Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wonderful Life

Initially emerging from the fertile Liverpool post-punk scene of the early 1980s, Colin Vearncombe, a.k.a. the plainly monikered Black, eventually established himself as a crooner of tasteful adult-contemporary pop, a bit like Bryan Ferry, but without the louche lounge-lizard associations. The most obvious characteristic of Black's low key artistry is his distinctive, smoky baritone, which is put to great effect on his patented sophisticated jazz-pop lamentations. Black songs might have their musical structures inspired by the more accessible moments of Sade and other sophisti-pop purveyors, but they are sugar-coated bullets that mask quietly desperate, unerringly anxious lyrics about wobbly relationships, chronic depression, and that old faithful, unrequited love. Check out the arty video clip for one of Black's most well-known standards, the casually cinematic, immensely stylish 'Wonderful Life' (which could soundtrack an obscure 1960s French new-wave art film).

Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Dark of the Matinee

Glasgow collective Franz Ferdinand remains one of the bona fide standard bearers of the post-punk revival of the new millennium, nearly a decade after their initial formation. Armed with angular, razor-sharp guitar riffs redolent of Wire and Magazine, a supple rhythm section worthy of the best death-disco sensibilities, and appropriately quirky vocals courtesy of the dependably yelpy Alex Kapranos, the four-man band has scored a battery of genuine hits on both the mainstream and indie charts, earning the acclaim of critics and the public alike, not to mention the unconditional admiration of the usually-tetchy NME. Check out one of Franz Ferdinand's higher-charting singles, the propulsive, skittering 'The Dark of the Matinee', ideally complemented by a madcap, herky-jerky, surreal video that brilliantly mirrors the song's lurching, jittery essence.