Show 225: An Examination of Synth-Pop, Damian Kulash on Youtube, Broken Bells Review
Listen to the MP3 Stream of this show: (link)
Download the Podcast: (Download the MP3)
1 Jim and Greg start off the show with some actual good music industry news. The internet music service Pandora has reported its first profitable quarter since launching a decade ago. Pandora seemed to be on the path of many internet-startups of the early 2000’s, but now it can boast about 48 million users and 100 million dollar projected earning for 2010. To this we say Mazel Tov.
2 Ok Go has been making a lot of news recently. First, after some debates with their label EMI, they released a free, embeddable video for their new song “This Too Shall Pass.” This is a follow-up to the famous 2006 treadmills video for “Here It Goes Again,” which has been viewed over 50 million times. The band’s lead singer Damian Kulash discussed his philosophy on viral videos in an op-ed in the New York Times. And just last week the band revealed that it had split from EMI to form a new label Paracadute. Prior to this announcement Jim and Greg spoke to Kulash about going viral, labels and going rogue.
3 Next Jim and Greg embark on one of their trademark genre explorations. They’ve mentioned the term “Synth-Pop” a lot in the past year. The electronic sound of the 1980’s has been heavily influencing a slew of new bands including Passion Pit, MGMT and Phoenix. So where does that synth sound come from? Of course, Jim traces a line directly to Kraftwerk and Brian Eno, but notes that it wasn’t until technology became cheap and portable that it really came into the mainstream. He and Greg cite Daniel Miller of The Normal as an example of an artist who really embraced synthesizers and didn’t merely use them to replicate other instruments. And acts like the Human League developed the sound further to have more warmth and emotion.
4 Jim and Greg review the self-titled debut from Broken Bells, the new collaboration between James Mercer of The Shins and Danger Mouse. This is an unexpected pairing, but Jim and Greg are both impressed to hear each artist stretching. Greg notes that both are minimalists in their own right. And the first half of the record has one fine track after another. But he finds the 2nd half slightly disappointing. Overall, though Greg gives Broken Bells a Buy It rating. Jim doesn’t understand Greg’s complaints. He doesn’t think the album falls off at any point. It’s a perfect collection of pop songs and deserves a Buy It.
Songs Featured in Show #225
Elvis Costello, "Radio Sweetheart," My Aim Is True, 1977
OK Go, "This Too Shall Pass," Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, 2010
OK Go, "A Million Ways," Oh No, 2005
OK Go, "Here It Goes Again," Oh No, 2005
Wendy Carlos, “Sinfonia to Cantata No. 29.” Switched-On-Bach, 1968
MGMT, “Kids,” Oracular Spectacular, 2008
Brian Eno, “Over Fire Island,” Another Green World, 1975
Emerson, Lake & Palmer, “Lucky Man,” Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1970
The Normal, “Warm Leatherette,” T.V.O.D./Warm Leatherette, 1978
Ultravox, "Hiroshima Mon Amour," Ha!-Ha!-Ha!, 1977
Duran Duran, "Rio," Rio, 1982
Gary Numan, “Cars," The Pleasure Principle, 1979
Tubeway Army, “Are Friends Electric," Replicas, 1979
Yazoo, “Nobodys Diary," You and Me Both, 1983
Human League, "Don't You Want Me," Dare!, 1981
Human League, "Seconds," Dare!, 1981
Passion Pit, "Sleepyhead," Manners, 2009
Broken Bells, “The High Road,” Broken Bells, 2010
Broken Bells, “The Ghost Inside,” Broken Bells, 2010
Depeche Mode, “Everything Counts,” Construction Time Again, 1983
New Edition, “Mr. Telephone Man,” New Edition, 1984
Lil Wayne, “Over Here Hustlin’ (Instrumental),” Like Father, Like Son, 2006
Dark Night of the Soul, “Just War" (featuring Gruff Rhys),” Dark Night of the Soul, 2010