Wang Chung may have been Abducted by the 80’s back in 2010, but it’s been almost 24 years since the band has put out new goods. Jack Hues and Nick Feldmen knew that digital was the way this time around to hit up the music scene with Tazer Up!, released in December.
The record opens up with the Psychemagick Remix of Wang Chung’s magnum opus “Dance Hall Days”—not much changes; the pitch is up and there’s a cool spacey element added to the song that adds a slight update to the track (no dubstep, thank god). Well worth it for the dose of nostalgia.
“City of Light” is an amped up nighttime ride on the freeway, not unlike a Lenny Kravitz style electronic rock song. “Let’s Get Along” is a 90’s style chill out summer tune, territory the band grazed with “Space Junk” back off their greatest hits collection from 1997.
So a handful of material appeared on the aforementioned Abducted by the 80’s EP—“Rent Free,” “London Orbital,” “Stargazing,” and the EP title. These songs are, as a result, the most 80’s of the album (you can vouch for “Why,” but that’s totally more disco). So if Wang Chung fans are really pining for the Mosaic or Points on the Curve days, these tracks are proper callbacks. “Abducted” is a weird Thomas Dolby kind of thing, and “Rent Free” the catchiest and most memorable of the bunch.
“Driving You” follows the new wave suite, but is a bit more new age in approach. Definitely more mellow, too. “Why” is a real joy of the album, a funky dance track that blends New York and Italo disco with electronic sounds.
Tazer Up! turns down the current on “Justify Your Tone” and “Overwhelming Feeling.” The former builds its instruments well, may be a little goofy and literal on the lyric end of things. “Overwhelming Feeling” is a pretty Beatles-esque song that has a mannered piano and rhythm.
This is part of an exciting two-tier plan for Wang Chung, a plan that includes a new full-length album in the future. Wang Chung are bold enough to give a gracious nod to their past for their fans, but are also comfortable in their pop rock skin.
Transistor-on Takes “The Way Back Down” on EP
Transistor-on calls their goods “fuzzed out reverb music,” and in the spirit of post-rock, EP The Way Back Down is full of that melodious texture and sensation. Recorded at The Cottage with Damon Moon, The Way Back Down is a mere four tracks. But those songs make a satisfying sampling of a band with a big future ahead.
Atlanta duo Joey Piersante and Chris Armistead offer up a hazy fugue state that is the blueprint for this coming summer, showing that they can run with the best of the lo-fi crowd with their unique rhythms and finger-picking. The minimalist use of instruments that whip up the dream poppy wall of sound succeeds in taking the listener in a layered, chill journey.
Tracks like “Calling Out” and “Solar Flare” are so catchy (the former with its title refrain; the latter with its main guitar melody), that they etch onto your brain and trick you into thinking these are songs that have been around for maybe 20 years or so already.
Reviewers are throwing out comparisons—and they’ll continue to—of Transistor-on to Explosions in the Sky. The similarities are there for sure; both bands share a genre, after all. But saying only “they remind me of Explosions in the Sky” overlooks the fact that Transistor-on are stepping out in earnest on this EP, sounding comfortable in their skin without being jaded. Plus, having smoky vocals on the tracks adds to the spacey miasma and mystery that serves as the overarching feel of the record. The singing on “Empty Planet,” for example, highlights the track’s slow burn into its rocking guitar-driven crescendo.
Though the last piece on The Way Back Down is called “Exit,” by no means is that a harbinger of the band’s future. Transistor-on closes with a sure-footed tapestry of distortion and crisp rhythm, wrapping up a consistent and skillful release that definitely marks their arrival.
The Way Back Down is available to stream on SoundCloud or for purchase on iTunes. The gorgeous photo cover by Richard Casteel.
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Emily Hearn Saves Time in a Bottle on “Hourglass”
Emily Hearn’s sonic journey on Hourglass shows that she is a woman coming into her own, figuring out the knots of past heartache, the bliss of newlywed life, and the passage of time.
Time acts as the overarching narrative on the record; Hourglass spans the two years following the Athens, GA native’s debut Red Balloon and 2013 EP Promises. “We fall in or out of love as time moves us,” she explains. “We learn life-changing lessons as time goes on. We figure out how to handle important relationships as time shapes us. We decide who we want to be and what we believe as time reveals our priorities. And ultimately, we grow older as time goes by.”
Hearn sings wistfully “Oh, to be young, and to have time” on the third track “Oak Tree,” longing for the naïve feeling that time would never move forward, or at least not so fast. She frets over seeing her parents age so quickly. The existential worries of a twenty-something come delivered in a package of a catchy, infectious chorus and clap-along-able melody.
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