Friday night shuffle VIII

I put the ol’ iRiver on shuffle and post the first five songs that come up: the somewhat dance/electronic special.

Assemblage 23 – You Haven’t Earned It: I’m not quite sure how to introduce Assemblage 23, except to say that they are a fairly fantastic group that produce a lot of industrial dance songs. Besides the broodingly moody “Cocoon,” this is probably my favorite of their tracks off of their latest album, 2004’s Storm.

Imperative Reaction – Giving In To The Change: While I described Assemblage 23 as industrial dance, this group probably delivers a better definition of that label. While this particular song may reflect a somewhat softer side to the band’s usual use of artificial instruments, it doesn’t detract at all from the catchy beat and somewhat pissed off attitude that sets the group aside from commercial eurodance. Love the interlude.

Pet Shop Boys – Minimal: When I bought the Pet Shop Boys’ latest album Fundamental I was more than a little disappointed. While Nightlife was a complete, though welcome, change of affect, Fundamental attempts to rehash a similar sentiment with mixed results. Gone are the days of “Domino Dancing,” come are the days of melancholy woe is me. While the album has become a rather dusty addition to my CD collection, there are still two absolutely gorgeous songs on the album which seem to imitate 1980s Pet Shop Boys better than I thought possible. “Minimal” is a surreal, synth trip through violins, catchy hooks, an impossibly good arrangement, and helpful hints for future Spelling Bees. Aside from the joy of unraveling the puzzle-box lyrics, the last section of the song provides a peek into a New Order bass section that I may possibly have listened to 5,000 times and still find as magical as the first time I heard it.

Pet Shop Boys – Integral: The last track on Fundamental and the only other brilliant song on the album. While “Minimal” took elements from the past to create a modern sound (think Madonna’s “Hung Up”), “Integral” is completely “Opportunities (Let’s make lots of money)”-influenced. The quirky lyrics remind us once again what made Pet Shop Boys so popular in the first place, except refurbished with a catchier dance break and stronger use of build-ups. There is nothing else I can say about these two absolutely great tracks that you cannot glean from listening to them with your dance pants on. Results may vary.

Cut Copy – Zap Zap: One of the greatest consternations I have about people asking me to reccommend them music is that often I am given certain parameters I am not allowed to walk outside of. The two most common (and possibly worst) barriers I have come across are a) “nothing not in English, please, I like the familiar, I don’t like to step out of my Western comfort box!” and b) “nothing instrumental, I can’t react to a song unless I know what it’s about!” Well, now that we’ve eliminated about 3/4 of the world’s music, sure, let me see what I can do. Asshole. Cut Copy, though they do contain vocals, make sure to keep it short, simple, and sparse. “Zap Zap” is one of the songs off Bright Like Neon Love, the 2004 LP that I couldn’t help falling in love with over and over again. I am even biased, yet secure, enough to say if you have good taste, you will like this song. That doesn’t mean you have bad taste if you don’t like this song. Actually, that’s exactly what it means.