peachesifeelcreamI have nothing against Lady Gaga, but frankly, after listening to I Feel Cream, the new album from Berlin based American electroclash musician Peaches, it’s a little hard to take her seriously. Though I Feel Cream takes a while to really catch fire, despite the early appearance of the first single, “Talk To Me” (on which Peaches shows she can really sing), once the album does get started four tracks in with “More”, it makes Lady Gaga’s songs sound like the slickly made top 40 throwaways they mostly are. Peaches’s songs, by comparison, feel raw, effortlessly sexy and most of all, positively adult in their wit and sophistication. She works with a number of different collaborators this time out, primarily with Simian Mobile Disco, and the result is a bit more poppy than her past efforts, but still as entertaining and as playfully edgy as electroclash gets. I Feel Cream is by no means her masterwork, but it’s great fun to listen to for the most part. Standout cuts: “Talk To Me,” “More,” “I Feel Cream” and “Mommy Complex.”

MSTRKRFT – Fist Of God

March 18, 2009

fistofgodFist Of God, the second album of original material from Toronto based MSTRKRFT (Jesse F. Keeler and Al-P), is a real mixed bag. It kicks off strongly with “It Ain’t Love” and “1,000 Cigarettes,” the former a disco-inspired vocal track and the second a pretty groovy 70’s tinged instrumental, but dips a bit with early single “Bounce,” which starts out well enough, but is marred by an annoying chorus (“All I do is party, ha ha ha ha,” etc.). A later track, “Word Up,” falls into the same rut, despite a guest vocal from Ghostface Killah. The rest of the album has generally a more consistently fun, largely 70’s and 90’s retro electronic dance feel, with “Heartbreaker” (featuring John Legend) and “So Deep” (featuring Jahmal of The Carps) being other high points. Despite the presence of some duds, Fist Of God, if judged purely on MSTRKRFT’s own criterion for their music, which is to make their listeners dance, is mostly a win. Standout cuts: “It Ain’t Love,” “1,000 Cigarettes,” “Heartbreaker” and “So Deep.”

handsomefursfacecontrolWith their second album, Handsome Furs (husband and wife Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry), Face Control really come into their own, delivering an inspired twelve track set of music. Face Control is a frequently supercharged mixture of synthesizer driven rock, augmented by some heavy duty blues guitar playing, the result something akin to Kraftwerk deciding to do some music with the Black Keys. Boeckner’s voice is instantly recognizable from his work with Wolf Parade, and though the music of Handsome Furs is pretty far removed from the former band, the best songs on Face Control can easily stand aside the best of Wolf Parade’s catalog so far. Aside from one slightly meandering tune, “Officer Of Hearts,” Face Control speeds along from first note to the last in a most satisfying manner. It’s electronica, it’s blues rock, it’s two great tastes that taste great together and you should check it out. Standout cuts: “Legal Tender,” “Evangeline,” “Talking Hotel Arbat Blues” and “I’m Confused.”

Prototypes – Synthétique

November 5, 2008

prototypesIt’s New Wave synthpop, it’s dance music, it’s rock, it’s pop, and it’s sung in English but mostly in French! It’s Paris based Prototypes, who are back with their second US album, Synthétique, after making a splash on American shores a couple years ago with their song, “Je Ne Te Connais Pas.” It’s mostly good fun, about on par with their previous release, and self-assured enough to have a nearly eight minute techno Franco-funky techno jam called “Something.” I have to say, though, I like it best when their dynamic lead singer, Isabelle Le Doussal, sticks to singing in French, the title track wasn’t maybe the best first single, and that the album’s middle section sags a bit quality wise, containing at least one true dud, “Go To Hell Mademoiselle,” with the followup song, “Est-Ce Que Tu M’Aimes?” not being much better. All in all, however, Synthétique makes a strong case as to why Americans need to let go of whatever imagined transgressions the French have made against us and just admit that when they latch onto something cool, it’s like they invented the concept. In the meantime, you really need to check Prototypes out. Standout cuts: “Un Coup De Langue,” “Elle,” “L’amour” and “Machine Arriere.”

Velocifero, the fourth album from Liverpool based electropop band Ladytron, has a harder edged, more energized sound than previous releases. It opens with three forceful tracks in a row, beginning with “Black Cat,” one of two tracks sung by Mia Aroyo in her native Bulgarian (the other being “Kletva”), and followed by “Ghosts,” the current single, and my current favorite song on the album, next to “Versus,” the album closer. They haven’t radically changed their sound for this album, but rather diversified and expanded it, giving the individual tracks broader canvases to play out on, even adding acoustic guitars to their electronic based sound on “Versus.” Not all tracks worked for me (“Runaway” in particular, which I found repetitious), but in general, Velocifero is clearly one of Ladytron’s very best albums in their nine year history. Standout cuts: “Black Cat,” “Ghosts,” “I’m Not Scared” and “Versus.”

Often using their synthesizers like old school punk bands used their buzzsaw sounding guitars, Brooklyn punks Team Robespierre breezes through 10 songs in 18 minutes, in true punk fashion. If it’s not necessarily groundbreaking, it’s spirited fun, and with a furious pace and call and response lyrics, their music is readymade for mosh pits. Standout cuts: “Black Rainbow,” “88th Precinct,” “Ha Ha Ha” and “Solid Gold.”