Monday, May 13, 2013

The Best of Bowie 1970-1979, ranking all his albums from least to best

 David Bowie is, aside from The Beatles, and Velvet Underground, the most influencial artist of all time. His work, (especially in his heyday in the 70s still stands today as one of the most amazing timeframes of any artist. The rankings only reflect my personal opinion of every album. I think they're all great, and I listened to every one of them and enjoy them. Just because I rank one above another means I dislike the lower one. I have so many memories attached to his music, I truly enjoy almost all of his work (yes, even his 80s output, though listening to Tonight requires LOTS of patience, I would only recommend that album to hardcore fans), I would only put The Cure, and REM up there as far as my personal faves. David Bowie has always been innovative, changing styles, changing themes and working with some incredible musicians throughout his career such as Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, Carlos Alomar, Rick Wakeman, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Nile Rodgers, Adrian Belew, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Luther Vandross, Gail Ann Dorsey, Reeves Gabrels, The Sales brothers, . No one album is like the rest and in the 70s he explored VERY different avenues, including glam rock, Krautrock, funk, you name it! He was one of the main influenced for punk, goth rock, new wave, electronic music. he helped bring ambient music into the mainstream. Very few come close to his influence. I'll be ranking these from low(lol!)est to highest. Let's start! There are several lists like this online, I'm not going by other people's opinion of these albums, just my personal take on them.

#10 Lodger (1979)

This album never fully grabbed me. It's part 3 of the infamous Berlin trilogy, along with Low and Heroes which we will get to soon. Lodger was the last album Bowie would record in the 70s, and end to that era if you will. After exploring all his different ideas with over 10 studio albums in the 70s alone, here Bowie seems bored. There is a distance in the songs, an escapism, it's a distant record that is a tad hard to relate to. He even rehashed some old ideas.. Red Money is the same song as Sister Midnight, which was on Iggy Pop's Lust for Life album, which they both recorded together.. Some songs you might recognize are Boys Keep Swinging, which Bowie famously played on SNL along with Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias, and Look Back In Anger which has guitarist Carlos Alomar seriously shredding.
Boys Keep Swinging:
Look Back In Anger:

#9 Young Americans (1975)

Bowie's soul album. After recording Diamond Dogs (which does have hints of soul at times) this was Bowie trying another persona, white soul boy. This album features backing vocals from future superstar Luthor Vandross and features a memorable appearance by the legendary John Lennon on the hit song Fame. It's Bowie putting on nother disguise. he does a mediocre cover of the Beatles Across the Universe and the title track is one I usually skip, Way too many saxophones in here and it sounds conformist and not as edgy as his previous and later albums. Still, a great effort and still better than most other music out there. Not an album I revisit often but still a decent record.
Young Americans:

#8 Heroes (1977)
Sidenote. I feel that most Bowie album sound better on vinyl, aside from Heroes and Aladdin Sane, I own all his 70s albums on vinyl. This and Low has all instrumental tracks on the 2nd side. It works well. Heroes, aside from the amazing title track, which talks of a couple meeting at the Berlin Wall despite the violence and separation between East and west Berlin is one of the most romantic songs ever. The album doesn't quite grab me like the rest. I don't listen to it much. I do like Robert Fripp's guitar work here and the song Moss Garden is a true work of art. It's an instrumental piece featuring a koto, which is a Japanese string instrument. I would also mention this, along with Low and Lodger were part of what is called the "Berlin" trilogy... albums Bowie recorded with Brian Eno, while going to Berlin to kick his drug habit...though Lodger was mainly recorded in Switzerland.
Moss Garden:

#7 Aladdin Sane (1973)

Released after Ziggy Stardust, this was Bowie's first album as an actual rock star. The title of this record was a pun of the words, a lad insane, which was inspired by David Bowie's brother, Terry, who was schizophrenic. This record has to do with travelling and Bowie's duality of mind, represented by the lightning bolt on the cover. He said it had to do with the conflict of being up on stage and at the same time, not wanting to be on the buses surrounded by strange people. A very interesting record, less disjointed than Man Who Sold The World, yet more rocking than Hunky Dory. It's an ode to fame, with songs like Watch That Man, yet a warning of it's pitfalls, such as in Jean Genie, inspired by his friend, and sometimes recording partner, Iggy Pop. Some of my favorites include Time, with it's awesome keyboard, and of course, A great album in parts, but the parts are greater than the whole. A good album, but at times the production is a bit off, vocals are buried in the mix in certain songs. Still, interesting ideas and concept.
Jean Genie:

