Friday, 11 September 2009

New Divas on the Block

Once upon a time we hip young things would listen avidly to the pirate radio stations and read the subversive, inky music weeklies to find out about strange new acts and then spread them by word of mouth. This was a system that successfully bypassed the grown-up world and ensured that pop music remained on the ‘us’ side of the generation gap. However, since the pirates are now outlawed, most of the weeklies have vanished and pop has passed into the hands of the establishment, it is no surprise to learn that it has become the remit of the staid national institutions to guide us in our listening pleasures. So it is good to see that that bastion of middle class respectability and national monolith, the BBC, is kindly telling us which new acts we should be listening to whilst we drive our 4x4s on the school run.

The latest state funded bulletin tells us that there are three new females on the block that we should be aware of if we are ever to hold a sensible conversation with our children again and they are: Florence and the Machine, La Roux and Little Boots. Of course, readers of this blog will already know about Florence and her wild bohemian ways but I have not yet commented on the other two.

Little Boots, or Victoria Hesketh is Little Miss Technology. She has spent the last few years posting numerous videos on YouTube showing her at home developing songs at various keyboards with the aid of her ancient Stylophone and strange Japanese instrument, the Tenori-on. These are all very entertaining in a talented yet home-made way. Unfortunately, when her debut album, ‘Hands’ arrived earlier this year, it was mildly disappointing. I’ve explored this subject before but it seems to be a case of initial inventiveness being smoothed away by a professional production. The songs are great but they seem a bit over-produced.  Hopefully she will get a more sympathetic treatment for her second effort.

La Roux, comprising singer Elly Jackson and keyboardist Ben Langmaid, is altogether another kettle of fish and I’m beginning to wonder whether all is not as it seems. Back in the 1980s when Electro-pop emerged from the massive development in synthesiser technology, there were a number of front runners in the genre. There were bands like The Human League and Depeche Mode and any number of duos - Pet Shop Boys, Soft Cell, Eurythmics – and in particular, Yazoo. One listen to ‘Bulletproof’, purportedly by La Roux and you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were listening to Yazoo. That skipping, plinky-plonk keyboard is pure Vince Clarke and whilst Elly’s vocal hasn’t the resonance of Alison Moyet, the melody has a certain deja vu feeling. In the video, Elly even sports an early Moyet quiff. Are we sure that La Roux actually exist and that they are not Yazoo reincarnated for the noughties? Stranger things have happened.

Anyway, here's Little Boots in full 'bedroom' mode.


Jayne said...

La Roux is a funny one - I found 'In for the Kill' mildly addictive, and yet at the same time wasn't really sure if I liked it that much! It is somehow cold and humourless, as much as it is catchy. It hasn't actually made me go out and listen to the other songs. Little Boots has made no impression on me at all - I think she is in danger of being completely forgotten about in the face of other new exciting acts, such as Lady Gaga.

musicobsessive said...

Jayne - You've hit the nail on the head. La Roux is just a little too brittle and soul-less for me. I think it's just her voice at the moment. She's very young and sounds it - perhaps she will mature if she hangs around long enough.

Little Boots I have more time for as I think she is very talented but has been stuck in a mould by the music industry and it doesn't quite fit her. I love her home-made videos on YouTube as they show the real person. Someone needs to capture that essence on record.

Jayne said...

I think that shows the difference that makes a music obsessive! I wouldn't go and seek out Little Boots youtube videos (or any new music for that matter) - it has to find me first. So I discover new music usually by hearing it on the radio, as subliminal advertising used by supermarkets, or on shop speakers as I browse around the aisles. A very new development (i.e. for as long as your blog has been going!) is reading about bands here and feeling curious, but I still usually have to hear a song subsconsciously for a while before suddenly I cannot get enough of it. It takes quite a lot to hoik me out of my love for older music!

musicobsessive said...

Anybody would think I spend all day trawling through YouTube (Ahem) Actually my now well established 'music-sense' just picks up bits of information from all over the media spectrum and I use Youtube to check out what's what. Hence Little Boots. I've added a sample of her 'bedroom' work to this post as a taster. See what you think.