Jennifer Connelly’s Eyebrows

I’ve had a tab open in my browser for the last 2 weeks for this song by The Midnight and every day I listen to it several times on repeat, you’ve got to check it out!

“Sunset”, the Retro Synthwave song itself is pretty good, but a fan named Kaz on YouTube took it to the next level by putting her own fan made video – and it’s actually better than anything I’ve seen in a long time!

It’s not every day that a fan made video gets over 500,000 views.

She put together scenes from Career Opportunities (By John Hughes: Breakfast Club etc) where Jennifer Connelly, who rocks her 80’s eyebrows like a babe, and some guy who clearly hates his job are stuck in a Target store after dark. Cheesy love story premise – but with the song and video put together, it somehow becomes a homerun. I’m feelin’ it.

A fan named Shotec summed it up nicely in the Youtube comments:

“In my opinion this music video in way better than the movie itself. It’s like this movie was created to be a video for this amazing song. It’s incredibly well put together. Thanks for this!”
– Shotec

You should watch it 🙂

Synth Britannia and the disconnected scene

I’ve been trying to find a music scene to stick my nose into at home in Vancouver. It seems to be that if you want anything electronic – it’s going to be dance music. If you want *songs* – well that comes along with guitars. Only.

That’s why I was excited when I came across the video from this local act called Humans. Did I just hear arpeggiated synth accents over someone singing a song? Yes I did! Drum machine? That too!

So when I saw that they had a show coming up at the Imperial to kick off their tour and brand new album I grabbed tickets.

I went to the show, made a couple of new friends, and generally had a good time. But as for the music – Humans and their 3 openers were all dance music. Beats without vocals. And the few songs that the lads from Humans did sing over didn’t make up most of the set.


Back to the drawing board in my coastal search.

A documentary called Synth Britannia gave me an unusual kind of hope. It’s a BBC thing on the explosion of synth music in the 80’s UK.

It turns out there was never any unified music scene. People were experimenting in isolated in pockets all around the country, Liverpool, Manchester, London, you name it.. but they didn’t have each other. A genre was brewing in basements, bedrooms, and garages, hundreds of miles apart.


That makes me feel a little less lonely about my lack of colleagues here on the west coast.

Martyn Ware of The Human League (“Don’t You Want Me”, “Fascination” etc.) said that they were all about punk music back then. 3 chords and the truth. They loved the songs and the attitude and the shows, but guitars and drums just felt old fashioned. They wanted to write good songs, but they also wanted to make something no one had ever heard before.

As electronic risk takers felt like they were all in their own world, a guy named Gary Numan came out of nowhere to hit number 1 on the charts. Breaking the floodgates open for everything that had been building. Uniting the network of basement synthists as a new north star to aspire to.

Numan never meant to make electronic music. He didn’t know what it was when he went into the studio to record his next punk album with songs he had written on guitar.. but fate smiled on him when he found a Moog synth keyboard sitting in the corner of the control booth from a previous session.

He had no idea what it was, but when he pressed and held one of the keys it made a swelling analogue tone that shook the building. It sounded like.. the future. His eyes went wide. Couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

Today he credits whoever left the Moog on that particular sound preset for his career, and quite possibly for the entire genre of synth pop.

Naturally, the label hated the album. They wanted loud guitars. What they got was.. strange electronic noises they wouldn’t be able to sell to the public. Through sheer determination he would finally break through with his cold and robotic future punk. In North America we probably all know him best for this one:

New Wave and Synth Pop were globally successful genres that started without a home. No scene or support system for the bands within it. Acts like Depeche Mode were laughed at by critics in the UK for not being “real music”. They would never really find an audience in England, instead they broke into the US market where fans were captivated by the “Britishness” of it all, going on to play stadiums.

What I’m saying is.. electronic music has always been a mess. Dance music has Berlin. Pop is almost exclusively electronic now, sure. But there’s a divide between that and what doesn’t want to be pop. And it can be hard to convince anyone to stand in the middle.

