Hey, nerdsters! It’s CMJ Music Marathon time here in New York, which generally means lots of roadies, music biz people, crowds, and bands with guitars. Ewww. Guitars — with no software effects? No vocoding granulizer? No trio of laptops nearby? Not even so much as a keytar? What’s a computer music-loving nerdster to do? Happily, synths are back, and electro is making a strong showing this year. In fact, my problem is that all the bands I care about seem to be scheduled at exactly the same time, which I hear is a typical CMJ problem. But with fun music to look forward to, I’m in a terrific mood — so much so that I think it’s time to enjoy some nerdster-pride vids.

I Want My Nerdster TV

Having made my obligatory crack about generic college rock at CMJ, musical taste is something CDM generally likes to avoid. I believe technology can serve music of all kinds; the idea that computer tech has to be genre-specific was shattered long, long ago. But if you write a love song featuring Commodore 64s and floppy disks — well, come on, everybody’s got to appreciate a gimmick sometimes, especially with a catchy tune. Computer Camp Love comes to us from Datarock, who earn extra cred by collaborating with fellow Norwegian rockstar Annie, and generally being from Norway, which is one of CDM’s Favorite Countries. Sadly, I can’t go see them Thursday, because I’ll be too busy hanging out with Simian Mobile Disco.

Computers are love:

And I also believe electro is important: it takes a campaign to get America’s plain-vanilla taste in rock instrumentation (guitar, bass, drums again, eh?) out of the box in this decade. (That’s why it’s especially cool Thomas Dolby recently added live brass.)

But how to do it? I think you just have to do something funky, danceable, with the word electro repeated over and over again. The punky UK-based Tigerpicks demonstrate. Witness:

I like the alternative electro dimension they inhabit.

Update: Yes, I know they’re cheesy. Yes, I know this is the word electro, not the music. They intend nothing else. I had a friend in college who would spray Cheez Whiz into his mouth. It’s like that. (Wait … suddenly hungry.) Just play along. Now I’m going to work on a track that shouts “Trashcore Jazzadelic IDM Glitch Funk!” I’ll see you in 72 hours. End of line.

CMJ Notes

If you’ve got any hot band tips or you yourself are playing here, let me know. I’ll come say hi. The more obscure you are, the better. 😉

cnet’s Caroline McCarthy (a fellow “downtown Manhattanite”) has a terrific take on the digital music side of CMJ:
CMJ’s Music Marathon: What’s in store for digital music?

  • I am getting sick of this electro bandwagon. 🙂

    I do lots of fighting to show guitars and synths together musn't suck, guitars alone aren't "boring" and modern electronic music musn't simply be sound design wankery.

    Datarock's record doesnt really do any of these goals for me, even though this single is the best on the disc. They are basically man or astro minus surf plus dance music.

    With not as cool costumes. 😀

    Tigerpicks is a little better, but too bad they all work at American apparel for their dayjobs.

  • Ha!

    Well, I agree on all points. This track is good fun, though. And while I'm a lover of fine food, sometimes I enjoy cotton candy. Plenty of electro qualifies nicely.

    Though, ah, Man or Astro… those were the days.

    ps — I love rock bands with guitars. CMJ can just get a little … erm … out of hand. Let's just say I'm glad I'm not blogging it for Rolling Stone; don't think I could do that for 30 shows a day for a full week straight any more than I could hang out for a week at the National Flute Convention. (Can't! Hear! Rachmaninoff! Concerto! One! More! Time!)

  • at the risk of getting labeled by the dreaded "purist" label, I want to say that eff that fake electro bull—t. it aint no electro punk, electroclash or electrohouse. its called electro bass yo!!!!!

    adidas track suits, 808 beats, dynamixx II and drexciya. dont sleep 😛

  • Gustavo

    +1^999999999 to that.

    I saw the Tigerpicks video, and my first reaction was "this is electro?!?!?!"

    Its f*cking Barbie and the Rockers after discovering cocaine, hot topic, and catching the clap.

  • As I said, they just repeat the word electro.

    Though the scenario you paint happens to be the subject of my new young adult novella. Catch my book signing at the North Fork Mall Waldenbooks Saturday.

  • Peter Kearney

    Tigerpicks is like 80's big hair rock band with a bad dance beat.

    For electro, try elecktroids – elektroworld on warp records (1995). It's a whole different universe.

    Drexciya gives me the creeps in nine different ways. Just the story of their origin alone is freaky.

  • Hungry Antelope

    Tigerpicks isn't electro… It is electro-clash, and I thought that gimmick went totally out of style in 2004 at the latest.

    Real "Electro" would be Aux 88 or Drexciya or something kickin like that.

  • Okay, think I was misunderstood here, but believe it or not, I didn't pick out Tigerpicks for their musical innovation or because they typify a genre. I chose them for their nearly B52's-esque take on electro-crash and utterly silly video. (Computer Camp Love is, likewise, a silly gimmicky song that features crushes and floppy disks.)

    CMJ, for its part, I leave to other people to sort out.

  • Bob

    Erm Elektroids (no c) is Drexciya, or at least one half.

  • Jim G

    "Okay, think I was misunderstood here"

    No, I think you just misunderstood. A bad disco beat and chugging guitars != electro, regardless of what they're wearing.

    Vocode.com is a good spot for the real deal.

  • Gustavo

    Hahahah… nobody is grumpier and pickier than serious Electro-geeks. 🙂

  • we are a wank electro punk band, its a shameless plug i know but i read this site every day and thought you wouldn't mind