Wednesday, July 18, 2007

From The Vault: The Sights, "So Much For Everlasting Love"

Wow, it's about time I paid attention to this blog again, isn't it?

Anyway, next blog entry I want to reveal to you two reasons why the hopes for quality New Wave representation on YouTube are at the highest they've been in months, but first, a song whose glory has been reminded to me by a thread I recently perused on the New Wave Outpost boards. Like the Scars, the NWO gave me the (glorious) introduction to this song.

The Sights were a group from Los Angeles that existed, for all intents and purposes, between 1981 - 1982. They put out two self-released EPs, So Much For Everlasting Love and Virginia, before fading into total obscurity. Little is known of the band itself aside from the precious little that has been revealed by those who followed the Southern California New Wave/powerpop scene back in the early '80s. The EPs themselves are incredibly rare finds; I myself have been waiting to find them on MusicStack (but with little success) for nearly two years. Also extremely rare is the music video for the title track from the first EP, which is the lone song of theirs I am well acquainted with. It is a low-down and dirty track, very lyrically lewd and obscene without being offensive, and the music is dark and dirgey for it being classically power pop.

From looking at a scanned-in picture of the back of the So Much For Everlasting Love EP (the front is pictured above), this is what I can ascertain are the lyrics for said title track:

She never sees the faces
Of the men who drive the cars that roll by
Calloused in dark places
But I'm savin' up to make her mine
So much for everlasting love

She counts her stains [?] and money
As the sunlight caught her hobbling home
Alone beneath her covers
She'll be counting all the fiancees she's blown
So much for everlasting love

I'd buy her twenty-dollar dinners
If she'd tell me I'm the only one
I'd do anything to win her
If her eyes would say she's havin' fun
So much for everlasting love

The writing and production are credited to The Sights, whose members are listed on a French powerpop site as being Roger Richardson (guitar, vocals), Bryan Goff (guitar). Chris Shaw (bass), and Mark Bustam (drums). Curiously, I once received an unsolicited email message from a young male who purported to be the son of Roger Richardson and who offered up several mp3 files of his father's band's music, but he never got back to me so I don't know if he was really who he claimed to be.

I invite you to enjoy The Sights' "So Much For Everlasting Love" on your own terms. Just right-click on the link and select save to download and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Quick little New Wave-related post

because I haven't had much time to really think about the next thing I could blog about on this, well, blog.

Weird Connections: From Dave Vanian to Gary Jules.

Dave Vanian was a member of The Damned, along with Captain Sensible.

Captain Sensible released a solo single that was produced by Tony Mansfield (New Musik).

Tony Mansfield did a lot of production work for Naked Eyes.

Naked Eyes started out as a group called Neon, featuring two other musicians named Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal.

Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal later formed their own group called Tears For Fears.

Tears For Fears released an early single called "Mad World".

Gary Jules covered "Mad World" for the Donnie Darko soundtrack. (It became a surprise hit.)

There you go, all the connections from Dave Vanian to Gary Jules.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I feel like doing things on this blog tonight a la my good friend Anthony, who posts multiple blog posts each and every day without titling any of them. Well, each day save for the few days when he just cannot get to a computer. I admire his dedication.

Anyway, I've been trying to work out a feasable playlist order for the aforementioned proposed playlist on New Wave (I know L. would have a problem with me using that term, but it's the term I'm most comfortable with) instrumentals, and it strikes me as odd that the only instrumental that stands out is the one by the Scars, and that's because it's the only instrumental in the lot that does not have a lick of synth sound in it. If it had even a tiny amount of synthesized sound permeating the background, I could transition it very well either into or out from the Blancmange "Sad Day" instrumental, perhaps also being bookmarked by the slow version of Duran Duran's "Faith In This Colour", because the two instrumentals are the only other two that place as much of an emphasis on guitar sounds as does "Little Boy". And then it started to dawn on me that perhaps my ideal slice of musical heaven should not lie directly in the path of breathy keyboards and swirly synths, but rather a melange of those sounds and the classically rockier, guitar-heavy post-punk sound as evidenced by the Scars and their Scottish contemporaries.

