A shadowy figure in the New Wave/New Romantic movement of the late-70s/early-80s John Foxx produced a defining artefact of the era with Europe After the Rain. Although much of the New Romantic scene had more to do with the subversive power of cheekbones and eyeliner, it was still the last one to believe, even slightly, in the deeply unironic, undemocratic allure of Romanticism. While the kids dressed up and sold out to pop success there was a through-line from Bowie, Roxy, Eno and Kraftwerk that kept ideas alive. And so Europe After the Rain. The phrase has a post-apocalyptic tenor to it, (like Rome After the Fall). It invokes the romance of European cities, all that history and art and decadence, city squares, baroque architecture, mysterious women disappearing down shadowy side-streets. There’s a narcotic shimmer to the music, a travelling propulsion - we’re moving through this city, a cinematic tracking shot, stained glass, balconies, a doomed or reignited romance. The elegiac piano suggests ghosts haunting the fountain squares while young men brood beneath the collonades, ennobled by the seriousness of great art (there’s undoubtedly a fascism in all this longing for high art and elegance.) It comes as no surprise, then, to discover Foxx was living in Italy when he recorded it. It’s the kind of romantic yearning for European glamour that could only come from someone born in the resolutely non-glamorous surroundings of Chorley, a Lancashire mill town just a few miles from those cosmopolitan hotspots - Bolton and Wigan.
Today brings us another new Coleman Hell tune, and you know those sideways fellas always have it in spades. Take Me Up is a new taste off the Toronto musician’s debut album Srry Bout Last Night. It’s one of his less funky tracks, but it’s still endlessly driving, uptempo, and riveting. The grooving tune is snappy and swaggering good. Srry About Last Night is slated for release on April 28th.
Okay, so, back in the early 2000s, when I was but a wee music lover who was trying to branch out from my well loved Simple Plan and Sum 41 CDs, I found a blog. It was a simple blogspot site and for the life of me I can’t remember the name of it, but it literally formed the foundation for all the music I like now. It was there where I first learned about Ani DiFranco, Gillian Welch, and Saeita. It was a beautiful, bizarre, weird as hell collection of artists, and you can bet I downloaded every single mp3 they put up on my dial up modem.
It was also on that blog where I first heard of Tracy + The Plastics. The brainchild of artist Wynne Greenwood, Tracy + The Plastics was an electro pop group, where all three members were played by Greenwood. She would make videos of her portraying Nikki and Cola, The Plastics, and then project them on a wall and play Tracy, the lead singer. There were skits and banter between songs, and it was completely bizarre and hilarious.
The music itself was super simple, as the band was only a three piece to begin with, and Tracy just sang. It was all Roland drum machine beats and pretty simple synth parts, not unlike Le Tigre or Peaches at their most basic. But unlike those two acts, Tracy + The Plastics could drone and feel sludgy at times. It's great.
Guys, Tracy + The Plastics was so weird. 15 year old me was probably not mentally prepared for it, but 24 year old me is forever grateful to that strange little music blog.