Rediscovering Roxy Music

Every so often I get days were I just spent the entire time exploring music I haven’t heard before. Today is definitely one of these days, and it’s paying off dividends. I decided to listen to More Than This: The Best Of Bryan Ferry + Roxy Music and I am so surprised how much I’ve enjoyed it! I had tried to get into Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry a few months ago (after  loving a few of their singles) by trying out Avalon. I found it forgettable and at that pointed decided they were not for me. I think I may have given up on them too quickly – More Than This has really impressed me. I’ll definitely be going back to listen to those Roxy Music albums now (and probably some early Ferry solo material).

It’s even made me discover a song I’ve loved for a year or so without knowing who it was. ‘Let’s Stick Together’ was featured on a TV advert here and yet even with that unmistakable voice I never realized it was by Bryan Ferry. It sounded more like a 60s song to me, so I assumed it was from that period. Well, I wasn’t too far off the mark there to be fair as it does date from 1962 in its original version. Wilbert Harrison recorded it originally, whilst Bryan Ferry recorded his version for his 1976 third solo album, also called Let’s Stick Together. Bryan Ferry’s version proved very successful, reaching #4 in the UK Chart. It’s a song that’s just impossible to dislike really, it’s just got this irresistible pound to it. A great cover version that still stands up today!

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Uturn: Charlie XCX – Take My Hand

Another album I listened to yesterday was Charlie XCX’s second album True Romance (though it’s her first to see commercial release). Last year I had mixed feelings about her. She wrote Icona Pop’s smash hit I Love It which I really dislike. I even really dislike the lyrics of tht song. It’s definitely not indicative of Charlie XCX’s talent. I was considering trying her album but I eventually decided against it. I was dubious that it would all just sound like I Love It. Yesterday I decided to put my prejudgements aside and listen to the album as its own body of work. I was so surprised. I really enjoyed it. It’s a tiny bit more commercial than say, Sky Ferreira’s Night Time My Time, but it’s definitely far from generic pop. There wasn’t any song on the album I actually disliked. One of my favourite songs from the album is the dreamy and hedonistic Take My Hand. It was never released as a single and I think it’s rather underrated. I absolutely love the little 8-bit production quirks of the song. I wish the album (and the singles) did better in the charts here as she is definitely a fresh young talent. Despite True Romance being released only last year she’s already hard at work on her third album which is slated for release this year. Given my new found love for this talented lady I’m very excited to see what she comes out with next!

Phantogram – Fall In Love

One thing I love about music is how, out of the blue, you can discover a gem. Well, in this particular case it was a friend that discovered the track and recommended I listen to it. This was only a few hours ago actually. So, intrigued by the recommendation I listened to it and absolutely loved it! It’s called Fall In Love and it’s by Phantogram, who are an electronic indie-pop duo from New York. So far, they’ve only released one album – called Eyelid Movies – in 2009. However on February 18th they are scheduled to release their second album titled Voices. Fall In Love is one of the tracks from the album. It sounds vaguely electro R & B to me with a generous amount of 80s synths. Strangely enough I listened another Phantogram song, called Black Out Days (also from Voices) and it didn’t have that slight R & B tone to it. I really liked it too though, they’re definitely a band I’m going to explore more. So far, they’re the only two Phantogram songs I know but I’ll definitely listening to Voices when it’s released!

PSB Radio Show (from 1992) Gems.

So, today I found something I’ve been eager to hear for quite some time! Way back in 1992, Pet Shop Boys stood in at the Simon Bates Show on BBC Radio 1 for a week.  It was actually the same radio show that they created Generic Jingle (found on Behaviour Further Listening) for. Anyway, during their time on the show they played nothing but dance records.  When I read about this string of radio shows I was keen to track a recording of them down. I love dance music from the late 80s-early 90s, it’s when dance music was at its peak. I was doing some random browsing on the internet today and suddenly I found them! There’s two separate mixes for each of the five days they hosted.  There’s one called Mix, and another called Golden Hour for each of the five days. All in all, there’s ten mixes that run for an hour each. I obviously haven’t been able to listen to all of the mixes yet. I did flick through the two Mix hours for Monday and Tuesday though.  Two of the songs really caught my attention:

The first really took me by surpise. It’s a very relaxed electronic song. Melancholic even. Stylistically it reminded me of some of Electronic’s songs, which sometimes have a similar, slightly ambient sound.  It even put me in mind of the Brothers In The Rhythm mixes of We All Feel Better In The Dark by Pet Shop Boys too for the same reasons. It’s called Espania and it’s by The Good 2 Bad & The Hugly. It was obviously popular with listeners because it featured in both the mixes I was listening to. Pet Shop Boys even said that themselves before playing it on the second show, The Good 2 Bad & The Hugly made hardcore records normally, so Espania is a definite departure for them. Hardcore is practically the other end of the dance music spectrum compared to Espania.  After I heard the song I went and listened to more of The Good 2 Bad and The Hugly’s songs on Youtube. I have to say they weren’t my thing really. That’s not so surprising though because hardcore isn’t a sub-genre of dance music I particularly like. I only like a handful of early songs from the genre actually.  I’m more house oriented. Anyway, none of that detracts from Espania though, which I do feel is quite a hidden gem!

The second was High, by Hyper Go Go. This instantly hooked me in right from the opening piano riff. Piano house is my favourite style of dance music so it’s definitely apparent why this is up my street. The contrast between these two songs is terrific. Espania is a lovely relaxed song, but High is just relentlessly danceable. It’s euphoric and just makes you feel so alive. It’s also incredibly catchy. I’ve listened to it twice and already the main melody is stuck in my head. I can’t stop singing the few lyrics  that there are either.  I can’t believe I had never discovered this song before now actually. I heard another Hyper Go Go song called Never Let Go afterwards too. I did like it a lot, but I definitely do prefer High. The main piano line in High reminds me just a little bit of  the classic Strings Of Life by Rhythim is Rhythim.

I’m definitely looking forward to working my way through the rest of these mixes. I can’t get enough of the two tracks I’ve shared here with you. If I find more gems like these (which is very likely), I’ll be sure to post them here at some point!