In other words, basically what I've noticed are the descriptor marks for Duran Duran's debut album. Their most guitar-heavy work of the '80s, the debut album provided a logical, only slightly more refined extension of what they were previously doing as that little club band from Birmingham that had tried to shop around its demo tape just two years prior and with a different lead singer (Andy Wickett, even more royally screwed by history than Stephen Duffy). At that time, the West Midlands bleak industrialness shone through in the band's music, while the band itself were largely products of this setting. (Nick Rhodes's father was a heating engineer, while Roger Taylor's father was employed as a sheet metal worker. John Taylor's father was a comparatively posh "sales manager". Wickett's father's employment is unknown.) From that atmosphere combined with the band's shared love and interest in glam rock came the ideal environment for a sound that was strongly post-punk in its leanings. Listen to any song off that demo tape, now being hawked by Wickett on his personal site, and see.

So anyway, I'm sure you're tired of me going on about That Band, but when they have played as important a part of my life as they have, to where they are the focal point for a lot, if not virtually all, of my contemporary musical interests, they're bound to always swirl around in the deep recesses of my brain. And I think I am going to have an easier time of this playlist project if I can find an instrumental that fits that aesthetic really well.
Over at the New Wave Outpost, there's been a thread going on devoted to NW (and "New Wave") instrumentals, which is something I've been thinking about for the past six months. After being wholly addicted to "Alles Klar" by Ultravox, then the Richard James Burgess/Rusty Egan instrumental "R.E.R.B.", under the Shock imprint (perhaps the mime troupe performed a routine to this song), then the Scars' one and only instrumental "Little Boy", I've been wondering what other instrumentals that one could file under the New Wave genre were out there, that I could really get into and fall in love with. I mean, I'm already very well familiar with Duran Duran's and Japan's instrumentals, and Arcadia's blissful extended remix of "Rose Arcana" remains in my mind the acme of instrumentals flying the banner of what we Americans would consider New Wave, but I've become very curious about what other similar instrumentals there were like the aforementioned. So the thread has become a wonderful little resource for me. Especially since it reminded me about "Sad Day" by Blancmange, which I feel very bad about forgetting.

OMG, and Pigbag, "Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag".

And the two Visage instrumentals I can think of at the moment (again with the Rusty Egan) -- "Moon Over Moscow" and "Whispers". Especially "Whispers". Most definitely and especially "Whispers".

And "Astradyne" by Ultravox.

And the spookiest thing I have ever heard in my entire life, Depeche Mode's "Pimpf".

I think I'm going to have to make this into the newest playlist. All of these glorious, atmospheric instrumentals, without a hint of boring noodling about.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Some More Quick Bursts Of Energy: Landscape, Copy-And-Paste

(a.) Listening to the first Landscape album from 1979 now. Am completely astounded by how, even though it starts off with the completely futuristic Moogpop of "Japan", the rest of the album sounds very... '70s. Like what you would expect to hear on a "smooth contemporary jazz" radio station from around that time period, right next to the Herb Alpert and George Benson. It's a little on the disappointing side, really. I was hoping, because of "Japan" and the undeniably talented Richard James Burgess, to find an album full of excitement and thrills. Instead I'm listening to WKRP in Cincinnati. I did not sign up for that. And yes, it would be nice to listen to were I in the mood to laze about and tune the rest of the world out, but I'm in search of heady synthpop instrumental delights, something along the lines of Burgess's and Rusty Egan's magnum opus, "R.E.R.B.", recorded under the Shock imprint. (Does anyone know if the actual Shock performed a routine to this song?) Instead I've got what knitted sweatered, fuzzy bearded, long haired former hipster types-turned-imitation professorial types would have enjoyed listening to. NO. I am NOT about that. I would rather listen to something that lurex-clad, clean-shaven, makeup-donning, slicked-back glamour pusses would have danced their tails off to in an ultra-chic NuRo/futurist nightclub.

(b.) Doing a lazy thing by copying and pasting something I wrote on another forum that I feel is necessary to record over here because of its overall philosophical importance (this would be in response to a question about what New Wave is, BTW):

I tend to think that the New Wave label has retroactively been applied to anything that provided a real alternative to the mainstream rock and pop music that was infiltrating the American airwaves in the late '70s and early '80s. So I feel like [other username redacted out of privacy concerns]* is probably closest to the truth of the matter as it pertains to contemporary usage.

