One of my biggest gripes with our current poptimism is the centering on the 10s hence little interest in the 2000s’ many great trends: the glitzy vibrant synths, the neon 80s meeting this decade’s warm late-night ‘coolness’, the slick sturdy grooves in a fast tempo, the punchy beats. Oh, and vocals that didn’t fall into the same 3 riffs over and over! I could go on.
From Xenomania to Richard X and funky-house to the Norwegian scene’s icy synths, this mix dives into the styles I miss the most from this decade’s dance-pop. I hope for it to bring you some good carefree fun and an escape in this fraught summer. I also hope that it can motivate poptimism’s many many 10s enthusiasts to dip a bit further into this underrated era.
This mix had many possibilities so I’m sure that I have a few goodies missing but well, look how long this got already. For more, you can check out my RYM list.
caught in the middle + ace reject – SUGABABES / get over you – SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTOR / nic o mnie nie wiecie + leniviec – RENI JUSIS / maybe – EMMA BUNTON / betcha neva – CHERIE / can’t speak french + it’s magic – GIRLS ALOUD / good boys – BLONDIE / wild – NAMIE AMURO / ride a white horse – GOLDFRAPP / look on the floor (hypnotic tango) – BANANARAMA / heart beat rock – KYLIE / romeo – BASEMENT JAXX / cry for you – SEPTEMBER / experimenting with rugs + left too late – FLORRIE / off and on + let me know – ROISIN MURPHY / funny how – RACHEL STEVENS / do you believe me now? + come and get it – DANNII MINOGUE / will you remember me tomorrow? – MARGARET BERGER / serious – GWEN STEFANI / girl like you – BERTINE ZETLITZ / say it right – NELLY FURTADO / love don’t live here – LADYHAWKE
Basically an update/expansion on the Siouxsie ‘intro playlist’ I kept reposting here.
So maybe you know ‘Happy House’ or ‘Spellbound’ or another early Banshees hit? That’s great but on ‘Siouxsie Day’, I feel the push to promote a deeper look. Iconic as the big singles were, I feel that this is the tip of the iceberg.
This is a collection for the curious listener who wants to know more about Siouxsie’s more adventurous tastes and gradual evolution throughout her many many projects. After all, we’re talking about 16 albums in all. Sticking to only two or three ‘sides’ of such a prolific figure doesn’t do her justice. As powerful and crucial as the Juju era was, think of the constant misconceptions it inspired. Even Siouxsie would reiterate in interviews; not only was attaining a hit single not a priority, but that b-sides contained the Banshees’ most creative work. (For instance, the proto-trip hop ’Tattoo’.)
From the jazzy mallets of ‘Weathercade’ to Hyaena’s elegant flourishes, to the spacey trip-hop of Anima Animus and her haunting Hannibal finale theme, I hope for this to show new facets to Siouxsie’s music that you might have missed. Title comes from John McGeoch’s summary for the specific musical tension that SATB aimed to create.
(Combining the Once and Twice Upon A Time single collections does make a good intro if you want something more immediate, but note that Twice includes neither single from The Rapture. I do throw in some fantastic non-album singles since they didn’t get the same attention.)
Part 1: The first eight years Staircase Mystery (Stand-alone single) Mirage (The Scream) Placebo Effect (Join Hands) Desert Kisses (Kaleidoscope) Into The Light (Juju) Mad Eyed Screamer (The Creatures – Wild Things EP) Fireworks (Stand-alone single) Obsession (A Kiss In The Dreamhouse) Morning Dawning (The Creatures – Feast) Weathercade (The Creatures – ‘Right Now’ b-side) Pulled To Bits (Nocturne live version) Tattoo (‘Dear Prudence’ B-side) Overground (The Thorn orchestral version) Belladonna (Hyaena) The Sweetest Chill (Tinderbox)
Part 2: Late 80’s to 2015 Song From The Edge Of The World (Stand-alone single) Hall Of Mirrors (Through The Looking Glass) Sleepwalking (‘This Wheel’s On Fire’ B-side) Scarecrow (Peepshow) Manchild (The Creatures – Boomerang) Little Sister (Superstition) Face To Face (Batman Returns soundtrack) Sick Child (The Rapture) Pinned Down (The Creatures – Eraser Cut EP) Another Planet (The Creatures – Anima Animus) All She Could Ask For (The Creatures – U.S. Retrace EP) Further Nearer (The Creatures – HAI!) Cish Cash w/ Basement Jaxx Sea Of Tranquility (Mantaray solo debut) Love Crime (Hannibal soundtrack)
While this ‘archive album’ is suffering the worst case of delay since my 8-bit album last year, I’m still set on getting it out there this month, hopefully before it enters the ‘late’ period. To coincide, I decided to guest on Vulpiano’s monthly mix series for the listen.camp online radio station with a dip into the sounds and styles that inspired the album. I always felt that electronic music and easy listening shared this understated knack for aquatic or underwater themes, so this was a novel concept to revisit.