#6 The Man Who Sold The World (1970)

Released in 1970, this album kicked off the 70s for David Bowie and was the first album to featur the future Spiders From Mars. This featured Mick Ronson on guitar for the first time. What I love about this album is the constant change in themes. This is when Bowie was heavily influenced by literary authors such as Nietzsche, Kafka, and Crowley. Songs about supermen, computers and his brother's mental illness are all on this record. On a personal note this was the first Bowie album that truly spoke to me. All The Madmen was always one of my favorite songs, it's about celebrating insanity as a way of uniqueness, I love that concept. The title track was famously covered by Nirvana, and while I like Nirvana's version, Bowie's version feels cold, distant. This whole album is rather dark and scifi like. The song After All is a sorta lullaby to all the adult children out there, the hippies, the disconnected ones. Brilliant, with echoes of heavy metal, coutesy of guitarist Mick Ronson. The Supermen is another great song about this race of superhumans who existed before time, possible inspired by H.P. Lovecraft or Nietzsche. There is an otherworldy feel to this record, sorta goth-like at times. Not one of Bowie's bestsellers, but an album I constantly go back to.
The Man Who Sold The World:
All The Madmen:

#5 Diamond Dogs (1974)

Released after Aladdin Sane, this has been said to be the end of Bowie's glam rock phase. With this album, Bowie disbanded the Spiders from Mars and decided to play guitar himself. This was meant to be a concept album based of George Orwell's novel 1984, but Bowie was not granted permission, but still there are songs referencing it, such as 1984, and Big Brother. This album is what I would call apocalyptic disco. There are hints of his future soul work, mixed with glam rock. Really interesting stuff. His most popular song here is Rebel Rebel, with it's Rolling Stones like riff, and of course the title track. This album was the first to employ the cut-up method, popularized by William S. Burroughs and used on the song Sweet Thing. A very scary record, full of visual imagery that requires several listens to really understand the concept and story. Brilliant record.
Rebel Rebel:

#4 Station to Station (1976)
What I find most hilarious about this is that David Bowie has no recollection of recording this! This was released in 1987, right before his Berlin trilogy and right after the soulfull Young Americans. Bowie was heavily into drugs, especially cocaine, and like Man Who Sold The World, the lyrics are heavily influenced by Nietzsche, Crowley, mythology, and religion. At times, a very numb album, and at times very funky and discolike. This album was the ultimate contridiction. If I had any complaints, I wish they has recorded more songs. This only has 6 songs, but what amazing songs. I did a previous list of best bowie songs and the title track was near the top. So epic at over 10 minutes long, full of religious imagery, more Crowley references (white stains), and Kaballah influences. It's all over the place but very cynical. Also on the album is the song Golden Years, which Bowie played on Soul Train where he was drugged out of his mind! This whole period of his life was very dark as Bowie himself admitted. But what great songs. Golden Years is about the limelight, etc.. Word on A Wing is another song about religion, guilt, prayer, redemption. All his years experimenting with different genres, looks, etc.. really pay off here. I also like his cover of Wild Is the Wind, it fits really well on this album.
Station to Station:
Golden Years:

#3 Low (1977)
The first part of the Berlin trilogy and one of my favorites, This was right after the drug filled highs of Station to Station. This album was about Bowie getting off drugs, recording this in Berlin with Brian Eno. After all the chaos his life had become, Low was the perfect soundtrack to sobriety. Very minimal lyrics on the first side and all instrumental songs on the second. Perfect for relaxing and thinking. The first side drives hope that point of getting off drugs and features songs about boredom and depression, but still there is hope. Side two is full of soft synths that make you feel that hope. The album is full of broken shards of songs. This record has to be the most influential Bowie record. His vocal delivery is a tad lower than other albums. He doesn't quite rach those high notes often here. This was recorded at the same time that Bowie was producing Iggy Pop's albums The Idiot and Lust for Life, which he also helped cowrite some songs. Iggy Pop does backing vocals on this album's What the world. These are not traditional songs and to be honest it took me a while to really see it's beauty. It emphasizes mood and feeling over traditional songs and structures. It a bold record and one of my all time favorites. Always Crashing in the Same Car is full of reckless abandon and Be My Wife was Bowie's plea to save his failing marriage. Always emotional, bleak, and hopeful. one of the best.
Be My Wife:
Sound and Vision:
Always Crashing in the Same Car:

#2 The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1972)

Bowie's rock star album. His most popular from the 70s. This was a rock opera that doesn't sound like one. The songs flow together in a way that doesn't feel trite or cobbled together. This is Bowie's finest hour. Released in 1972, right after Hunky Dory, this is about Bowie the space alien, coming to earth and his ultimate demise. Five Years tells of the coming end times. a warning to the future, and starman has one of the most infectious choruses ever. The title track is one of the most popular David Bowie songs and with reason. That opening riff, the weird, surreal lyrics, everything about it is perfection. His tribute to Mark Bolan of T. Rex entitled Lady Stardust is very sentimental and a fitting tribute. What really stands out here is the vocals. Bowie has never sounded better, especially when reaching those desperate notes in the closer Rock N Roll Suicide. The one strange thing about the album is how well it flows together, as opposed to other Bowie albums which explore many different genres and avenues. It is perhaps his most cohesive sounding album. This album made Bowie a household name and a true superstar for years to come. Look for the version which contains two bonus tracks, Velvet Goldmine and Sweet Head. two superb songs that should have been on this album.
Ziggy Stardust:
Rock N Roll Suicide:

#1 Hunky Dory (1971)
This album is essential to any collection. not just a David Bowie one. This was released right before Ziggy Stardust and right after The Man Who Sold the World. It's that nice sweet spot in between. Not quite as rocking as either, this has many folk elements and touches of piano thrown in. Bowie continues his Crowley and Nietzsche obsession with the song Quicksand, which talks about the golden dawn and the concept of superman. Why I ranked this at #1 is the song Life On Mars. Bowie's best song. Soft piano, Bowie's trademark surreal imagery about lawmen beating up the wrong guy, etc... Many tributes run throughout this album. The songs Andy Warhol, Song for Bob Dylan...Queen Bitch is a tribute to the rock and roll of The Velvet Underground. and the song Bewlay Brothers is a fitting tribute to his older schizophrenic brother Terry, who Bowie would later write about in other songs. I really love the chanted lyrics in this song and weird effects on Bowie's voice. Changes is the most wellknown song on here, about growing up and changing, as well as Oh! You pretty things. Kooks is one of my personal favorites, an anthem for all the weirdos. so many great songs, a mixture of his early folk and the rock that was to come. A beautiful album cover. Just perfection at every turn. If you heard Ziggy and didn't care for it, go listen to Hunky Dory.
Oh! You Pretty Things:
Life on Mars:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dead Can Dance, Dinosaur Jr. and Red Hot Chili Peppers at Coachella

Dead Can Dance

Dead Can Dance released their latest album, Anastasis last year. What an amazing album! I had the chance to see them at the Gibson Amphitheater last year and it remains one of the most amazing shows of my life. I just found out yesterday that they are closing down that amphitheater after 40 years to build a new ride for Universal. It's sad. I will have fond memories of that night Dead Can Dance were there. Their sets are always amazing. This one relies pretty heavily on songs from their latest album, but they still play some old songs. Check it out:
1. Children of the Sun
2. Agape
3. Amnesia
4. Nierika
5. Kiko
6. Black Sun
7. Sanvean
8. The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove

Dinosaur Jr.