I don't know if this is something that has helped or harmed that which is "authentically" New Wave, though. I didn't really live through that era as far as actually experiencing it first-hand. I was a little baby when the '80s began and was in nursery school when that which is now labeled New Wave was at its most commercially successful. I do know, however, that the fact that the "New Wave" label has been applied as broadly as it has HAS helped ME out, insofar as being able to describe what my primary musical interests are goes. All I have to do is mention "I like New Wave" and that pretty much says it all.

I do know that I am addicted to what I consider to be "New Wave" music. I'm deeply grateful to those artists for creating music which is something other than what John Cougar Mellencamp, for example, was doing, and I think that the New Wave musical genre doesn't get enough credit for kick-starting the alternative rock revolution that would happen ten years down the line. I mean, if you're like me and consider power pop to be a New Wave subgenre, then Nirvana, with their overt power pop influences on display, were among the first of the nu-New Wavers.

Just my take on the matter.

*: This is what the person, whose board username I have chosen not to reveal out of the sake of his/her own privacy, wrote that I was generally agreeing with:

No offense taken! I've said it before in other threads, but all I heard growing up in Syracuse in the mid to late 70's was classic rock shit. ANYTHING different, punk, power pop, new wave all got lumped together by my group of friends. Early bands like Cheap Trick, Cars, Police, Pretenders, Blondie, Ramones, Patti Smith, etc. all fit together in what we considered "new wave." Although I know the difference between punk & new wave, I still use that umbrella term for a lot of differing groups, even though I know they don't always fit into what came after 1980.

It's just my shorthand way of saying "turn that Journey crap off!"

I would actually like to hear from the individuals who did actually and truly lived through the New Wave era (vs. just toddling through the latter parts of same) to get their own perspective of what it was really like back then and what the proper definition of New Wave is/should be. Is it really this catch-all term that I've been using as "New Wave", or is it something much less little-c catholic in its scope?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Short Bursts Of Energy: Simple Minds, Alphaville

Forgive me.

I've been indulging in the tasteful lately.

I've been listening to -- and not getting enough of -- Simple Minds' Reel To Real Cacophany lately. "Citizen (Dance Of Youth)" and "Premonition" are two songs that I have been particularly taken by. And because of the fact that this album is one of those albums everyone pretty much agrees on in terms of critical acceptance, I don't really feel like I could add anything unique to the discussion. Except to say this -- it is stunning how exceptionally distinct this album is from the latter '80s-era Simple Minds releases, when they found themselves as close to the mainstream as they were ever going to be and with John Hughes knocking down their doors in search of a performance. I wonder if the band knew that that song, a song they didn't even write, would turn out to be their most memorable and popular song.

I've also been indulging in the not-so-tasteful, at least not according to the critical massive. Alphaville are one of the uniquely '80s artists whose music is not going to be in for a new and fresh critical reevaluation anytime soon, yet I find their anthemic music, soaring with hope and wonder, to be the perfect music for a post-cynical era that offers up few heroes and even fewer dreams. When the listener wraps his/her ears around such aural candy as Afternoons In Utopia and Forever Young, the swirling, soaring synthesizer sounds cause a swooning, soothing sensation in the listener's deepest cerebral recesses. (Sorry about the alliterative usage there.) It really feels as though one could be carried away on a wisp of wind after listening to one of Alphaville's gorgeous and lush productions, and it definitely strikes a blow against preconceived notions based upon origins when you take into consideration the band's German origins. They certainly don't sound Teutonic or aggressive. Their hyperromantic sensibilities appear to be more in tune with what people would expect from the Spanish! But these Berlin non-blondes prove that just because you come from a land traditionally associated with reserved manners and emotions doesn't necessarily mean you will exhibit that standoffishness yourself.

So I suppose all is right in the world. I vacillate between the credible and not-so credible, as always.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Civil War Outside My Head: '90s Teens vs. Today's Teens and '80s Obsession

It is blowing my mind how many teenagers these days appear to have an honest adoration for the music and pop culture of the '80s. I have never seen so many individuals between the ages of 13 and 19 claim to be fans of such artists as Depeche Mode or Duran Duran. It is hardly the kind of thing I could have predicted even approximately seven years ago, back when we ushered in the 21st Century. And while I couldn't be more delighted that my beloved '80s is getting some positive attention from a generation younger than my own, at the same time it feels disorientating, throwing me into a confused eddy of conflicting thoughts and emotions.

