Strange Waves

Strange Waves

New sounds from across the pond

By Benjamin Smith

I’m no Nostradamus. Yet I do predict that one night, while sipping absinthe on the Trolley Stop patio, a local musician will question me about this column’s value (or lack thereof). The inquisitor appears hazy in my vision, but I see…yes…I see that he can pass for a Welcome Back, Kotter cast member.
“Your stupid column doesn’t belong in the Dayton City Paper,” he’ll finally proclaim, “because your stupid column doesn’t feature Dayton bands and music.” 
Sacrebleu! Perhaps this Sweathog has a point, I reflect when the vision subsides. However, I quickly remember that almost every newspaper—from New York’s Village Voice to the News-Tribune in Hicksville, Ohio—offers at least some national and foreign coverage. Dayton’s arts and entertainment are notable and need to be featured here, for sure: but shouldn’t we also highlight arts and entertainment from beyond our city’s limits, for the possible benefit of people within our city’s limits? Isn’t this exposure part of the Dayton City Paper’s greater purpose? Put that in your pipe and smoke it, kids. And as you do, soak in a couple of the following albums; close your eyes; concentrate; transcend. Listen globally, dance locally. Amen.

 

Artist: Elitechnique

Album: Intrusion

Label: Clone Records

Release Date: July 2012

Country: The Netherlands

Website: www.myspace.com/elitechnique

Possible Soundtrack To: Blade Runner 2: Electric Boogaloo

A lighthearted spirit is a rare and noble thing these days. Elitechnique—the Dutch duo of Remco De Jong and Florentijn Boddendijk—showcases brave silliness in spades on Intrusion, which plays like an instrumental score composed by Ladytron and Vangelis for softcore sci-fi porn. Behold the song titles: “Rooftop,” “Hotel Cosmos,” “Private Beach,” “Girls Girls Girls.” Add synthesizers and bass lines from the Reagan era, and voilà! A singular summer classic. The cheesiness can be as vividly yellow as the record’s cover, though let’s be honest—we expect this from European disco by now. All part of the continental charm. At its best, Intrusion represents intelligent, ironic escapism: a chance to fantasize about futuristic foreign bikinis rather than focus on looming American political debates. Doom and gloom ain’t got nothing on repurposed Duran Duran, son. A postmodern passport.

 

Artist: The Crookes

Album: Hold Fast

Label: Fierce Panda

Release Date: July 2012

Country: United Kingdom

Website: www.thecrookes.co.uk

Lyric That Sums It Up: “Faded memories, they’re all we’ll have, they’re all we’ll need/ I’ll remember you just as you always want me to.”

I’ll be the first to admit that, on paper, The Crookes seem less than novel: an indie-pop four-piece fond of guitars and the 1980s. But by Jove, their stuff has a certain je ne sais quoi. Perchance this appeal stems from geography, for The Crookes hail from Sheffield, home of Pulp; like the latter, the former bring a subtly urbane touch to tunes of love and lust, plus a flair for melody and melancholy. The best of these 10 tracks — the bittersweet “Stars,” the yearning “American Girls”— should inspire dances in the dark and dreams in black-and-white. Hold Fast may also provide solace to worshippers of Morrissey and Johnny Marr, those delicate souls waiting ­– in vain ­– for illusions of a Smiths reunion. Too lean and derivative to be a masterpiece, The Crookes’s second album nevertheless remains a rarity: an instantly catchy and romantic collection of songs from a modern British band. Spin and swoon.

 

Artist: Drvg Cvltvre

Album: Everything Oblivion

Label: Snug Life Records

Release Date: July 2012

Country: The Netherlands

Website: snugliferecords.bandcamp.com

Best Enjoyed While Reading: The Lair of the White Worm

Everything Oblivion has been dubbed “Zombie Disco Music,” and I can’t argue with this. If you have ever owned a Marilyn Manson album (for shame!), consider your mojo resurrected. Before the rest of you rush to judgment or run away screaming like children, understand that within this monotonous throbbing hell of keyboards and percussion blooms beauty . . . beauty that smells of, um, Thom Yorke. They’ll have to dig through mud and murk, yet fans of Yorke’s solo work and The King Of Limbs may actually appreciate random bits of “Babycakes” or “I Am The Lion, Hear Me Roar.” Furthermore, Drvg Cvltvre—a.k.a. DJ and Snug Life founder Vincent Koreman—strikes the occasional semi-human dance groove (“The Party’s Over”). Still, any record featuring a track entitled “Hold My Sweaty Hairy Hands” is aiming for limited, creepy appeal. Insert haunted “house” joke here.

 

Artist: Micachu and the Shapes

Album: Never

Label: Rough Trade

Release Date: July 2012

Country: United Kingdom

Website: http://micachu.biz

Perfect Gift For: Enfants Terribles

Mica Levi, otherwise known as Micachu, is British pop’s newest mad scientist. Backed by keyboardist Raisa Khan and drummer Marc Pell, she has now unveiled a second puzzle of contrasting rhythms and sounds that somehow gel. The result is near genius. One constant holding the chaos together is Micachu’s vocal approach: detached and obviously suggestive of Siouxsie Sioux, but also, more bizarrely, Syd Barrett. Indeed, the spirit of Pink Floyd’s deceased madcap lives on in the carnival craziness of “Holiday” and the Nintendo bursts of “You Know,” while “Fall” could have been the soundtrack to Barrett’s own fall from grace and sanity. Crazy shit to many, though the status quo for a classically trained renegade who “plays” a vacuum cleaner and builds her own instruments, Never will never be embraced by the present music-buying public; regardless, it stands a flickering sign pointing towards the future.

Reach DCP freelance writer Benjamin Smith at BenjaminSmith@DaytonCityPaper.com

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