Dinosaur Jr might as well be called Dinosaur St at this point. It was very strange to see J Mascis with a full head of grey hair, but it was still suiting for them considering their age. It showed how far they had come. They were one of the main highlights at Coachella. They even played a song from their first cassette, back in the early 80s. It was a tight set and it was nice to see an 80s band still have it. They also played some stuff from the 90s when Lou Barlow wasn't in the band (Out There, Feel the Pain). A great set!
1. The Lung
2. Watch the Corners
3. Rude
4. Out There
5. Feel The Pain
6. The Wagon
7. Training Ground” (Deep Wound)
8. Start Choppin 9. Freak Scene
10. Sludgefeast

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Another great show I saw last year was the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Staples Center. The Hall of Fame group closed Sunday's set with a very long setlist. They played songs from almost all their albums and were tight as ever. Check out the video
  1. Monarchy of Roses
  2. Dani California
  3. Otherside
  4. Look Around
    (Stone Cold Bush Intro Tease)
  5. Can't Stop
    (Extended Intro)
  6. Snow ((Hey Oh))
  7. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
  8. Tell Me Baby
    (Beast of Burden by The Rolling Stones tease before intro)
  9. Parallel Universe
  10. Under the Bridge
    (Funky Crime Tease)
  11. Ethiopia
  12. Higher Ground
  13. Californication
  14. By the Way
  15. Encore:
  16. Chad & Mauro & Josh Jam
  17. Around the World
  18. Give It Away 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Live at Coachella, Social Distortion, Nick Cave, Violent Femmes, New Order, Johnny Marr

Coachella is an annual music festival held in Indio, California which brings together bands of all genres to one place. Previous headliners have included Nine Inch Nails, Morrissey, Love and Rockets, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, and Rage Against the Machine. This year's lineup featured an array of bands from new wave, to punk, to hiphop, to EDM, to indie rock, and so on. Here are some of the best sets this year. I will add more as I find them.

Social Distortion

Social D brings their familiar sound to the Indio stage. They started the set with their 1996 radio single, I Was Wrong and closed the set with their classic cover of Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire. They even played a song  (Machine Gun Blues) off their most recent album, 2011's Fast Times and Nursery Rhymes. Here is the setlist:

1. “I Was Wrong”
2. “Reach for the Sky”
3. “Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown”
4. “Story of My Life”
5. “Machine Gun Blues”
6. “Mommy’s Little Monster”
7. “California (Hustle and Flow)”
8. “Highway 101″
9. “Ring of Fire”

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

Nick Cave was doing double duty at Coachella, with his other band, Grinderman doing a set on Saturday. He performed a few songs off his most recent album, Push the Sky Away, along with old favorites such as Stagger Lee, and from Her To Eternity. Here is the complete setlist and complete video:

1. “Jubilee Street”
2. “From Her to Eternity”
3. “Red Right Hand”
4. “Deanna”
5. “Jack the Ripper”
6. “Stagger Lee”
7. “The Mercy Seat”
8. “Push the Sky Away”

Violent Femmes
The 1980s were huge for alternative music, and you could not avoid the classic Violent Femmes hit, Blister in the Sun. That song was off their 1983 debut selftitled album. The Violent Femmes have not played in over 5 years, but reunited at Coachella where they played their entire debut album in its entirety. Check out the setlist and video here:

1. “Blister in the Sun”
2. “Kiss Off”
3. “Please Do Not Go”
4. “Add It Up”
5. “Confessions”
6. “Prove My Love”
7. “Promise”
8. “To the Kill”
9. “Gone Daddy Gone”
20. “Good Feeling”
21. “Gimme the Car”
22. “I Held Her in My Arms”
23. “American Music”

New Order

The band played an amazing set. I could not find a complete video but I did find 2 songclips of opener, Crystal, and their most amazing song, The Perfect Kiss
The Perfect Kiss:

Johnny Marr

There were rumors of there finally being a Smiths reunion at Coachella, sadly it was not to be, but Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr did a set promoting his new album and did a cover of the Smiths classic, There is A Light That Never Goes Out and also performing the Jam classic with singer Paul Weller, Town Called Malice.

