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!