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Pet Shop Boys – Axis

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Not many industry watchdogs in 1984 would have predicted that Pet Shop Boys would still be releasing albums selling out tours in 2014. And yet, 12 albums in, the alternative dance music pioneers are still going strong. Their most recent release, 2013’s “Electric” scored 84/100 on leading ratings site Metacritic, a score that represents “universal acclaim.”

Many American EMPT readers may be scratching their heads. Pet Shop who? Maybe it’s because the band’s biggest hit, “West End Girls,” came out in the mid-80s, or that the duo has purposefully eschewed the spotlight (or at least attempted to…they remain a major commercial force worldwide), but they’ve been largely overlooked by a new generation of stateside dance music fans.

This isn’t your brother’s dance music. It’s your crazy uncle’s. You know, the guy your mom tells you to steer clear of because he still raves it up, and who your grandmother shuns because he’s gay.  But you know he isn’t crazy. He’s the one with the right idea. He gave you your first Suicidal Tendencies record and condoms for your 16th birthday.

Just ask the brits, who are apparently always ahead of the game when it comes to music. Pet Shop Boys are a major force across the pond, with over 20 top 10 singles during the span of their career. The guys started out producing Hi-NRG (a subgenre of disco quickly succeeded by house and new wave) tracks, before shifting into a recognizable tech-ed out new-wave sound. First known for their stoic stage demeanor and legendary status in the LGBT community, the band has continued developing into new sounds and styles, and are now a true standard bearer of their era.

“Axis” is the lead single off “Electric.” It is a perfect summation of Pet Shop Boys in 2014. You can still hear the new wave bass line and synth stabs, but now the soft crooning is replaced a Kraftwerkian bark. This is new wave for the festival era

Pet Shop Boys – Axis

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Music

Grand National – Peanut Dreams

I just love the simplicity of certain tracks and its ability to get you going in a totally unpretentious effort.

When I first heard this song it hooked me. There was something quite familiar about it that I loved. Upon multiple careful plays I figured out it was the bassline – which is a sample of New York Rock & Roll Ensemble’s Gravedigger. This piece is fueled by a psychedelic soul that’s embodied by just a handful of instruments and its bassline plays a central role in guiding us on this enjoyable ride. It’s interesting how the vynil crackle sound permeates the song’s layers from the beginning to the end except for those brief seconds of the musical bridge – where the song just breathes. The repeating guitar riffs accompany the bassline and drumwork as the bed for Ruppert Lyddon and Lawrence Rudd‘s vocals to just glide as they yearn for the simple things in life.

“Give me something,
Give me silence,
Give me jokes, live it out with my peanut dreams. 

Give me daylight,
Give me sundays,
Give me strokes with the folks and their peanut dreams“

Because sometimes, just sometimes, satisfaction is not tied to larger than life dreams but rather small ones.

Grand National – Peanut Dreams

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Music

The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry

One of my favorite songs growing up. It’s about a dude who loses his girl and is sad but can’t show his emotions because well, Boys Don’t Cry.

Misjudged your limits, Pushed you too far.
Took you for granted, Thought you needed me more.
 
Now I would do most anything, to get you back by my side
But I just keep on laughing, hiding the tears in my eyes.
Cause boys don’t cry.”

Get a grip girly man! Big fan of The Cure, post-punk/new wave was my bloodline during the skateboarding/bmx days. Great song.

The Cure - The Cure: Greatest Hits - Boys Don't Cry

The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry