Posts Tagged ‘New Wave’

In an alternate synthpop universe, the 1984 song “Away, Away” by UK band The Promise would have been a hit. It had all the makings of a classic – ear-grabbing intro, emotional vocals, and a soaring chorus. There’s not much information available on the band, but I believe this is their first release. A bit of research turned up a couple more singles, but nothing that quite reaches the heights of this track.

 

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New Zealand electronic '80s band Car Crash SetNew Zealand wasn’t known for producing many electronic acts in the eighties, and perhaps that’s why Car Crash Set slipped under the radar. It’s unfortunate, because during their short existence, from ’83 to ’86, the Auckland act turned out some pretty great music. Their sound has been described as experimental Human League with an occasional venture into “New Order-esque amalgamations of guitar and synths.” The song “Toys” is off the 1983 LP We’ll Do Our Best, a compilation of bands from New Zealand. It’s also included on the compilation LP Join The Car Crash Set, released in 2008.

80's postpunk synthpop band Venus in FursEngland’s Venus in Furs began life in the early ‘80s with four band members. By the mid ‘80s, Venus in Furs was comprised only of the solo artist Times. The music isn’t easy to define, moving from experimental, guitar-based post-punk to melodic synthpop. From the 1986 LP Real Moral Fibre, the song “Love Lies” sits on the synthpop side of the spectrum, and falls in line with the melancholy synth/guitar sound of New Order. If that’s your kind of thing, you should definitely give it a listen.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Ice the Falling Rain were a short-lived English band that played synth-driven new wave. The group was founded by former members of the aggro punk band Violators. Taking a sharp turn from their punk roots, the 1983 single “Lifes Illusion” is pure, infectious synthpop. This was the only output by the band, as they disbanded soon after its release.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Besides having an unusual name, Italy’s Gay Cat Park also have an unusual story. Known for the Italo-disco, synthpop classic, 1982’s “I’m A Vocoder,” Gay Cat Park were actually two 14-year-olds obsessed with electronic music. Heavily influenced by Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk, the duo made several home-recorded tracks between the years of 1982-84, but “I’m A Vocoder” would be their only official release. Fortunately, the Medical Records label rescued these tracks and released them in a limited 8-track compilation LP, 2012’s Synthetic Woman.

 

1980 Daniel Miller electronic project - Silicon TeensThe Silicon Teens were a guise for a solo project of Mute Records founder Daniel Miller. After recording as The Normal (“Warm Leatherette”), Miller launched the electronic, synthpop project in 1980. The fictional group was comprised of four actors who gave interviews under the names Darryl, Jacki, Paul, and Diane. The lead singer, Darryl, was played by Frank Tovey, who some of you may know better as Fad Gadget. The song “Sun Flight” is off the only LP from the project, 1980’s Music For Parties. It’s one of the few original songs on the LP. The rest of the album is made up of synthpop remakes of rock & roll classics from the ‘50s and ‘60s, including a somewhat campy version of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis, Tennessee.”                                                                                                                                                                                                              

For the second in the series of podcasts on favorite ’80s finds, I decided to focus on overlooked ’80s UK synthpop. Synthpop is one of my favorite genres of music and, needless to say, there was an abundance of great music from this region. I narrowed the playlist down to 13 songs, which was no easy task, so may just have to do a part 2 on this category. As always, I provide a bit of information on the bands/artists, when available. Below is the track list and you can listen to the podcast here. Hope you enjoy!

  • I Start Counting “Letters to a Friend” (1984)
  • Illustration “Danceable” (1980)
  • Henry Badowski “My Face” (1980)
  • Eternal Triangle “Nothing But a Friend” (1984)
  • Pictures Like This “A Night’s Vendetta” (1983)
  • VHF “No Surprise” (1982)
  • Disciples of Spess “Another New Iceland” (1987)
  • Ice The Falling Rain “Lifes Illusion” (1983)
  • White Door “Windows” (1983)
  • Almost Alone “Blue City” (1983)
  • Secession “Touch Part 1” (1984
  • Leisure Process “Love Cascade” (1982)
  • Vision “Lucifer’s Friend” (1982)

