I’m a big fan of legitimate free music downloads, if only because I’m probably one of four people in the whole southern hemisphere who hasn’t used a torrent or P2P service for the last seven years.
It’s not what almost everybody else I know does (and I’ll confess that over the years I’ve spent a tear-inducing amount of money on music that may not always have been up to scratch), but like almost everyone else I also still have my shame pile of unlistened to music. That's because I occasionally go through spates of looking for new music by hunting for free downloads provided by bands, which means I end up with a pile of MP3s in a forgotten folder on my desktop.
One such small collection of tunes that my computer tells me has been on my desktop since January 6, 2012, consists of three free tracks from American electronic goths The Crüxshadows. Founded in 1993, they’re not a band I know much about and I guess they play what would pass for the equivalent of modern darkwave.
To start, I only owned three tracks from various compilations so when they released three free Christmas tracks (go HERE and download them from the right hand column) it doubled the length of my Crüxshadows playlist.
It got me thinking about this band, and made me realise that there are a couple of things I really like about them, even though I don’t know their music anywhere near well enough to consider myself a fan.
First, from what little I know, they seem to have some variety going for them. Yes, it’s that electronically driven synthy darkwave sound that has been done a trillion times before, but they also seem to make use of some cool sounds. They use ‘real’ violins during their recordings and main (male) vocalist Rogue seems to have a fantastic, almost operatically clean voice. The track Citadel (from a Fiend Magazine sampler) is a good example in my view of a track that uses what could be an old-school synth, or at least a modern one that sounds pretty retro.
Secondly, I like that they have dancers. This makes sense in the live setting given that a major component of the music is electronic (it’s hard to jump around on stage holding a big synth), and for all the pretentiousness — be it the umlaut, the main-man’s pseudonym, or the fact that they’re successful goths — I’d like to think this adds something to their shows, in the same way that The Prodigy’s human stage presence was basically made by two guys who couldn’t sing.
The fact that they’re not-at-all-unpleasant-to-look-at dancers certainly helps, as does the fact that they thankfully seem to have a sense of humour (below).
The above video from an Ayria show (another superb electronic artist who is very underrated, plus she’s from Canada so that has to make her 50% better to start) has the dancers bust out of nowhere and do a full routine.
Check out their mad moving skillz.
Check out their mad moving skillz.
The third and by far my most favourite thing I love about this band which, as I said, I really don’t know very much else about, is the fact that once upon a time, back in the United States of America in 2006, for one very brief moment in time they did the unthinkable and managed a number one Billboard single with the track Sophia.
I own the (radio edit version) of this track and I really didn’t think that much of it. Yet that's merely a matter or personal taste and I throw my hat in the air for these guys — an independent band that was virtually unknown by the standards of the commercial music industry — for managing to outdo corporate-backed mega artists.
Never mind the fact that it was a short-lived blip, or that it didn’t break their career and propel The Crüxshadows into mega stardom… for one fleeting moment back then and now forever frozen in time, a song by a bunch of mopey-looking people with funny hair wearing corsets and fishnets was officially at number one — and in September 2006 this meant it outranked P. Diddy.
Take that P Diddy.
To quote Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson, when the Bring Your Daughter… To The Slaughter single did much the same after sitting for one week (and one week only) on top of the UK singles charts, where it consequently knocked Cliff Richard off his perch: “That probably deserves some kind of public service award.”