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out:
Johhny Marr with Paul Weller (The Jam) - Town Called Malice

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

David Bowie's The Next Day

On David Bowie's 66th birthday, he returned with a surprising single, Where Are We Now, which was released on Bowie's 66th birthday. David Bowie's last album was 2003's Reality, and aside from one-off cameos with Arcade Fire and Pink Floyd, we haven't heard anything from him. Most assumed he was retired and would never release another album. This, from a man who in the 70s averaged an album per year. (and what a track record!). When news broke out of a new Bowie album, one wonders whether it is necessary, or how it will fit in today's culture. One thing one must remember about Bowie, he was never about fitting in. Always a trendsetter and always ahead of the game and unpredictable, this album reinvents Bowie once again. Some, like, Where are We now, are more reflective, a shoutout to his 70s Berlin work, (also the cover is his 1977 album, Heroes, with a white square over it, further alluding to his 70s work). Other songs are more rocking, such as the 2nd single, The Stars Are Out tonight (catch the video for it with actress Tilda Swinton), which is way more upbeat and rocking. What I love about this album is that it almost plays like a greatest hits collection, in which every song is completely different and offers something new every time you hear it. When you look at popular music today, you wonder where Bowie fits in. He's completely different than the manufactured pop stars, gangsta rappers and hipsters dominating the charts today. Despite that, this album went to #1 in over 12 countries, including his first #1 in the UK. In the Us it debuted at #2, behind Bon Jovi, which is still commendable. This album rocks and sways and it destined to be on many album of the year charts. There is a little something for everyone here. While not quite as bombastic as Hunky Dory, and Ziggy Stardust, this album will rank among Bowie's best! Check out these tracks.

The Stars Are Out Tonight:
Where Are We Now?:
I'd Rather Be High:
How Does The Grass Grow

Monday, March 18, 2013

Depeche Mode streaming new album, Delta Machine and Depeche Mode on David Letterman

Depeche Mode's 13th fulllength album, Delta Machine will be released on March 26, here in the US but you can listen to it about a week in advance on iTunes at the following link.

Here is what Dave Gahan had to say about the new album. “When we hit a wall where we realize the album is beginning to sound too normal, we’ll mess it up and really give it that organic Depeche Mode Sound. Delta Machine is no different, and I can’t wait for all of our fans to hear it.”

My opinion on the album is mixed. There are some good songs on it, it's an improvement over Sounds of the Universe but it's no Violator or Black Celebration. Maybe the songs will grow on me but we will have to wait and see. In other news, Depeche Mode also played some songs on Letterman. Check it out!

They did a 9 song set, performing some classics as well as some new songs in support of their new album. Here is the setlist:

01. Angel
02. Should Be Higher
03. Walking In My Shoes
04. Barrel Of A Gun
05. Heaven
06. Personal Jesus
07. Soft Touch / Raw Nerve
08. Soothe My Soul
09. Enjoy The Silence


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Peter Murphy announces new tour, setlist to be composed of all Bauhaus songs

Peter Murphy, who continues to have a successful solo career (his latest album being 2011's Ninth) is going on tour again. This tour will mark the 35th anniversary of his former band, Bauhaus, and to celebrate, he will be touring the United States and Europe and performing all Bauhaus material. Bauhaus lasted from 1978-1983, after which Peter Murphy embarked on a solo career, and the rest of the band went on tour to form Love and Rockets, and Tones on Tail, with guitarist Daniel Ash releasing a few solo albums, and David J releasing a few as well. Bauhaus had a few reunions in 1998 and toured from 2005 (performing at that year's annual Coachella festival), touring with Nine Inch Nails in 2006, and releasing an album (Go Away White in 2008). The band seems to be broken up for good but I could see another reunion in the future. This is not the first time Peter has performed all Bauhaus material (he did a show in Santa Ana, California doing all Bauhaus songs and another where he performed the entire Deep album). This tour will be called the Mr. Moonlight tour: Celebrating 35 years of Bauhaus. Here is the press release:

In a news release, Murphy says, “Since 2006, I have included my Bauhaus work into my solo work as a way of tipping my hat to my own audience…those who discovered my early work as well as new and old fans of those years strong wishes to hear the music of my band crackle and spark in the live arena. Being the foremost advocate of this Bauhaus work, I decided the time was ripe to at last give a pure Bauhaus experience in one Mr. Moonlight world tour. Mr. Moonlight is alive and well, don’t doubt it.”

