have always dabbled in a sound that seems a bit obsessed with the past. Their blippy beginnings started in Boston more than a decade ago, and have recently blossomed into a more sophisticated sound on their just released fourth album Imaginary Friends
. Over the course of their career, fans of their work could argue and point out any number of bands informing their work...makes for spirited debate, for sure. But as curators of this week's T.G.I.MixTape, Freezepop's Liz Enthusiasm and Sean T. Drinkwater put any discussion to rest, blatantly laying out the list of heroes who have helped inspire their work over the years. It's an incredibly insightful MixTape; one that peaks with love and passion for the bands these musicians can credit for sending them along their way.
Scroll Through The Player To Listen To All The Songs On the Mixtape
1. "Fantastic Cat" - Takako Minekwa
The late 90's were dark, dark times for fun electropop. I remember the first time I heard this on college radio and it was like the first crocuses pushing their way out of the ground after a long, long winter. Ok, maybe that's a little melodramatic, but I was really psyched. This song is goofy and wonderful. We listened to it at our first Freezepop band meeting.
2. "Behind The Mask" - YMO
Sometimes I don't have anything more eloquent to say, other than "this is my jam!" I guess I am feeling the Japanese electropop today.
3. "Looking For Clues" - Robert Palmer
This makes me want to have a dance party. I know it would be anachronistic, but I would dance to this while dressed up like one of the Robert Palmer girls. You should check out this video, it is good times.
4. "Me! I Disconnect From You" - Gary Numan
The first thing I did when I got my iPhone was to make that little opening bit my ringtone. It is the most perfect ringtone ever!
Sean T. Drinkwater
5. "Secret Oktober" - Duran Duran Seven and the Ragged Tiger
This track is one of the lovelier Duran tracks from this era, although it sadly does not showcase their amazing rhythm section. This was the b-side to "Union of the Snake" and in one of those unpredictable situations ended up being the superior track. Listening to this song was the first time I ever imagined making music with a computer, such is the rhythmic foundation of the synthesizer chords, likely achieved either with a sequencer or with some automated device like a drum machine triggering a gate. It was the first time rigid, pulsing music made itself perfectly clear to me, and it's been a long relationship ever since. This cut is also interesting as (I assume) it is also the genesis for Arcadia, the side project Nick Rhodes and Simon Le Bon (and Roger Taylor) recorded in Paris with visionary Alex Sadkin, producer of this track and the third Duran Duran album. Sadly Sadkin passed away in summer '87 before they had a chance to work together again. It is Duran at their prettiest, most impressionistic and absurd. Home run.
6. "Marriane" - Human League
This track has been issued as a bonus track with a couple of different versions on many re-releases of the Travelogue LP. I prefer the version with the lower octave verse vocals. The original Human League are perhaps the most under-rated electronic pop group from the '70s. Taking their cues from Giorigio Moroder and Kraftwerk (and believe me I understand taking those cues), they forged a very unique sound in the early days of electronic pop. Take the accessible, danceable poppiness of the Moroder recordings as filtered through Kraftwerk's sometimes more cold and austere arrangements and delivery and voila, The Human League. "Marianne" was, I think, proposed as a potential single at one point. It represents an exact point between the original Human League (most of whom 'departed' and formed the vaguely more commercial Heaven 17 shortly thereafter) and the later more commercial Human League who would go on to release the worldwide smash Dare the following year. I find it to be a perfect bridge to the next era and as such possibly my favorite Human League track of all because it retains the grittiness of the first two albums (Reproduction and Travelogue respectively), with a new, cleaner and slightly more 'produced' approach that both bands would end up following to its logical conclusion the next year. I would give up a year of my life to work on a reformed Human League LP with both Phil Oakey and Martyn Ware. Guys?
7. "Computer Love" - Kraftwerk
One could include any number of Kraftwerk tracks. This was just the one I thought of today. It is beautiful.
8. "It Couldn't Happen Here" - Pet Shop Boys -
A year or so after this record came out I read somewhere that this song was "about" AIDS. This is true but I believe it oversimplifies the song. The great thing about this band is that regardless of the topic, age of the listener, type of arrangement (this is not a synthpop arrangement) you can always tell what the Pet Shop Boys are singing about and it is usually, on the surface, love and loss. Throughout my adult life I have continued to revisit many of their '80s records (and beyond) and it is easy now to interpret elements of their lyrics that my sheltered high school self would have missed, but that's not the point. You don't need to have lost a friend to illness to get something out of this song, It works on every level. That is something I aspire to as a writer. A song can be very personal but still have appeal to people who don't personally know the writer. Pet Shop Boys are masters of this kind of quasi-allegorical songwriting and this is a terrific track no matter what your background. That is songwriting, breaking down barriers between people to communicate.
9. "Enjoy The Silence" - Depeche Mode
Best song, best album. The standard for our genre. Depeche Mode took their focus off of samplers and re-introduced analog synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines back into their sound (not that those things were ever fully gone). The hybrid was the thing. Still learning lessons from Violator to this day. The production of Flood and then-band member Alan Wilder is flawless. The mixes by Francois Kevorkian are shimmering and deep. Fullest recommendation if you're unfamiliar with the group or this record.
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