American Culture

TunesDay: Ooh la la

One of my favorite musical sub-genres is sort of an off-shoot of trip-hop, a sultry urban electropop district where the downbeat influence of Portishead meets up with all kinds of interesting characters dressed like David Bowie in the ’70s. California pure pop a la Burt Bacharach, for instance, which we find in the likes of Saint Etienne (and the solo work of singer Sarah Cracknell), Mono and Hooverphonic.

These groups are almost always fronted by female vocalists, and every year or two I trip across another one that just blows me away. In 2002 it was Frou Frou, and in 2005 the duo’s singer, Imogen Heap, knocked us out with the brilliant Speak for Yourself. Black Box Recorder did two or three must-have CDs and singer Sarah Nixey’s solo debut last year was one of my Gold LP winners. Hooverphonic has a great new release out this year that will likely be in the Gold LP category, as well.

Then there’s our band of the week, Goldfrapp, a British outfit fronted by singer/keyboardist Alison Goldfrapp. 2003’s Black Cherry was a tour de force of slinky, hooky technofascism and last year’s Supernature showed us what happens when post-Portishead trip meets … T. Rex? Gods, Marc Bolan must be dry-humping in his grave.

If you don’t know Goldfrapp, you’re either wondering about them or you’re worried about me, so let’s dispense with the tell part of the proceedings and get on with the show. Let’s kick this week’s TunesDay off with the most Bolanesque of videos, the lead track from Supernature, “Ohh La La.” Damn, do these guys get glam or what?

Cyborgs in love, anyone?

I’m not even going to pretend that I know what the hell is happening here. All I know is that they don’t sell that pepperoni and butts pizza at my local piehouse, and I’m damned happy about that.

In this live vid, Allison takes us to “Utopia.”

I’m wired to the world
That’s how I know everything
I’m superbrain
That’s how they made me

Fascist baby
Utopia, utopia

In “Lovely Head” we explore Alison’s ambivalent relationship with nature. I think.

Finally, we conclude the show with a live performance of “Yes Sir.” At about the 3:30 mark we get to meet Deep Theremin, the luckiest electronic device in all of popular music.

If you like what you’ve seen so far, you can find a lot more Goldfrappery on YouTube. Enjoy.

6 replies »

  1. Hahahaha! The first video was a dead link for me, but Deep Theremin made up for it. Hahaha. And I’m pretty sure both the white horse and the lovely head vids had just a little to do with heroine. 🙂

  2. That worked. And if Freddie Mercury were still alive, he’d definitely find a way to work with these guys. Hahaha.

  3. Holy crap – finally, a band I know on TunesDay. And you mentioned Portishead! I’m gettin’ all nostalgic…

  4. Hey Dr 🙂

    Alison has been a fave darling for the last three years on my part, with Black Cherry (And Strict Machine) as my big favourite. I love how she changes concept from album to album, to embrace a whole new style. She was quite brave to go from Supernature to the current album, Seventh Tree, but it worked brilliantly. Seventh Tree is something completely separated from her previous work, and many old fans were sceptic (I never was), but all have agreed on one thing: Once you start listening to Seventh Tree, regardless of what you initially think of it, the album never stops growing on you. It’s a sunny, summery glimpse back on the early 70s, and I love it…

    Oh, and talking about Portishead – New album, “Third”, out! 🙂 Eleven years in the waiting… Came out yesterday!… Machine Gun, sublime!…