So when I find middle standers… I pick them up where I find them. And I may just have to accept that I’ll never find a local “scene” of people that like the same stuff I do. But I can certainly put together a show, and cram it onto bills with other bands.

Ahhh the ‘ol cram n slam. The only mullet at an afro convention. The only waffle in a pancake stack. Bring on the blueberry maple syrup.

Here are two of the artists I’ve been nerding out on lately. First would be Robert Delong, a midi device mad scientist! My hat goes off to anyone who plays an old gaming joystick like an instrument for a solo like he does in this Jam in the Van video. Plus, he’s in a van.

Second is Rachel K Collier. She’s less about bouncing around between instruments and more about triggering different sequences in Ableton and layering vocals in real time. Her earlier videos inspired me to get my own APC-40 MK II which she used to play (the light up coloured button thingy she keeps pressing, except her old version).

I loooooove me some Paper Tiger. The Mini Brute bass in the “oooooh’s” chorus gets me every time.

The illegal music scene in Kyiv

And…… I’m back. Home in Vancouver! A little jet lagged and ready for some rain in my Christmas, just like nature intended.

I’ve been listening to Super Besse on Spotify, an electronic/guitar band that I stumbled upon in Kyiv at a show.

There’s a big underground/illegal music scene there. Errrr… I think it’s more so a rave scene. Promoters won’t reveal the location until that night, and if all goes well, kids will dance the night away without police intervention.

It doesn’t always go as planned. Because what’s youth culture without a healthy gust of oppression by a corrupt government to fan the flames.

Reminiscent of when American (Chicago) Acid House dance music infiltrated England in the 80’s and hundreds of cops would beat and arrest those who *dare* participate in banned music. “Characterized by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats” (actual legal quote lol)

I went to a show, not knowing what to expect.. It was put on by a couple of record labels, one had several bands I loved the sound of. I don’t get the impression that this show was hiding anything, but you wouldn’t know it navigating the warehouse maze to get in.

Super Besse took the stage second in the lineup. They were hands down the best of the night. Hailing from Minsk, Belarus – a country north of Ukraine.

Guitar and bass with electronic Cold Wave soundscapes (New Wave.. only.. colder?).. the songs were good, but what sold me was how powerful the energy was in person.

It filled the room, (on a killer sound system) and everyone in the packed venue was on their feet dancing. Their lanky lead singer with a weird mustache and a jerky robot aesthetic somehow charmed the audience.

Dozens were even singing along with the choruses. Maybe they knew the words. Or maybe the lyrics were infectious and easy to sing.. I…….  wouldn’t know the difference, my Belarusian is a little rusty. Come to think of it, they probably sing in Russian.

The other dude’s bass guitar literally shook the building. I still can’t get over how good the sound was at this show! It was like we were all getting hit in the face with a bass cannon. Like the guy in the chair from those old Maxell ads. (Fun fact: the guy in the chair is the singer for the 80’s band Bauhaus)

Nothing I can find on YouTube conveys the energy that was in the room that night, the roof was coming off the building when these guys hit the gas.

But this is the song I remember where things started to get out of control, mainly with the chorus at the 2 minute mark. EVERYONE was singing and bouncing around like maniacs.

After the first 2 bands they had a DJ play a set.. which I thought was a nice interlude between bands. Only it wasn’t an interlude. On a dime – the night had transformed into a full on rave.

Special awards for my entertainment go to “dancing girl in trench coat and aviator sunglasses who actually dances like Columbo” and “girl who dances like she’s about to sneeze but can’t and is also on a continual search for her lost contact lens”.

I didn’t get home until 7 in the morning.

To be fair, I did take forever trying to find my way out of the warehouse maze and across the surprise train yard that Google Maps doesn’t believe exists.

i-D Did a great mini doc on Ukraine’s “underground rave revolution”.