That means lots of ‘underwater’/surreal production effects, synths that go drip-drop, library obscurities themed around marine life, steel drums and a handful of surprises. For instance: the latest Bebel Gilberto album, which sounds eerily close to mall-themed vaporwave, and one of the most underrated Siouxsie singles in “Swimming Horses” (just because). Plus, of course, two tracks from Seahorses itself. Those are latest single “Fish In Oceania” and “Blue Whale” (which I lift from the download-only version of Ocean Flower; it actually originates from the Seahorses project).
Deep Trenches demo (0:45), Seahorses (2:15), Lullaby For Sad Porpoise (2:26)
As for the ‘piece’ I mentioned working on with the Mouthbrooder post, that found it’s way to a rough and complex state. I’m not so sure what to do with it right now and sadly, posting it in some form here feels more doubtful than before.
In this next month or so, I’d love to get back to more regular posts, since my extreme focus on That Piece led to delay for many ideas. Still, I think I have enough to juggle for May considering my plans for a special occasion in it’s last week. It’s nothing too big or fancy, but it’s a day I posted about on most previous years here!
I’m in plans of the next ‘traditional MAM mix’, but it’s not happening until sometime in summer. It can say it has some things in common with the previous one..
No plans for front page reviews at RYM right now. I have more important stuff on my plate; I did a lot already and the Dax Pierson review got a frustrating enough response to remind me why I ‘retired’ from it.
The new album from the very 80s, very YMO-ish J-pop group Crystal is ridiculously fun and also beautiful, please listen to it.
Warm up from your self-isolation and winter cold with a flashback to one of the most evocative sounds in pop and electronic music; from the haunting, therapeutic classic ‘Breathe’ to mesmerizing lost gems like Gaelle’s ‘Rain’. The sound of skyscrapers blurring together into endless bokeh lights; all the wooshing synths, e-pianos and warm basslines you could want. Originally a list on RYM.
white flag – dido / halo – kate havnevik / let go – frou frou (imogen heap w/ guy sigsworth) / o papierkach – nosowska / midnight lounge + love hangover – jody watley / loving you – lemongrass / rain – gaelle / ho humm – moloko / take control – t-love / sublime – supreme beings of leisure / everybody changes underwater – dannii minogue / juz za kilka lat – iza lach
slow down – morcheeba / you won’t forget about me (lounge mix) – dannii minogue / metro (from nancy drew: danger by design) – kevin manthei / a day in the park – ryuichi sakamoto / volunteer – grace jones / memory without consequence – takahashi & jansen / me odio cuando miento – fangoria / breathe – télépopmusik / fragile – kylie minogue / dizzy – siouxsie and the banshees / black cherry – goldfrapp / say – the creatures / goldfish – siobhan donaghy / conversation’s over – sugababes / have you never ever – margaret berger
Further Listening: – My own Curios From The Background mixes, particularly #4 and #5 – The Hedkandi Winter Chill compilations – Mono’s “Life In Mono” – Margaret Berger’s “Mind Game” and “Naive (16)” – Moloko’s “Day For Night” – Royksopp with Anneli Drecker – “Sparks” and “You Don’t Have A Clue” – Royksopp’s “Forsaken Cowboy”
Yes, this is ridiculously overdue, but thanks to the extra pressure of a new year and a long-delayed piece I haven’t found the time to put this together for real until now. Consider this an update on the previous 2020 playlist; like that one, I sequenced it to flow in a way that (mostly) makes sense. See the track listing at the link or the ‘full’ version at RYM (a few songs weren’t on YouTube). From chillwave that reaches to the sky (Brothertiger) to siren-like ambient organs (Ichiko Aoba) and metallophones from the Phillippines (Pantayo), this should have something for everyone.
