Various Artists United Synthpop of America Volume One (Synthphony Records SYN007)
There is a vigorous and lively sub-culture out there of bands who are exploring the sounds of the early '80s. And they don't all sound like Depech Mode. This sampler from the New Jersey based Synthphony lable highlights just how much really good stuff is out there. Out of the 15 tracks on here almost all are great songs that just happen to have an early '80s electre sheen.
Color Theory's "Just Who I Am" mixes a little of the old with the new, laying down a drum n' bass rythm line and a techno-urgency underneath a super funky bass line. The singer, filtered throught God knows what, sings a haunting melody that recalls Visage or Minor Detail without being at all derivative.
Darklight's "Look Up" is one of those pretty songs that Red Flagg used to do so well. Agnes Poetry sounds like lost KTP.
There are two stand out tracks that one can match up against anything from the '80s college rock scene. The first one is Goodbye July's "Asleep on Your Soft Word." With vocals borrowed from the PS Furs and a slow loping beat from Ultravox the band manages to use an AAAA rhyme scheme with out sounding ridiculous. This makes me want to hear the new stuff from the bands full time alter-ego Anything Box.
The second track is Secret Secret's "Nichiyobi." Oh wow set those Casio's for stun! This great track recalls Landscape or even "Punishment Park" from the Weathermen. Super-funky, super-cool and super-detached. Super good. Worth picking up, you're bound to find something you love on this set.