Friday, 17 April 2009

London, emopop and 1980's britpop

I am back after a great trip to London, which consisted of 6 days of teaching chemistry and mathematics at the premises of Regent's College London (a school for the affluent, nouveau riche) which is located in the heart of Regent's Park, in Bloomsbury. I lived at accommodation of the London School of Economics, which is much better than what London is reputed to offer, and yet it does not meet the standards I find at Oxford (I get my own room at uni for the price of a shared twin room in London). I really enjoyed teaching the courses, and the atmosphere was very international, with students hailing down from all the confines of the planet. I had jet-lagged students from the US who had flown all the way to London to take my course. That was neat. 
I also had 2 days off in London and managed to squeeze in a visit to the Barbican, the British museum, a sushi restaurant and a Russian restaurant (at the company's invitation) with live Balkan music, which was pretty cool. 
I lived with two other Oxford students who happened to be very nice people (I already knew one of them so having to live together was cool). 

The first band I am exploring today is an American emopop band called Owl City, and the album is Of June released in 2009. The band consists entirely of this bloke Adam Young who is pretty talented both vocally and musically.
Highligths: The song Fuzzy Blue Lights has a nice piano background tune and good vocals. The synth solo is well located in the middle of the song. The reason why this band is emo is pretty obvious from the lyrics that are all about unattainable love and a mellow outlook on life: 

If I was walking through a sad art gallery
And you were driving through the night
I'd feel rather alone and I'll at ease
Beneath the brilliant showroom light
If I was flying on a plane above your town
And you were gazing at the sky
Somehow I'd feel intact and reassured
If you began to wave goodbye

The album is better than your mainstream pop release. There is introspection about life and the band comes across as "genuine" in my opinion. It is, however, still emopop. It doesn't go any further or pretends to be anymore than that. 

The second band I am considering is the British band Mystery Jets and their fantastic album Twenty One from 2008. Heavily influenced by 1980's Britpop (the Smiths?) it is indeed a pleasure to listen to.
Highlights: The song Two Doors Down. The song draws heavily on Morrisey's vocal style, and main vocalist Blaine Harrison looks like something out of Tim Burton's universe, or like a combination of Syd Barret and Robert Smith from the Cure. The music video is a great attempt at recreating the cliché of the 80's as the decade of oversized clothing of the wrong colours and poor video effects. This gives it a humorous air. 

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