Elegant ballads and slow grooves from the eighties paint a romantic, sometimes elusive picture of city nightlife. ‘Smooth’ radio shows blur together into the distant cars as hundreds of tiny lights fill the darkness.
golden war – blue camera / subterraneo amor – cecilia toussaint / lilly et bill – blues trottoir / living in confusion + living all alone – phyllis hyman / midnight mood – kashif / victor should have been a jazz musician + i’ve done it again – grace jones / make me a believer – luther vandross / esquinas – djavan / pleurer des rivieres – viktor lazlo / to tak jak gdyby ktos – ewa bem / ten minutes – isabelle antena / all the world loves lovers – prefab sprout / fantasy (pioneerball remix) – tesla boy / che vita ha fatto – lucio battisti / ocale cie – 2plus1 / cowboys and angels – george michael / the night owl – nits / slow – sunset rollercoaster / transeunte sin identidad – virus / fear – sade / from a late night train – the blue nile / when all things are well – dani lee pearce / no te cuesta nada – javiera mena / love is here where i live – everything but the girl / scarlet ribbons – roisin murphy / holding back the years – simply red / gullible fool – la roux
Isolated, often mournful voices wander through a specter-like fog of synths and reverb, suggesting ghosts and the mysterious tragedies surrounding them.
poison arrow – yeule / your favorite color – lifeformed / possession – pastel ghost / moon in aquarius – pat moon / dreams – mushy / lazy hunter – boy friend / little ghost – metal mother / ambur – demen / island of doom – agnes obel / flying dream – tamaryn w. oneohtrix point never / visiting night eyes – samantha glass / call me – gigi masin / dance ghost – helado negro / master of none (beach house cover) – toro y moi / ghost dance – be forest / annie’s box (karin dreijjer version) – the knifew. planningtorock & mt. sims / crystalfilm – little dragon / patterns – suse millemann / no matter what – ioanna gika / into the light (siouxsie and the banshees cover) – darkswoon / vernal limb – camp counselors / vulnerable now – low city rain
Sequencing this one was difficult for some reason. Here’s some songs I would include in different iterations of this idea:
Tamaryn – “You’re Adored” (2019)
Black Marble – “A Different Arrangement” (2012), “It’s Conditional” (2016)
If Sophisti-Pop Summer was the soundtrack to a voyage by cruise, this is a montage of picturesque cities, with morning walks downtown and thoughtful discussions with friends by the sea. Maybe: that bittersweet feeling of summer becoming fall.
Expect lots of gentle orchestration, wistful vocals and breezy guitar. This one’s for you if you like Prefab Sprout.
prisoner of the past – prefab sprout / copernicus – basia trzetrzelewska / summerdays – weekend / children say – level 42 / mahalia – the bible / one better day – madness / my girl and me – gangway / obi & vida real – djavan / change – lisa stansfield / wildflower – blow monkeys / lá vem você – elza soares / teletrips – ice choir / iris – tadashi shinkawa / listen – johnny hates jazz / jocelyn square – love and money / second sight – the dolphin brothers / won’t you come back – breathe / advice for the young at heart – tears for fears / tell tale signs & the soul awakening – china crisis / new brighton – it’s immaterial / desconocido – golpes bajos / everybody’s gotta learn sometime – the korgis / far too hard – dead or alive / don’t ask me why – eurythmics / no te cuesta nada – javiera mena
It was way past midnight and she still couldn’t fall asleep. This night the dream was leaving she tried so hard to keep. And with the new day’s morning she felt it drift away. Not only for a cruise, not only for a day.
– Double, “The Captain Of Her Heart”
To mark it’s year anniversary I re-upped one of my best mixes with a few new songs for Mixcloud, a much more convenient way to listen. Go here for the Youtube list if you prefer that.
A summer mix invoking the romance, mystery, scenery and varying emotions of a lavish cruise as it begins a long journey overseas. Think sipping a cocktail as you watch the sunset, a romantic embrace by the docks or a suited pianist enchanting the crowd during their buffet.
This naturally doubles as a spotlight for the sophisti-pop genre best known for Sade and Prefab Sprout. Its cross of slick production and synths with elegant piano, strings, clean guitars, sax and/or brass has close ties to this imagery.
B.Y.O.B. – sister sledge / let’s go together – change / she’s strange – cameo / driving satisfaction – grace jones / heartbreaker – evelyn champagne king / still a thrill – jody watley / oh sheila – ready for the world / back and forth – cameo / have you heard the news? – high fashion / let it whip – dazz band / party train – the gap band / didn’t mean to turn you on – cherrelle / the character – morris day / don’t disturb this groove – the system / slow dancin – – phyllis hyman / thinking about you (prod. kashif) – whitney houston / all of you – pointer sisters / i love you too much – stevie wonder / family man – kathryn white / why you treat me so bad – club nouveau / the glamorous life – sheila e. / i want my girl – jesse johnson / i betcha – klymaxx