Tourdates are as follows;

Peter Murphy’s Mr. Moonlight Tour: Celebrating 35 Years of Bauhaus:
April 22: The Korova, San Antonio, TX
April 23: The Belmont, Austin, TX
April 24: Granada Theater, Dallas, TX
April 26: Numbers, Houston, TX
April 27: Spanish Moon, Baton Rouge, LA
April 28: Vinyl Music Hall, Pensacola, FL
April 30: Grand Central, Miami, FL
May 1: The Orpheum, Tampa, FL
May 2: Terminal West, Atlanta, GA
May 3: Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte, N.C.
May 4: U Street Music Hall, Washington, D.C.
May 5: Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA
May 7: Webster Hall, New York, NY
May 9: The Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA
May 10: Lee’s Palace, Toronto, ON
May 11: Town Ballroom, Buffalo, NY
May 12: Mr. Smalls Theatre, Millvale, PA
May 13: Magic Stick, Detroit, MI
May 15: Deluxe at Old National Centre, Indianapolis, IN
May 16: House of Blues, Chicago, IL
May 18: FMX Festival de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
May 22: Christuskirche, Bochum, DE
May 23: Substage, Karlsruhe, DE
May 24: Komplex Klub, Zurich, CH
May 26: Orion, Rome, IT
May 27: Magazzini Generali, Milan, IT
May 29: Sala Arena, Madrid, ES
May 30: Coliseum, Lisbon, PT
June 1: Bikini Barcelona, Barcelona, ES
June 3: AB, Brussels, BE
June 5: Trabendo, Paris, FR
June 6: Effenaar, Eindhoven, NL
June 7: Knust, Hamburg, DE
June 8: Loppen, Copenhagen, DK
June 10: Debaser Medis, Stockholm, SE
June 12: Tayastia, Helsinki, FI
June 14: Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, UK
June 15: Oran Mor, Glasgow, UK
June 17: Academy 2, Birmingham, UK
June 18: Academy, Bristol, UK
June 19: Islington Academy, London, UK
July 13: Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, AZ
July 14: TBA, Albuquerque, NM
July 16: Summit Music Hall, Denver, CO
July 17: Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City, UT
July 18: Visual Arts Collective, Garden City, ID
July 19: Showbox Theatre, Seattle, WA
July 20: TBA, Vancouver, BC
July 21: Hawthorne Theatre, Portland, OR
July 23: The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA
July 24: Las Vegas Country Saloon, Las Vegas, NV
July 27: Fonda Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
July 28: Belly Up Tavern, Solana Beach, CA

anyone interested in tickets: go to Peter Murphy's official website

some classic Bauhaus tracks:

Bela Lugosi's Dead:
 Lagartija Nick:
 She's In Parties:
 Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie cover):
 The Sanity Assassin:
Double Dare:
In The Flat Field:
Dark Entries:
 Who Killed Mr. Moonlight:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

David Bowie releases new single The Stars (Are Out Tonight)

Last Tuesday, David Bowie premiered his new single, The Stars (Are Out Tonight), which is the 2nd single from his upcoming album, The Next Day, due out in March. This follows last month's surprise single "Where Are We Now?". Unlike that song, The Stars (Are Out Tonight) is a more upbeat song, which producer Tony Visconti promised that the new album would have more upbeat tracks. The song is good, but what's most interesting is the music video. The video sees Bowie and actress Tilda Swinton (We Need To Talk About Kevin, The Deep End, Michael Clayton), portraying a couple who are being stalked by these creepy neighbors next store, portrayed by models, Andrej Pejic and Saskia de Brauw. The video is directed by Floria Sigismondi (who directed the movie The Runaways, as well as directing music videos for Bowie, Marilyn Manson, The Cure, Leonard Cohen, Bjork and many others), The video features her trademark, jittery, stopmotion camerawork, and is truly a work of art. Watch the video here:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Skinny Puppy announce new album, Weapon out in May

