Jul 152008

Tuesday Playlist for 2008.7.15

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Intro: Holy Strings of Hendrix! Three on-time columns in a row? That’s unpossible! Ah, dear readers, but it is happening. In today’s Playlist, why Sigue Sigue Sputnik are more awesome than most people give them credit for, thoughts on the newly-announced Bumbershoot lineup, and the best song ever to use the word “flaaahaa”.

Listening: So occasionally I just need synth pop.  In the same way that I drink an occasional glass of scotch or smoke an occasional cigarette, (usually together) I go on occasional synth pop kick.  Earlier this week when I found myself drinking a snifter of Laphroaig and smoking a Djarum, I suddenly felt an overpowering urge to put on Sigue Sigue Sputnik‘s Flaunt It.  It felt somehow fitting.  As if it somehow rounded out a triumvirate of bad vices: alcohol, tobacco, and synth pop.

But are Sigue Sigue Sputnik and the keyboard-and-sample heavy pop music that they helped pioneer really so bad?  I don’t think so.  I mean, sure, it can be a bit goofy at times (I’m looking at you, now, Freezepop), but there’s also something extremely endearing about it.  I mean, the combination of elements of obviously non-organic origins (samples, drum machines, keyboards, etc.) with human vocals and addressing human themes is, in a way, sort of sweet.  To me it’s the act of taking technology and making it our own.  Using man-made tools and applying them to deep human concerns.

…Okay, so synth pop bands do tend to spend a lot of their time singing about robots and space and other non-human things, but even songs like “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles hit at some pretty quintessentially human things.  That they do that largely with what amount recycled and/or artificially produced sounds is pretty impressive to me.

I mean, hell, even “Love Missile F1-11” is about love and care for one’s fellow human beings.  (Or about lust depending on how metaphorically one wants to take the “missile” images in the song.)  But hey: love, compassion, and lust are all extremely human things.

So can Sigue Sigue Sputnik be a little campy sometimes?  Yes.  But is indulging in their unique brand of synth pop ridiculousness going to hurt me?  Nope.  Just as long as I don’t get addicted.

And honestly, I can quit anytime.  .  .  Right after I hear “21st Century Boy” just ONE more time.

Upcoming: A new album by The Hold Steady is out today.  I’ve largely missed them, anyone in the audience a fan?  Is a new album from them something I should be excited about?

Nine Inch Nails’ newest album The Slip comes out next Tuesday on CD.  If you can’t wait that long, it’s been available for digital download for awhile now and it is WELL worth the download.  And it’s free!  Why?  Because Trent Reznor loves each and every one of us.  Or because he hates the record companies.  Or some awesome combination of the two.

Also: did you know that Alice Cooper’s still around?  And that he’s making music?  And that he’s given up drugs and alcohol and taken up religion and golf?  (No, seriously.)  Well he’s got a new album coming out (his 25th!) in a fortnight.  2000’s Brutal Planet and 2001’s Dragontown weren’t bad.  I may have to give the old man a shot.

Also that same week (if you’re not tired of giving them money, yet) the Rolling Stones have a new DVD out.  See, I often joke about rock stars saying “wait, shouldn’t they be dead now?” and such but the thing about the Rolling Stones is, they actually all ARE dead.  Those are just clever crafted androids parading around and giving shows and shooting DVDs and such.  Isn’t it amazing how far we’ve come?

News: Well, the new Bumbershoot schedule is finally out and it’s a doozy.  It’s got music, comedy, visual arts, literature, the whole 9 yards.  Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to make it this year (the next few months are going to be crazy and broke for me), but those who do go will be treated to everything from musical headlines Beck, The Stone Temple Pilots, and Death Cab for Cutie to science fiction luminary William Gibson.  If you can go, do so.  It’s August 30th through September 1st in Seattle and it’s going to be fanastic.

Thinking: Honestly, I haven’t had much time to think about anything but work lately.  And while at work I do try to listen to music.  Favorite work soundtracking by far is electronic dance stuff, mostly trance and drum-and-bass.  It also helps that I have headphones with both great sound quality and excellent noise attenuation.  This is doubly so, since I work in a small office with five other people.

Basically your thought for the week is “trance + headphones = good work music.”  I’ll have something deeper and more interesting next week, I promise.

Song of the Week: Ever since Ann reminded me that Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry did a cover of “Hey Jude” I’ve been listening to that and to Hugh Laurie’s “The Sophisticated Song” on pretty heavy repeat.  So here for the song of the week is my favorite Hugh Laurie tune and one of my favorite songs of all time:

Video: Hugh Laurie performs “The Sophisticated Song”