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June 03, 2007

So So Modern – Friendly Fires EP

So So Modern

So I said I’d bring something to dance along to for the next NZ installment, and so here are So So Modern. Returning home after a brief sojourn all around the world (including recently London, you capital dwellers), they’ve also recently released a new medium length EP in Friendly Fires. I was introduced to them by the track Skeleton Dance off the recent Real Groove magazine compilation I mentioned in my original post (along with Motocade, I might add). It opened the proceedings with a relatively big, fast, and squelchy bang. Something like the Klaxons by way of One Armed Scissor and then even further back to the ZX Spectrum. But I’d hate to be described in that way, but an even worse description could be to say the vocals are ‘shouty’ (but not annoying), the synths are ‘rubbery’ (or ‘pliable’ or ‘bendy’) and the style is very ‘new rave’. So I’ll let you play the song and disagree completely.

So So Modern

I’d very much like to see them live before I leave NZ, but it might not long before they’ll be back to touring the world (or taking it over) again if their evolution from their early EP material continues any further. From the promise of just bouncing around the room like an idiot, to the colour-coded tracksuits, to the random acts (handing out pinatas, full crowd hugs and starting the gig with a band posing to be them), I’m sure it’d be a gig to be remembered when I come back home.

Coming back to the EP, it does feel very fresh, even in spite of the current contemporaries that could be pointed out. It starts out with an instrumental that doesn’t do much to build excitement (similar to that of a Spectrum loading up) but following Synthgasm the rest of the six tracks each pummel with alternately fierce rhythms, barbershop shout-singing and the rewiring of your head with electronic melody lines. It’s a blinding ride, and The Love Code is a equally blinding finish to a great CD.

From Friendly Fires EP (2007):
So So Modern – Skeleton Dance
So So Modern – The Love Code

[So So Modern Homepage] [MySpace]

November 16, 2006


One of the best things about indie is that it is ridiculously broad. Compare it, if you will, to metal where anytime a band comes along which doesn’t sound exactly like some pre-existing band they are rewarded with their own sub-genre. At the most recent metal genre census it was revealed there are more metal genres than inhabitants of Belgium. But indie is just nice and broad…

Which is why it can be intensely frustrating dealing with the music press sometimes. At the moment they (and by “they” we are largely concerned with the magazine everyone loves to hate but read – NME) are currently enthralled by their latest concoction – New Rave. New Rave is the fusion of late 1980s/early 1990s rave music with modern indie, encompassing dayglo clothing, glow sticks and whistles. It has had a lot of print space, and is seeping into the broadsheets, figureheads already appointed. There’s just one slight problem. Musically it’s the emperor’s new clothes. And the best example is the ‘genre’s’ leading lights – Klaxons.
Klaxons glo
I have long been accustomed to scepticism about NME hype bands – I maintain Pete Doherty has yet to write an entire song which is worthy of the praise he gets (although he’s managed some excellent parts to songs) – so naturally I treated all talk of Klaxons with a roll of the eyes. As a fan of indie and electronica I was wondering exactly what the hell New Rave could actually be. Apart from the non musical accessories (and to be fair if you like the Manic Street Preachers you’ve almost certainly seen gaudy clothing and glowing items at an indie concert before anyway) I couldn’t get my head around how it could all be rave. So the best solution was to go and see Klaxons live.

Conclusion: They were great! Really really good live, excellent atmosphere, great songs, good stage presence. Where they New Rave? Were they bollocks. It was indie. Fast indie, indie with a disco beat, indie with sampled sound effects occasionally, but INDIE! According to NME the fact they cover two rave songs (‘The Bouncer’ and ‘Not Over Yet’) was a sign they were true New Rave. Well the other day I heard the Magic Numbers doing a cover of Hot Chip’s ‘Over And Over’, surely this makes them New Rave too. And the Arctic Monkeys’ cover of ‘Love Machine’ makes them a girl band who formed on a TV talent show. Tell me I am not alone in seeing the stupidity of all this.

Klaxons Live

The Grace cover, ‘Not Over Yet’, was a set highlight, it was brilliant. It also sounded like an indie song. Whatever its dance origins, Klaxons’ turn it into a good quality indie stormer, musically like a souped up version of The Research, and vocally reminiscent of loads of good bands, albeit none of which are regarded as trendy by the NME.

Even their singles, like ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’, don’t sound like rave songs.

Klaxons – ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ MP3 Expired

Klaxons – ‘Not Over Yet’ MP3 Expired

So there you go, you might want to hate them for what they’ve been hyped as, but there’s no need. Klaxons are not the punchable pretentious genre-name-droppers they might appear to be, at least not when their songs are cranked up. Have a listen for yourself.

As ever, don’t believe the hype.

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