Notes from the Keybed: This Month in Synths

We bloody love synths at TBO. Usually in conjunction with very loud, shouty metal. But if you’ve been clamouring for a handy guide to this month’s electronic action, look no further than Charlie’s new column, Notes from the Keybed.

March was dominated by the somewhat sudden appearance of Skrillex’s debut album Recess. With little warning the US brostep don followed up his four-year run of EPs with a surprisingly diverse ten-tracker, showcasing his uncompromising production style from the mosh pit starting ‘Try It Out’ and ‘Ragga Bomb’ through to the glitch hop of ‘Doompy Poomp’ and the Burial-esque closer ‘Fire Away’. Having been used to the more immediate format of EPs the album does feel a bit disjointed in places, but it will inevitably propel Sonny Moore to even greater commercial success with radio friendly EDM singalong ‘Ease My Mind’ destined to soundtrack the festival fields of Summer 2014.

Continuing the theme of ‘orrible bass noises comes a new single release from Leamington’s finest Girls That Scream, who drop their cover of Labrinth’s Earthquake’. This live favourite has been doing the rounds at their shows for over a year now and has all the bounce of the popstep original countered with the band’s trademark eight string riffery and screaming vocals. It’s available now as a free download from SoundCloud.

Over to the indie world and the fantastic Fight Like Apes released a blinder of a new single in March. ‘Crouching Bees’ advances the Irish quartet’s love of 80’s synth music with a more mainstream pop sheen, which will surely appeal to today’s post-Chrvches hipsters. Although the single hints at a new-found maturity, the video will reassure fans of their earlier more playfully offensive material, ending with what can only be described as a masturbatory paintgasm. New EP Whigfield Sextape is out in May on Alcopop! Records.

More synth-packed new releases to make sure you pick up include wistful English singer-songwriter Paul Thomas Saunders’ debut album Beautiful Desolation. The record is out now and features stunningly heartfelt songwriting combined with shimmering synth sounds. Highlights include the haunting keyboard loops of ‘Kawai Celeste’ and euphoric string sounds of lead single ‘Good Women’.

This month also saw the release of a five-LP box set commemorating much-missed rave rockers LCD Soundsystem. The Long Goodbye is a recording of the band’s four hour long live show at New York’s Madison Square Garden, mixed by founding member James Murphy and featuring hits such as ‘Losing My Edge’, ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’ and ‘Dance Yrself Clean’. It was released as part of Record Store Day on 19th April.

Synth punk fans need not despair though as taking up the mantle left by LCD are the frankly aces Heartsrevolution, who released new album Ride Or Die this month on OWSLA. The title track is a distorted riff-out for fans of Crystal Castles and Sleigh Bells. With an abundance of black and pink visuals, riot grrrl vocals and speaker smashing synths, the album is well worth your time.

Finally this month’s Keytar Hero award goes to Ben Rausch, who has been touring the UK with Johnny Foreigner, providing visuals controlled by a wireless Roland AX-7 keytar called Seafox! Tru punx.