Downes Braide Association — Suburban Ghosts
(X2XCD-002, 2015, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2016-05-21
Everything old is new again, and this time the wayback machine is set to the early 80s sound of The Buggles, courtesy of former Buggle Geoff Downes and English musician / producer Chris Braide. This fine collection of arty synth-pop (the follow up to 2012’s Pictures of You) encompasses cosmopolitan glamour (“Suburban Ghosts,” “North Sea”), introspective piano and voice confessionals (“Vanity,” “Live Twice”), and up-tempo danceable pop (“Number One,” “Time Goes Fast”). A conceptual thread about the tensions between suburban and urban life runs through the album, with the kind of suite structures, preludes, and instrumental segments that are more often found in progressive rock – or at least in the more experimental synth pop of Downes’ fellow Buggle Trevor Horn’s work with Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Art of Noise. This is obviously well-trod ground for Downes, though by pairing with a “young Turk” (who has clearly absorbed and embraced the strengths from that era) he matches his vast knowledge of vintage synth textures and lush production values with a skilled songwriter and singer who gifts him with a huge boost of credibility after many years wandering the wastelands of Asia. Beyond his deep production and compositional skills, Braide’s vocals are a huge asset for the duo. He continually displays an uncanny knack for drawing out just the right emotional tone required by the song. Throw in a terrific guitar solo from David Gregory in closer “Dreaming of England” and you easily have one of the better albums of 2015.
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more