guys are all over it, albeit they're using old instruments to make futuristic music. Similar to Solvent, this is pop music for robots and people who live in those super techy sky homes that we were supposed to have by now. I'm pretty sure the only reason Keith Ruggiero isn't in
"Circuit Love" is from the very synthpop 2001 album We Are Eyes We Are Builders, but there's actually a newer Soviet release out called Spies In The House of Love that's a little more rock, and sounds like something I'd expect to hear in a John Hughes movie.
A few weeks ago or so, Ned Kirby of
Music journalist Dave Tompkins wrote the book How To Wreck A Nice Beach as a history of the vocoder--you know, that thing that makes everything sound like robots. It's the first book to be released on Chicago's own
There's also a mix that accompanies the book. It is, obviously, completely full of vocoders, but it's also a rather weird and sometimes surprising journey through music and soundscapes that I can't even really do justice by attempting to describe. You'll just have to listen to it.
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There, I said it. It feels good to get that out there. It's not just that it's the one of the most overplayed cheesy chunks of pop I've ever had to push the play button on, it's that it's an overplayed cheesy chunk of pop from a band that has literally hundreds of other more interesting songs in their repertoire. For crying out loud, this is Depeche Mode we're talking about here, not some one-hit wonder outfit whose entire career rests on having one memorable single released in 1985 or something. We have so many other options, let's use them.
That said, when I heard this Cph Jet cover, suddenly it changed my whole opinion. Just as even the most bland food becomes delicious when battered and deep fried, I will swallow a chiptune version of practically anything. Anders Remmer replaces Dave Gahan's adolescent-sounding vocals with adolescent-sounding robots and Vince Clarke's cheesy '80s synths with cheesy '80s 8-bit video game synths. Is this awesome? Yes, yes it is.
From the exceptionally good but difficult to find Danish Depeche Mode tribute album DMDK, also containing a terrific cover of "Strangelove" by Tiger Baby;
*Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this post do not represent the opinions of the rest of the Atomic bloggers, probably most of the Neo staff, and definitely not Kamar, who LOVES this song, no matter how many times he's heard it.
If you go back far enough in electronic music, it all sort of starts to sound like one genre--and in the very early '80s, it sort of was. Before Justice and The Presets, THIS was the original electro.
Juan Atkins will be performing live as Model 500 at Movement on May 31.
Note: Whether you've never been to Detroit or a seasoned DEMF-goer, if you're planning on attending, I highly recommend reading this article from our friends at
Posted: May 14th, 2010
at 11:36am by qbot
Tagged with 1983, 1985, american, cosmic cars, cybotron, demf, detroit, detroit electronic music festival, djs, electro, juan atkins, just quality music, justice, kraftwerk, metroplex, model 500, movement, new wave, night drive, richard davis, robots, techno, the presets
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Solvent is a robot. Now, I know what you're saying: "technically he looks like an android" or "robots do not live in Toronto, Canada" or "that's just some dude named Jason Amm", but I'm telling you, I'm a robot. I know robots. Listen to this music, and you'll hear what it is clearly the work of a robot.
It seemed like everyone at the Ghostly International anniversary party tonight was most excited about hearing his live set, and he did not disappoint. This is synthpop in it's most blippy, bleepy, Kraftwerk-inspired moment; this is what deserved the title "futurepop", because this is what we were told pop music was going to sound like in the 21st century. It's a shame that it never went the way so many of us thought it would in the '80s.
The lyrics say it all:
it doesn't seem so long ago
when i loved you, my radio
you promised me so much, but now you've changed
you always played my favorite songs
those robot-disco marathons
inspired me to buy my first machines
From his 2004 album Apples + Synthesizers, available in
I felt it was only appropriate to start with Kraftwerk. These Germans made modern electronic music what it is today. There may have been some doing it earlier, but, in the end, no one did it better. Their rhythmic, synth-driven sound influenced much of the music that was to follow. So much music has borrowed and/or stolen from them. Hip hop, House, Trance, New Wave, and Electronica, all borrowed material from Kraftwerk, especially from the Computer World album. Duran Duran, U2, Soft Cell, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, Jay-Z, Afrikaa Bambaataa and Soul Sonic Force, Coldplay, Senor Coconut, Laibach, and Peat Bog Faeries (a Celtic fusion band, thank you Wikipedia) have all used material from Kraftwerk or covered their songs.
Their early albums are usually themed. The album Radioactivity is all songs about radioactivity in the sense of radiation—“Geiger Counter”, “Uranium”, and “Radioactivity”—or activity involving radio—“Airwaves”, “Antenna”, and “Transistor”; Trans-Europe Express (an album named for a train) has the title track and “Metal on Metal” (wheels on rails) as examples. Vocals are sparse on any Kraftwerk album and are usually altered through some kind of vocoder or other sound altering device.
The easiest point of entry for someone wanting to explore Kraftwerk is the aforementioned 1981 album Computer World. Listen to this album and you will hear the source material for the samples of countless songs from the 80s and beyond. All the songs from this album—"Computer World" (1 and 2), "Pocket Calculator", "Computer Love", “Numbers”, "Home Computer", and “It's More Fun to Compute"—are solid tracks. Start your Kraftwerk tour here: