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Music Under the Radar that Should Be on Your Mainstream: Electropop

Stephanie DePrez | Monday, March 29, 2010

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who’s name-dropped a band and you’ve nodded emphatically, agreeing that said band is so good/cool/innovative, only to completely forget its name the minute you walk away?

Fear no more, because here is a list of some of the most noteworthy music out there today, at least in the category of slightly-more-important. Did I unforgivably ignore your favorite? E-mail me and maybe I’ll include it in the next list.

This week we focus on electro-pop, synthpop or basically anything with serious instrumentation from the computer. Modern technology has not only allowed T-Pain to auto tune everyone with an iPhone, but it has also opened the door to a creative deluge of innovative instrumentation, often with one person composing the entire piece. These kids don’t just clean up music on the computer — they write the whole song. Instead of demeaning technology as a cheap means to make mediocre singers sound better, they have embraced it as a new form of musical expression. (“The computer IS my instrument!”)


Blue Foundation

These guys gained a fair following after “Eyes On Fire” backed Bella’s entry to high school in last year’s movie “Twilight.” They provide a nice balance between overt electronica and a cosmopolitan mystique.

Tracks to tap: “End of the Day (Silence),” “Distant Dreams (Voices)”


Fever Ray

A one-woman band from Sweden, she’s the sister in the duo that is The Knife. Her solo work is slightly ambient with an emphasis on “other-worldliness.” This tends to mean that she bounces between Native American sounding melodies and Chinese chord progressions. The music video for “When I Grow Up” is strikingly beautiful and pretty much sums her up.

Tracks to tap: “When I Grow Up,” “Triangle Walks”


Imogen Heap

The genius behind “Hide and Seek” released a sophomore album last fall, solidifying her position as Queen of the One Man Pop Band. Her most interesting tactic is that she will take a microphone around and record anything she can find and then loop it so that it sounds percussive or melodic (including things like a dripping facet or a clock ticking). She mixes all her own songs and creates unique soundscapes for each. It doesn’t hurt that she is probably the most lyrically involved artist on this list.

Tracks to tap: “Earth,” “Tidal,” “Goodnight and Go”


La Roux

This Eurhythmics incarnate synthpop group blew up in the UK last fall and have recently begun trickling into the States. Their single “Bulletproof” is overwhelmingly 80s and yet begs to be danced to about as much as the Gaga fare.

Tracks to tap: “Bulletproof,” “In For The Kill”


Owl City

Yes, yes, everyone’s heard of them, but not everyone has listened to them (or realized the omnipresent “Fireflies” is by them). Actually, the “them” is a “he,” and he’s from Minnesota. This one-man basement band is a true electronica success story. Adam Young was waxing electric while living in his parent’s house when he decided to tell the boss at his warehouse job that he was quitting to pursue a career as a pop star. And then he did.

Tracks to tap: “Fireflies,” “Vanilla Twilight,” “Meteor Shower”


Shiny Toy Guns

This is of the most novel bands out there, and not because the lead vocals consist of a male and female belting it out above a sea of emo ready pulsing guitar riffs.
They deliver everything from quasi-Goth (these guys have contributed to two Electro Goth tribute albums) to straight-up dance beats (their “Le Disko” landed on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart).

Tracks to tap: “Le Disko,” “Don’t Cry Out,” “Ghost Town”