Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lost Gem of the 80s #9: Eight Seconds - "Almacantar" (1986)

Almacantar, whatever that means, could only have existed during the cold war. Even though the band is Canadian, and there is nothing overtly political happening in any of the songs, it has that Easter European sound that was big in the 80s. A lot like what the Fixx were doing. Synths took the lead, followed by guitars and a rhythm section that was either way down in the mix, or it was also coming from the synths. I guess by Eastern European, what I really mean is that it sounds like it was performed in a cathedral somewhere in Germany. A cold cathedral.

These guys only had one very modest hit with “Kiss You (When It’s Dangerous)”. Like I said, not overtly political, but the name alone suggests some lurking unrest or foreboding that’s coming from who knows where. They were slightly bigger in their native land, but not enough to be considered more than just a blip on pop radio’s history. Their true calling would have been having their songs playing in the background of a movie montage where some nerdy college students are inadvertently building a nuclear bomb as a finals project. Something so unmistakably 80s in tone and topic that the issues and montage become dated minutes after it was committed to film.

The album isn’t entirely cold synths though. The two highlights have to be “Where’s Bula” and “Zoe”. Again, not sure who either of them are (or what a Bula is?), but the songs have soul and heat, especially for tunes so drenched in synths. Another current touchstone could be Keane. Their first album, especially the song "Bedshaped", sound a lot like half the songs on Almacantar. I almost think Eight Seconds could have a decent plagiarism case going if they wanted to pursue it.

Interesting story about Eight Seconds. When I was 13, my grandma was visiting from Norway (not my real grandma, but may as well have been). She knew of a young Norwegian girl visiting Utah for the summer and suggested we go out. I was told she was 17, so I lied and said I was 15 since I couldn’t drive. For the date, we saw Wang Chung at Symphony Hall (now Abravenel Hall) and Eight Seconds were the opener. I didn’t know who they were, but I thought they were great. I still remember I was wearing a green and pink long-sleeved shirt under a pink cable sweater with the sleeves rolled up. Needless to say, my dad dressed me. It was a fun night, but I felt dumb after the concert when I had to find a pay phone to call my dad to come pick us up. By the way, she turned out to be 19. Poor girl was stuck with the company of a 13 year old for an evening on a DATE! At least the concert was good.

The Nugget - "Zoe". Yes, it's of its time, but the song is catchy and anthemic and should have been a big hit.

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

I remember your "date" with Susanna, but I didn't remember what you wore. That's amazing that Eight Seconds was the warm-up band. I listened to the links you had, and like their sound (reminds me of Human League). That "Bedshaped" video by Keane was interesting; I liked it. You didn't put a link to "Zoe" - were you referring to the group, or to a song? Last night on NPR a music critic was naming his picks for best music for the first half of 2008. He mentioned Bon Iver, Death Cap for Cutie, My Morning Jacket, and a group with Fox in the name. He played excerpts from each, and I really liked them all. Are you familiar with them? It's great to chat with you! Love, Mom