1980s band The PassionsBritish post-punk/new wave band The Passions are probably most well-known for the 1981 single “I’m In Love With A German Film Star.” This is the song that piqued my interest in the band and prompted me to seek out more from the group. I’m glad I did, since it led to the discovery of the single “The Swimmer.” Released as a single in 1980, it’s a great mix of post-punk and new wave, with a bit of jangly guitar thrown in. The band went on to release a couple more albums and several singles before calling it a day in 1983.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

 

Fiat Lux were an English synthpop trio that had a bit of chart success in the UK. At their height, the group was touring with such bands/artists as Blancmange, Level 42, and Howard Jones but couldn’t seem to break through. Forming in 1982, they released a handful of singles and one mini LP before disbanding in 1985. My favorite song from the group is 1982’s “Feels Like Winter Again,” which was also their first release.

 

If you had the opportunity to play DJ for a night, wouldn’t you take it? That’s exactly what I did for my birthday this weekend. Decided to rent out a local club for a couple of hours and invited friends to dance the night away before opening to the public. The challenge? The playlist had to be limited to two hours. Fortunately, the DJ gave me a bonus hour, as long as I didn’t play any later-in-the-night favorites. So, for hour three, I had to reel it in a bit but still managed to throw in some favorites while trying to appeal to the masses. The music covered many genres and spanned a few decades but, of course, the bulk of the songs were from the ‘80s.

I started off the night with something relaxing and danceable and then moved into some minimal wave favorites. This was followed by some early ‘80s post-punk, gothy material that flowed into new wave and synthpop. Even managed to slip in some LCD Soundsystem without a hitch. The last part of hour two was a mixed bag of glam rock, indie, and punk. Hour three was filled with ‘80s new wave staples, jangle pop, and some indie classics. All in all, tried to get in a little something for everyone. The dance floor moved all night and there is nothing like hearing your favorite songs on the big speakers. Might have to make this an annual event.

Pretending to work the decks.

Playing DJ v2

Here’s the complete playlist:

Torch – Soft Cell (1982)
The Last Song – Trisomie 21 (1986)
Watching Trees  – Eleven Pond (1986)
Romantic Me – Polyrock (1980)
Disorder – Joy Division (1979)
Primary – The Cure (1981)
Last Year’s Wife – Zero Le Creche (1984)
A Day Without Me – U2 (1980)
Everywhere I Go – The Call (1986)
Ahead – Wire (1987)
Nowhere Girl – B-Movie (1982)
The Damned Don’t Cry – Visage (1982)
I Die: You Die – Gary Numan (1980)
Messages – OMD (1980)
Up All Night – Boomtown Rats (1981)
Lawnchairs – Our Daughter’s Wedding (1980)
I Can Change – LCD Soundsystem (2010)
Dreaming of Me – Depeche Mode (1981)
Angst In My Pants – Sparks (1982)
Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four) – Eurythmics (1984)
Why? – Bronski Beat (1984)
The Cutter – Echo & the Bunnymen (1983)
Glamorous Glue – Morrissey (1992)
The Jean Genie – David Bowie (1972)
Candy – Iggy Pop (1990)
Dreaming – Blondie (1979)
Janie Jones – The Clash (1977)
Anything Anything – Dramarama (1985)
Sheena Is a Punk Rocker – The Ramones (1977)
Last Caress – The Misfits (1978)
Eighties – Killing Joke (1984)
Mandinka – Sinead O’Connor (1987)
Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You) – Flock of Seagulls (1982)
To Look at You – INXS (1982)
The Ghost In You – Psychedelic Furs (1984)
Blue Savannah – Erasure (1989)
Rattlesnakes – Lloyd Cole & the Commotions (1984)
Love Is the Law – Suburbs (1984)
Crash – Primitives (1988)
Chamber of Hellos – Wire Train (1983)
She Bangs the Drums – Stone Roses (1989)
Ceremony – New Order (1981)
Inside Out – The Mighty Lemon Drops (1988)
A Million Miles Away – The Plimsouls (1983)
We Are Not Alone – Karla DeVito – (1985)
Masquerade – Berlin (1983)
Mad World – Tears for Fears (1983)