Thursday, January 27, 2011
Slavagoh on Needless Records
Needless Records sent me a nice note and package with their latest single from Slavagoh who like yesterdays project, Luftwaffe are also out of Philly, but TODD is going after a super slick, produced sound. It's unapologetic dance-pop, a sort of Neon Indian unburdened by over-nostalgia...the sounds here are so almost generic, not tied to a specific era keeping this out of the holed-up-with-obsolete-equip gimmick genre. Clearly it's an indie pop mix of mechanical sounds, weirdo guitar effects, heavy dance beats, and high translucent shimmery melodies.
The A-Side, Rollerskate Shake, is definitely going for romantic synth sound, from an era when Europe was putting the synth front and center in what I thought was a metal band. That was confusing.
I can't help but think of Prince, at least that Smog song where he's singing about Prince in the studio. The respect that comes from across the musical landscape, the art and commercial combined. It's not that Slavagoh is pretentious in any way, there's no attitude, just the opposite, it's an optimistic combination like early New Order; they took the foundation of classic rock instrumentation and added new technologies always in benefit of the melody. That's why they continued doing something successful, long after Joy Division, the foundation was always there. Were they a 'dance' band? Not exactly.
And why does this sound so cinematic? It's part of that left of center pop sound that would show up as 'alternative' touchstone's; a psychedelic furs track in the Hughes teen noir films, the moments when you just for a second you weren't so marginalized. So what does that mean for a track sounding like that in 2011? It's got the classic signs of being both underground, and completely appealing. Not something you'd attempt these days, not with this level of sincerity and craft.
The B-Side, "Alms", has a massive tom beat with hints of electronics and minor guitar melodies. A heavily effected acoustic strums in just like those Replacements songs, the vocals come in understated, almost spoken with warbly phaser effects working off this heavy underbeat driving the whole thing away from ever getting melancholy.
I like that Slavagoh is going after this sound, with all the sequencing and tech of what could have been a dance sound, and then really going after the melody. Both of these tracks are so repeatable, and This Heart Electric would get their references and relate to this impulse...or Coyote Slingshot,...music video?. It sounds optimistic, which I think is the hardest thing for something that's riding the line between heavy electronics and serving the melody. It's too easy to layer the unlimited tracks, and muddle the overall view.
Somehow there's plenty of variety to latch onto, the experimentation has all happened behind the scenes for months in demos and finely honed into the individual tracks on this single.
I even think about the language we use for the lo-fi rock 45's, fuzzy or underwater, and how much hype is about nuying into that mythology...a band starts with inferior equip, playing those tiny crappy underground venues where that scuzzy pop, garage, whatever-fi makes sense....but Slavagoh doesn't fit into that easy stereotype, he's already playing for that massive club with lasers and fog machines. There's no gradual climb out of somewhere an audience can relate to, instantly this is a shining, untouchable electro-pop single with hard to pin down references.
Adam from Needless is half the reason for it's existence and is exactly the sort of label I'm taking notes from. A clear idiosyncratic view...endorsed by the Jacuzzi Boys.
Get this Ghostbusters villan, or English town titled band single from Needless Records.
Needless?....how dare you sir.