Skinny Puppy, the Canadian industrial group who have been making music since the early 80s (and featured Bill Leeb from Frontline Assembly for a short while) are releasing their next full length album, entitled Weapon on May 28th. This is their first album of new material since 2011's hanDover (OhGr's solo album unDeveloped was released earlier the same year). This new album, Weapon seems to be concerned with gun culture, judging by the press release and tracklisting. Skinny Puppy have always been a political band, engaging in issues such as equal rights, animal rights, etc...  I look forward to this new album from Nivek OhGr and Cevin Key. Here is the press release and tracklisting..
 This stunning new album stands as a commentary on that which it is named after, the Weapon, or more specifically, to the concurrent glorification of the gun culture and simultaneous horror at the devastation the gun can cause. Given this view, the pop undertones of the albums opening wornin' and the compelling counterpoint of the vocals and lyrics seem to reflect our mass media homogenization of an instrument of death into an entertainment centerpiece. illisiT could then be focusing on the authoritarian control applied to us under the guise of protecting us from the criminal element. Though possibly it is from the view of the average citizen, arming themselves against the threat of each other. The more it is analyzed, the more it could be pondered on varying levels. Perhaps the classic Skinny Puppy sounds evident in the song solvent are a nod to not only the past, but to a bleak Orwellian future, cycle of the weapon leads only to power in the hands of those who have no fear of using it. Are we facing a 1984 dystopia filtered through a Kafkaesque lens? A world where the illusion of power given to the private citizen afforded ownership of a weapon distracts them from the Big Brother drones that watch overhead?

Parallels could certainly be drawn from our own society to a track like tsudanama, where the ever building menace of the mechanized rhythms crashes over the listener in waves as the vocals at times seem to take the tone of the voice of protest, standing against the inevitable tide of the dystopian path of progress. Then does plasiCage implore the listener to take up the fight against a gun worship culture and the spiraling towards oligarchy? Or are the mournful tones terminal a funeral dirge for our society?

Could the weapon be the gun, or the one who wields it? Is it in creating an arms race among the populace, or does it lie in the resulting authoritarian control given to those who are charged with protecting us from ourselves? Is it the power to profit from the cycle? Is it the singular act of speaking against the conditioning of our thoughts and actions?

01. wornin'
02. illisiT
03. saLvo
04. gLowbeL
05. solvent
06. paragUn
07. survivalisto
08. tsudanama
09. plastiCage
10. terminal

And here are some classic Skinny Puppy tracks to hold you over.....

Smothered Hope
Dig It
Stairs and Flowers
Killing Game

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Album reviews for February, 2012

A new year will bring a few new directions in this blog. The first is that, due to time and other obligations, the reviews will now be monthly, at varying times during the month. This will help me keep it focused and not as random as they have been. That being said, it has been a tremendous month for music with many new releases and news of upcoming albums. And we commence:

Bad Religion - True North

On this, the band's 16th album, Bad Religion rely on some old tricks. It is one of their shortest since 1988's Suffer, and maybe this is a good thing. Previous albums did have some filler tracks. (their last two especially), and the band has trimmed the fat. This record is one of their best since 1992's Generator. Tracks such as Robin Hood In Reverse, True North, and Everybody Knows. Greg Graffin has a degree in zoology and teaches at UCLA, and Bad Religion's trademark dictionary like vocabulary is still intact. You won't find many albums nowadays with words such as plutocrat, and declination. It's incredible that even at their old age, they still manage to make awesome music and have such energy.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away

Nick Cave has several incarnations. the crazed screecher on the Birthday Party, the crooner and sometimes poet with the Bad Seeds, and the loud rock of Grinderman. This album, the band's 15th album recalls albums such as The Boatman's Call and No More Shall We Part. It's worth noting that this is their first album without Mick Harvey, who has been the Bad Seeds guitarist of nearly 30 years. Warren Ellis really shines on this album, and you can hear lush strings and lots of flutes. The first single, We No Who U R, is built on a drum machine, and sees Nick being the crooner once again. Another highlight is Jubilee Street, which is about a murdered prostitute (which would fit in on Murder Ballads), and one of my favorites is the song Higgs Boson Blues, in which Nick Cave makes references to everything from Lucifer, to Robert Johnson to Hanna Montana. Theses songs supposedly came about from "random Googling and reading wikipedia entries" and it's a fitting tribute to our information age, and sees Nick mellowing out, but still rocking. The closing title track may be one of the most beautiful songs Nick has ever done,and one of the best closers to an album ever. One word to describe this: hallucinogenic.

