Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hercules and Love Affair return from obscurity!

One of the very early entries of this blog (back in 07) was written on a then semi-popular disco-revival band called Hercules and Love Affair. Their first album, which is self-titled, is nothing short of groundbreaking. Using funky instruments like live horns, backing vocals, and clavinets the band creates attractive disco arrangements with a modern twist. I saw them play back in 08 but then they practically disappeared and haven't released any new material for the past two years.

Luckily though, they have not broken up and are actually planning on releasing a new album at the end of January. However, the real question now is how this next album will turn out without help from Antony & the Johnsons front-man: Antony Heagarty. The band's debut enlisted Heagarty and his angelic voice on five of the record's key tracks and there doesn't seem to be any rumblings that he sang on Herc's sophomore recording.

The track "
Blind" is the band's biggest hit so far and was one of the five songs Heagarty sang on. These guys seem fully capable of pulling their own weight without Heagarty but still a little part of me is praying that he will make at least a short cameo. On the first record, apart from Heagarty, lead vocals are sung by the seductive Kim Ann Foxman who has a super-sexy voice an electric stage presence. Whatever happens though, I'm extremely excited about their return. A full review is pending upon album's release. Anyone who finds a torrent should contact me immediately :)

Swiss Army Knives of the Information Age

[this isn't strictly music related but in addition to an audiophile I'm also a bibliophile so maybe this will interest some of you too]

For Christmas this year, I received the much welcome gift of the (no brands in this article) e-reader. When the gift-giver first hinted that they were going to give me an e-reader I was a little disappointed after having been enticed by advertisements to look into tablets. However, if you're a big reader like me, you'll quickly realize that reading text on a back-lit color screen is going to make you feel pretty awful if you do it for more than twenty minutes straight (as you would when reading an ink and paper volume). But that means that tablets and other secondary reading devices are going to suck as e-readers! What?! Multi-function devices are not always better?!? I can't send email, watch Netflix, look at porn, play minesweeper, videochat, blog, and shop online at the same time on a single device without sacrificing quality?! Blasphemy!

The only devices that have the power to truly serve as omnibus companions are computers but companies continue to successfully trick the consumer into thinking that their underpowered little product can replace a computer or serve the same function on the go. We've gotten so intent on requiring our cell phones, for example, to have so many superfluous gadgets that we hardly know the meaning of a single-function consumer electronic.

E-readers display text in black and white, without a back-light, in order to function exclusively as a way to read books and emulate the effect of ink and paper. Even though I can't surf the web in color or make calls on it, this E-reader is completely competent at doing at least one thing. It might seem crass to carry on about this problem but it says a lot about our culture that we're so hungry for convenience that many us are willing to settle for products that do their job less well. For example, the Swiss Army Knife often includes a pair of scissors but we all know that those scissors are just a two-bit version made to fit into the hollows of the knife. It's pretty obvious that those tiny scissors are shit compared to full-function scissors but aren't they convenient?

It's said that he who is jack of all trades is master of none and the idiom seems to apply equally well to the state of electronics. Maybe it's better to have an actual GPS than having a lower quality app version or an actual camera instead of just your iPhone camera. Consumers have sacrificed quality for convenience with multi-function devices merely because we are and have long been a lazy race. If we are all willing to accept mediocrity just because something can fit in our pocket, we're really screwing ourselves as a civilization.