On October 7, arguably the most influential band of the past 50 years, New Order is playing the Greek Theatre. I missed seeing them at Coachella a number of years back, and have been praying for an opportunity to see them live since. So, the fact that in 2 weeks time I will, is amazing.
In my pre-show excitement, I’ve been listening to ALL New Order everything for the past few weeks.
I’ve been opening the show each week with one of my Top 10 favorite tracks for the last 8 weeks. All the non-stop listening has me hearing strains of New Order in everything.
It’s not hard to find. The formula to their sound is as indelible as Coca-Cola. Weaving together push-pull melodies on both guitar and bass, emotive lock-step drumming as precise as any machine, and all of it awash in several layers of synth melody like smoke.
However, like Coca-Cola, as familiar as it is, we’ll never know what the “natural flavors” are. So much of it is just the elegant chaos, volatility and heartbreak of the band’s history.
This motorik, romantic baroque pop sound has carved itself into the DNA of modern music.
In homage, I’ve compiled a short list of a few bands whose albums I think are truly fantastic and whose sound is more or a less a direct descendent of New Order.
Virgina’s Jack Tatum records under the name Wild Nothing. However, the project is not nothing. It’s freaking awesome guitar pop that swirls with shimmery melodies upon melodies. Mostly in chuggy 4/4 time. His first record Gemini is damn near perfect, and his newest one Nocturne keeps it going.
Although The Drums traffic in a much more jangly (almost doo wop-y) pop sound. The inscrutability of their basslines and effortless efficiency of their drums are very New Order to me. Also, they are catchy as hell. It’s like every song they’ve written is a play on the beginning of “Temptation.”
Achieving a brilliant balance between the early, austere, doom-laden New Order of “Ceremony” and the Arthur Baker vibes of “Confusion,” New York synth-pop project Cold Cave makes slow slam dance music. Good for horny, angry outsiders who want to dance by themselves but want to go home with someone at the end of the night. (I can say things like this because I know about it firsthand…it was called my 2001.)
The Radio Dept.
The Radio Dept. hail from Sweden, where crafting perfect pop is a national pasttime. They’ve released a handful of truly lush, dreamy records. And although there is no mention of New Order as an influence on either their Wikipedia or band website, I get the feeling they’re playing hard to get because A) they cite Joy Division and B) the guitar melody on “Pulling Our Weight” is pure Power, Corruption and Lies. Go ahead, compare it to “Leave Me Alone” and tell me I’m wrong.
Thieves Like Us
These guys, Thieves Like Us, are Swedish too. But they’re not ashamed to cite the influence. In fact, they literally named themselves after a New Order song. A little more electronic, and on the dancier side of the spectrum, they are the descendents of the Ibiza-era New Order.
Chromatics are amazing. They’re one of hardest working bands out there right now. The brainchild behind them is Johnny Jewel (he’s also Glass Candy, Desire, & Symmetry.) Jewel helped craft the sound for last year’s Drive, whose whole dark, synthy, romantic aesthetic owes a bit of a debt to New Order. Their latest album, “Kill For Love” is one of the best records of the year and the title cut’s got serious some “Temptation” vibes.
Basically…all roads lead to “Temptation“.