Archives for posts with tag: 80s

Album Review: Arias & Symphonies, Spoons (Ready Records, 1982)

1982 was an exceptionally good year for music. Duran Duran had released Rio, Simple Minds were in their prime, and countless other eighties acts were peaking musically. It is remarkable that this little band that never got really big produced the definitive record of the 1980s. The Production, arrangements, use of drum machine and synthesizer, and compositions on this album make for an end-to-end submersion into the ethos of new wave music breaking out all over the world at that time. Combine this with the vocal chemistry of Gord Deppe’s lead and Sandy Horne’s romantically haunting backing. Finally, and most remarkably, the synthesizer performance of Rob Preuss is absolutely legendary. Listen to the layered tracks on “Blow Away” and be amazed.

It would certainly strike most readers as hyperbole to call this the best album of the 80s. Yes, there were classics like U2’s War, Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream, Prince’s Purple Rain, and even MJ’s Thriller. But the 80s weren’t about rock or R&B. They were about a completely new genre of music that employed new instrumentation, unconventional lyrics, and a commitment to style in both musical form and function. These are the measures of a great 80s album. And Arias & Symphonies wins, easily. What’s more, I’ve been listening to 80s music since, well, the 80s, and this is the only album that consistently comes back with something fresh on every listen.

Album Review: Drive – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Cliff Martinez, 2011

Some film-makers are so good at integrating their musical selections with the story that audiences flock to the soundtrack, as with this great film and score. But there’s more to this than great scoring. The first five tracks of this album are excellent selections from a range of artists. Martinez’ score forms a nice sinew around the original song selections.

Desire and College are particularly worth checking out on their own. They have renewed the 80s synth pop genre with a contemporary darkness that makes you believe this is the next big thing. This isn’t just re-hashed Human League. This is deep…like Kraftwerk-JeanLucPonty-Vangelis deep.

Album Review: Static in Transmission, Spoons (Fontana North, 2011)

The Spoons have returned with this album after a long recording silence and what a nice comeback! Static in Transmission is a smart, original album that harks back to the innovation of their masterpiece, Arias and Symphonies. The Spoons are good at pop songs, as evidenced by tracks like “Old Emotions” and “Romantic Traffic”. But they are GREAT at progressive music that blends an 80s new wave ethos with edgy rock melody and original arrangements. Deppe’s guitar and voice laid over Horne’s bass and backing vocals are the Spoons’ magic elixir. They are back to using it to its potential in this album. “Imperfekt”, “Numb”, and “End of Story” are all meaty tracks that soar above pop rock and give the listener some depth to enjoy.