In the music industry, fame can be fleeting but true success is measured by the lasting impact the musician’s art has on the listener/consumer. For example, let’s look back at the year 2000. There were a lot of big worldwide hits that year by well-known artists (U2, Bon Jovi, Madonna, Britney Spears, etc.) and some long-forgotten artists as well (Darude, BBMak, Wheatus, MxPx). While many of the hits from that year are still fondly remembered, an equal amount of chart-climbers have been tossed aside like an old stick of bubble gum – chewed up and spit out once they were out of flavor. However, there are singles released in ’00 that were not only lovingly embraced by music fans but also inspired a new generation of musicians. A few of those – including “Babylon” – were released by British singer/songwriter David Gray. The success of his WHITE LADDER album took many by surprise yet it was far from an overnight success…
One of the most attractive features of the Trip Hop genre was it’s haunting quality. While closely associated with the Downtempo and Chill movements, the best Trip Hop provided beauty with an unsettling edge. Listening to Trip Hop should be like walking into an ancient mansion – you are wrapped in beauty but you can feel the presence of something else. The Chill is replaced by chills. And THAT is what makes Trip Hop special. And Morcheeba continues to be the genre’s most consistent and beloved bands – they put the ‘trip’ in Trip Hop.
Although there is a dark side lurking beneath the surface, the music of Electronic duo Sofi Tukker is upbeat, fun and adventurous. While the duo’s music is aimed for the feet, there’s certainly a lot to wrap our head around. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let me introduce you to Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern AKA Sofi Tukker. Their name may evoke the spirit of legendary stage/screen/radio icon Sophie Tucker, but this duo’s music is world’s away from the original Sophie’s bawdy burlesque. Sofi Tukker’s two-year journey to their debut album, TREEHOUSE, has included a Grammy nomination, loads of great press and a coveted iPhone 7 commercial spot. Other artists toil away in obscurity for years, anxiously awaiting their time in the spotlight. However, Sofi Tukker’s combination of Pop smarts and luck have put them on the fast track to the front of the line.
OK, let’s get this out of the way: anyone expecting a new Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (OMD) full-length filled back to front with songs tailor-made for radio are going to be sorely disappointed. However, if you are looking for a classic OMD album that blends commercial pop smarts with their darker experimental side are going to be over the moon. THE PUNISHMENT OF LUXURY (TPOL) is that album and so much more! While their 1983 release DAZZLE SHIPS may have pushed the experimental envelope too far for some of their fanbase, TPOL strikes the perfect balance between Synthpop maestros and Electronic Music pioneers.
Super, the 13th studio album by British duo Pet Shop Boys, is a prime example of why the Electronic/Dance act will never be part of a nostalgic ‘80s package tour – they are too busy moving into the future to live in the past. When they scored their first big hit 31 years ago with “West End Girls,” PSB were a delicious mixture of smarmy Pop and then-modern Electronica. Vocalist Neil Tennant’s deadpan (and slightly campy) vocals and Chris Lowe’s melodic, percolating Euro/Electropop backdrop made for some exciting records back in the day, earning them worldwide success and hits in every corner of the world. By the ‘90s, their star had faded a bit in the U.S. although they still released innovative and exciting albums that were snapped up by audiences In vastly different time zones than the States. Thankfully, PSB have continued to make fresh, forward-thinking records over the years. They’ve kept on top of Dance and Electronic music trends and have embraced them wholeheartedly. You’ll still find elements of their ‘80s and ‘90s sound on Super but you’ll be sorely disappointed if you’re looking for “West End Girls 2016” because Neil and Chris have moved on.