Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Haunted by the late Garçon Garçon

There's not much music that matters to me anymore that is discovered via old-fashioned radio. A prime example of this is Garçon Garçon, perhaps my favorite artist of the last couple of years, who came to my attention via a blog post about a remix of their song "Stay in Touch." I'd have never heard of them otherwise. They released an EP of songs and later, in 2013, an incredible single, "Instant Attraction." They have a sound that's hard to quantify, but wiki comes reasonably close with "a nostalgic blend of modern electropop with an inherent 80s teen spirit." But there's more than that; many of the tracks have a haunting quality juxtaposed with incredibly sharp pop hooks.

So, it put a dagger through my heart when the duo announced their split via social media. Especially after such a stellar new release.

This is how their tracks stacked up for me in total plays, per last.fm:

Stay In Touch (Son of Vader Remix) // 32
Instant Attraction // 27
Save Our Souls (EP)  // 23
Maybe Tonight (EP) // 21 
Take Me Out (EP) // 21
Hollywood Song (Sveta & Tokoloshe Midas Touch Remix)  // 21                                                 

It's a new Pseudo Echo album called Ultraviolet


A treat has surfaced in the form of a new Pseudo Echo album called Ultraviolet. Many '80s fans know that Pseudo Echo amounted to much more than a clever cover of the disco hit "Funky Town" … their 1984 album Autumnal Park is a masterwork of synthpop.

Over the past year or so, a couple of new tracks appeared on iTunes: "Suddenly Silently" and "Fighting the Tide." Both are excellent, retaining the old sound and knack for melody; the latter, in particular, could have been released in '84. With new tracks coming to light, I had a feeling a new album might be in the offing, and here it is, their first proper album since Race (1989), which took an unfortunate turn toward hair metal territory.

For whatever reason, iTunes and Amazon MP3 have totally different sequences for the tracks on the new set; the first and last songs are reversed, among other differences. I have yet to digest it, and I just hope it captures some of the brilliance of Autumnal Park.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Something new in the air from Information Society

Ironically, just a day or two after deciding to dig through my hundreds of CDs for my copy of their 1992 album Peace and Love, Inc., I stumbled on a new Information Society single release, "Land of the Blind." It's out there on iTunes and Amazon along with remixes and a worthy extra track, "Me and My Rhythm Box." Fans should really get all tingly over the A-side, which is instantly catchy and heavily references their classic signature hit "What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy)." It really feels like turning back the clock.

As for Peace and Love, Inc., it certainly has its advocates, but I've never been able to get into it. I really want to like it, because I love their first two albums, but it feels mostly half-hearted from start to end. My favorite track is easily "Crybaby," which illustrates again how synth ballads showcased their knack for songcraft, as did "Repetition" and "Slipping Away."

Did the commercial letdown of previous album Hack take the wind out of their sails? Perhaps. But Hack is a real gem, an underrated platter loaded with polished, radio-ready hooks. I never tire of going back to songs like "Fire Tonight" (another scorching ballad), "Move Out" and "Come With Me."

Can't wait for the new album after hearing this new tune:


Monday, March 03, 2014

Me and Elton John in Tupelo

I've been to just a handful of concerts in my life, and one of them was Elton John. Some 17 years later, I'm set to see him again in the same venue in Tupelo. That show back in the '90s was stellar, a non-stop three-hour romp from a master. Now, I'm older, and more curious about the set list. Elton isn't trying to make pop albums anymore, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, makes the cut from latter day albums like The Diving Board and The Captain & the Kid, where the focus is back-to-basics artistry. Back in the '90s, it was a huge thrill for me when he opened with "Simple Life," a modest hit that was and is one of my all-time favorites. 

I hope to be thrilled again.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jeopardy! and Crackle and the Decades Tournament

Jeopardy! is in the midst of its Decades Tournament, with the '90s segment coming up next week. In conjunction with this tournament, a bunch of old Jeopardy! episodes featuring the participating contestants, with notable names such as Chuck Forrest and Frank Spankenberg, are currently available on the streaming service known as Crackle (available via Roku and many TVs and Blu-Ray players). I've never used Crackle for more than watching about two episodes of the Dana Carvey Show, but this nostalgia trip for an iconic game show has piqued my interest. The picture quality is superb, and the '80s episodes, in particular, remind us how much the presentation and tone of Jeopardy! have evolved through the years. It's a clever use of a new mode of content delivery, and it makes me wish streaming would offer everything on demand (for a price, no doubt), so I can watch a random episode of Jeopardy! or $ale of the Century from 1984 anytime I want. As for the tournament, I can't help thinking it's going to come down to something we've seen before: Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and somebody else who doesn't have a chance.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A note to WeatherNation

Dear WeatherNation,

Now that you have acquired 20 million potential new viewers since DirecTV added you to its lineup about a month ago, please consider stepping it up a notch. 


I know it's tempting to sit back and watch with a bucket of buttery popcorn while the corporate slap fight between DirecTV and The Weather Channel plays out, but I'm finding your coverage a bit slight. I keep seeing your meteorologists reciting six-day forecasts for city after city followed by the drought monitor map every five minutes. How about some analysis and extended prognostication for the whole country?

On the plus side, your graphics and presentation are pretty sleek. Some people probably haven't even noticed that you aren't The Weather Channel since DirecTV slyly put you in their slot at 362. Fate has smiled upon you: DirecTV chose to make an example of The Weather Channel, and AccuWeather didn't have their channel ready to go yet. It's your moment; don't fumble.

Thanks and good luck,
Jebb

Thursday, January 30, 2014

American Horror Story and Fleetwood Mac's "Seven Wonders"

Kudos to American Horror Story for putting the spotlight on one of witchy woman Stevie Nicks' best efforts with Fleetwood Mac, "Seven Wonders," in the opening sequence of the final episode of the Coven season; the enchanted #19 hit from 1987 was the perfect fit for the competition for supremacy that filled the final episode:



I wish this show a long life, but it has yet to come up with a season that doesn't grow tedious before it wraps things up. Jessica Lange is magical, however, and I'm afraid her presence will be sorely missed when she hangs it up after the next installment. It was a hoot to have Nicks participate in the show, and props to Kathy Bates for a great turn, as well.