Monday, February 4, 2013

New Depeche Mode single: Heaven, new album, Delta Machine out March 26

Depeche Mode are back with a new single. The calming song, "Heaven", off their soon to be released album Delta Machine, which comes out officially on March 26. Here is the album art:
It will be produced by Ben Hellier and mixed by Flood. I, for one, am happy to have Flood back at least in a mixing capacity. Flood recorded albums such as Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and Adore by Smashing Pumpkins, Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails, and Becoming X by Sneaker Pimps, among several Depeche Mode Nick Cave and U2 albums. I hope this will turn out better than 2009's Songs of the Universe, which I felt was very bland. Here is their first single, Heaven.

I find this song kinda...whatever, perhaps it will grow on me, and here is another song that has leaked, Angel.
I actually like this one better. I cannot wait to hear the entire album. Here is the tracklisting for the new album:

The album will be released by Columbia Records in a standard CD format and a deluxe edition featuring a bonus disc with four additional tracks as well as a 28-page hardcover book. Here is the tracklisting.

1. “Welcome to My World”
2. “Angel”
3. “Heaven”
4. “Secret to the End”
5. “My Little Universe”
6. “Slow”
7. “Broken”
8. “The Child Inside”
9. “Soft Touch/Raw Nerve”
10. “Should Be Higher”
11. “Alone”
12. “Soothe My Soul”
13. “Goodbye”

Bonus disc:
1. “Long Time Lie”
2. “Happens All the Time”
3. “Always”
4. “All That’s Mine”

They will do a European tour followed by a US tour in summer or early fall.I really hope to see them live this year!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Original and cover; Havana Affair

Havana Affair was a song originally by the punk group The Ramones. It appeared on their debut self-titled debut album released in 1976. One of their first political songs. It was basically about the US meddling in Cuban affairs. It's about a guy who had a productive job in Cuba picking bananas, now he's living in the US working for the CIA. It's a fun, short song with not many lyrics. It's a straightforward punk rock song and I love the way Joey Ramone says banana in this song. Here it is:
In 2003, Johnny Ramone himself was presented with the idea of bands doing covers of Ramones songs. He agreed as long as he had full control. Rob Zombie contributed album art, and Stephen King (a long time Ramones fan) wrote the liner notes. It includes bands such as KISS, Garbage, Marilyn Manson, Metallica, U2, Green Day, Eddie Vedder, among others. Johnny Ramone liked The Red Hot Chili Peppers version of Havana Affair so much, that the album opened with that song. The Red Hot Chili Peppers have a bit of a different take on the song. Their version is more nuanced, more rock, less punk so it has a bit of a mellow vibe to it. I love the guitar especially. I love the Ramones but I do prefer the cover from Red Hot Chili Peppers myself. Here it is.

PT-boat on the way to Havana
I used to make a living, man
Pickin' the banana.
Now I'm a guide for the CIA
Hooray for the USA!

Baby, baby, make me a loco
Baby, baby, make me a mambo

Sent to spy on a Cuban talent show
First stop- Havana au go-go
I used to make a living, man
Pickin' the banana
Hooray for Havana!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Red Hot Chili Peppers release 5th set of 7" singles, Pink as Floyd and Your Eyes Girl, 4 more singles left!

On January 4th, The Red Hot Chili Peppers unveiled their latest 7" single for the songs Pink as Floyd and Your Eyes Girl. These songs are from the sessions that brought us 2011's I'm With You album. These are basically songs that didn't make the album. These songs are getting more experimental as time goes on. The band is sounding tighter than ever and Josh is a great addition to the band. First the song Pink As Floyd:
As the title suggests, this is a bit of an homage to Pink Floyd. There are very nice spacey strings in this song, and I have never heard anything like it from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This song was played live on their recent tour, including one of the stops right here in Los Angeles. I really like this song and it's becoming one of my favorites. One of the most interesting choruses in a Chili Peppers song.Here are the lyrics

 Coming up next is the song Your Eyes Girl, which you can hear right here:
This song could have fit in on One Hot Minute. There's a bit of profanity from Flea on here at the beginning. This is another somewhat trippy song and I could tell why it was chosen on this set. I love the guitar in this song, it's completely out there. Check out the songs and look for the next set of singles out next month.  Here are handwritten lyrics for this song.