First off, why is this happening? I suppose part of it could be the influence of '80s pop music upon the present musical landscape. When such mainstream pop acts as Gwen Stefani and Justin Timberlake and credible indie acts such as The Killers and Franz Ferdinand can both proclaim heavy and devoted influence by some of the preeminent pop music artists of the '80s, I suppose that would turn the young people's attentions to that long-unexplored genre. I suppose I should also look at the increasing distance time-wise between the '80s and today. Much like how the youth of my generation embraced patently '70s artists such as Neil Young and christened them once more with the "cool" label, the time would be right at the present moment to openly and unreservedly embrace the artists who defined the '80s. Moreover, teenaged adolescence is supposed to be about being rebellious, and what could be more rebellious in the wake of the flannel-clad '90s than to bask in the warm glow of the '80s' fine tailoring?

So I suppose I can "get it" on a logical basis. Still, I can't help but think: Why now? Why are these young people being afforded the opportunity to be able to interact with like-minded individuals in their own age range when I was having incredible difficulties doing the same just ten years ago? I know, I know. This is the green-eyed monster in me talking. I should not let myself be caught up in jealousy but rather celebrate the fact that these younger people will be able and willing to carry the '80s-loving torch for the scattered few '80s adorers in my generation/age range. However, I would have loved for there to be more people my own age who loved this pop cultural decade/era in the same manner and under similar circumstances that I did.

Back when YouTube was still working (i.e. before Viacom became complete and utter assholes), I would gaze at the lengthy and impressive list of retro '80s music videos resident on the site and would be immediately awed. Here were the fabled videos I had only just heard about! I spent many a stolen moment running over to YouTube to view as many of those classic music videos as time would allow. But at the same time I would notice that a lot of the individuals commenting favorably about many of those videos were individuals who were in their teens, and that's when it dawned on me how much easier this new generation of '80s retro fans had it. They had YouTube at their disposal to view any/all '80s videos and commercials and other video tidbits. They could congregate together on groups on MySpace and Yahoo! and discuss the aspects of '80s fandom they particularly enjoyed. They could order up virutally any vinyl record, download virtually any mp3, listen to a rich and impressive mixture of '80s retro radio stations online, Google all manner of '80s pop culture accoutrements. For this new generation of '80s fetishists, the '80s is so much more available than it could have ever been for the average teenaged '80s fanatic in my age group.

However, I don't want to discourage that kind of '80s adoration from or by anyone. I don't want to devolve into wanting to foment any sort of intertribal conflict amongst the '80s favoring massive. Heaven knows the challenges we still have yet to face, particularly amongst the clueless and out-of-touch mainstream that still believes that that which is patently '80s are still ripe for ridicule. While fashion choices are appearing to be increasingly influenced by the prototypical fashions of the '80s, one would still be hard-pressed to find the fluffy-sweatered, frilly-bloused aspects of '80s fashions that it appears that real '80s teenaged girls donned. While '80s movies directed at teen audiences have always been readily available on DVD and at least one contemporary movie, Not Another Teenage Movie, paid earnest homage to that filmic genre, there is really nothing that compares to the experience of actually viewing a movie on the big screen. And Viacom's pig-headed actions both online and on the air provide evidence that The Corporation That The Eighties Built is still uncomfortable with actually acknowledging that history and giving others the opportunity to discover or remember it.

You know, I think my problem is that I feel like I'm stuck with Middle Child Syndrome here. Stuck in the middle between the generation that embraced the '80s as a contemporary part of their own teenaged adolesences and the generation that is embracing the '80s as a now-relevant, newly important reference point for contemporary pop culture, I differ from both in that I came into that adoration while said adoration was considered passe. Finding individuals in their mid - late 20s who could honestly tell you they favored the '80s above all other pop cultural decades will be a monumental task. Yet I logically realize that I am to be an exemplar figure for this new generation of '80s lovers, someone from whom inspiration, advice, and lessons only experience can give will be derived. Yet I am a part of the unwritten story that I alone can write, the unspoken history that I alone can tell, and because of that I suppose I should begin to really tell it, on an honest and noncontrived manner that will allow for that window to finally be opened. It is my full intent, now that I have the time to do so, to honor that promise.