Taylor Swift / Reputation

reputation

Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American singer-songwriter. One of the leading contemporary recording artists, she is known for narrative songs about her personal life, which have received widespread media coverage.

Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Swift moved to Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 14 to pursue a career in country music. She signed with the label Big Machine Records and became the youngest artist ever signed by the Sony/ATV Music publishing house. Her self-titled debut album in 2006 peaked at number five on the Billboard 200 and spent the most weeks on the chart in the 2000s. The album’s third single, “Our Song“, made her the youngest person to single-handedly write and perform a number-one song on the Hot Country Songs chart. Swift’s second album, Fearless, was released in 2008. Buoyed by the success of pop crossover singles “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me“, Fearless became the best-selling album of 2009 in the United States. The album won four Grammy Awards, with Swift becoming the youngest Album of the Year winner.

Swift was the sole writer of her 2010 album, Speak Now. It debuted at number one in the United States and the single “Mean” won two Grammy Awards. Her fourth album, Red (2012), yielded the successful singles “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble“. With her fifth album, the pop-focused 1989 (2014), she became the first act to have three albums sell a million copies within one week in the United States. Its singles “Shake It Off“, “Blank Space“, and “Bad Blood” reached number one in the US, Australia, and Canada. The album received three Grammy Awards, and Swift became the first woman and fifth act overall to win Album of the Year twice. The 2015 concert tour for 1989 became one of the highest-grossing of the decade. Swift’s sixth album, Reputation (2017) and its lead single “Look What You Made Me Do” topped the UK and US charts.

As a songwriter, Swift has received awards from the Nashville Songwriters Association and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and was included in Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time in 2015. She is also the recipient of 10 Grammy Awards, five Guinness World Records, one Emmy Award, 21 Billboard Music Awards, 12 Country Music Association Awards, eight Academy of Country Music Awards, and one Brit Award. Swift is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 40 million albums—including 27.8 million in the US—and 130 million single downloads. She has appeared in Time‘s 100 most influential people in the world (2010 and 2015), Forbes top-earning women in music (2011–2015), Forbes 100 most powerful women (2015), and Forbes Celebrity 100(2016). She was the youngest woman to be included in the third of these, ranked first in Celebrity 100 and was named Time Person of the Year in 2017 as part of the “Silence Breakers”.

Reputation (stylized as reputation) is the sixth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on November 10, 2017, through Big Machine Records. The record was primarily produced by Jack AntonoffMax MartinShellback and Swift herself, who also serves as the executive producer. Featured artists included on the album are English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and American rapper Future.

The album has topped the charts in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. According to Nielsen SoundScanReputation sold 1.216 million copies in the US during its first week, becoming 2017’s best-selling album in the country, and 2 million copies worldwide.

The Analysis—-

….Ready For It?—-Far gone is the Country Star of long ago…lol. This track is a BANGER…..full of staccato bass lines and hyper kinetic dance floor music that makes you almost want to scream. The magic is the melody line that runs through the song…it never disappears despite the musical changes…it is always there. This is a bit poppy lyrically….but it does suck you in.

End Game [featuring Ed Sheeran & Future]—-Classic sounding Taylor at the onset of this track quickly gives way to the more aggressive sound that covers most of this release. Future delivers line after line of catchy sentences that fit the music perfectly. Swift has an almost venom to her vocal delivery…Sheeran delivers his lines that are pleasant…but the real star of the show really is Swift…who displays her musical advancement in leaps and bounds. A true single if I have ever heard one…this is great.

I Did Something Bad—-As the third song is introduced…I find myself thinking that this all suffers from a slight ‘sameness’ in the sound. Every song seems to be a bot to familiar. The chorus of this song….well…it kind of blows me away…I’m amazed at the growth and the ability to step out of one’s skin. This is catchy as hell….the chorus is addictive. I did not want to like this….but you know how that goes.

Don’t Blame Me—-A slight bluesy feel to this track…a nice change. Swift delivers a vocal that is almost lazy..or at least more relaxed and less driven. The chorus opens up and smacks you in the forehead with a catchy melody you can’t get away from….this is pleasant…addictive and an easy listen. I like this. Took me to Church!!!!

Delicate—-I hate all this vocodor shit…but it works nicely hear. Swift manages to fit so any words in one sentence…I wonder how she manages to do this. There is very little music that is produced these days that actually falls in the realm of POP MUSIC…..but this is pretty successful in that aspect. This is accessible and easy to digest. I love the entire mood of the song.

Look What You Made Me Do—-Returning to the ‘banger’ feel of a few earlier tracks, this was indeed a Swift no one was prepared to hear….but here it is. The song is very aggressive musically and in vocal delivery. there is a nice underlying anger that makes you shake you head and say WHAT? This is nice….the remixes are phenomenal…..truly a change. This track has so many underlying messages…..

So It Goes….—–Magically mixing the sound of the release with perfect song placement, this is a fantastic jerk in sound and delivery. The chorus of this song is literally magical…the music swirls OVER the top of your head…transporting you into an energy that crashes all around you when the chorus smacks you again. This is single material as well….this is a fantastic, well constructed song that literally soars.

Gorgeous—-Vocally static and sounding a bit angry, swift never ceases to surprise me with her growth and ability to move from one feel to the other. This song…sounds a bit angry and full of venom…but is delivered in a nice syrup sweet way….this is really nice.

Getaway Car—-The return of slight vocodor vocal……but Swift still delivers a vocal that is so damn accessible. The whole damn chorus smacks you in the face and makes you forget about everything else you have heard. There is a recipe here that works some kind of magic in your brain that makes you dissolve into some kind of pop music puddle you can’t get out of…..truly magical.

King Of My Heart—-Sedate and wonderfully understated for the first bar….the music explodes in a staccato style that fits the mood of the song…but seems confused to me. Where is this track going? The swings of musical delivers sound un organized to me…a slight falter…but sure…the chorus saves everything….the recipe of a great pop artist.

Dancing With Our Hands Tied—-Everything seems to build slowly…..Swift enters with her vocal….it is surprisingly un accessible to my ears….but line after line, the song builds…and then you get the magical chorus that is in every Swift song….but it does not dig out the dirt….this just seems OK to me….nothing shiny here…..

Dress—-A bit of a haunting sound introduces this track…..Swift sounds angry and a bit dis-embodied as she delivers her vocal. The higher tone….with the music is interesting. There is a bit of a lag here….the magic catchy hooks are gone…but it is listenable….because there is a musical melody line that catches your attention….

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things—-Returning to that present static vocal style that ushers in a banger style song, I’m surprised until the chorus kicks in….this literally threatens me with the ability to live in my brain even though I say NO…..there is magic in this production…..they knew what they were doing!

Call It What You Want—-Hmm……things are surprisingly sedate at the onset here. I still get amazed at how many words Swift can fit in one sentence…..it is a clear indication she understands music. The song….full of lyrics that are full of a bit of venom and anger……does not really catch for me…I keep waiting for that special something….but it never appears…….this is a bit flat for me.

New Year’s Day—-Ending the release with a slight down tempo track, this is the Swift that the tweeners love….full of emotion….sad words and laments of romance……for me not too substantial……sorry

**** out of 5

 

 

The Cranberries / Gold

Gold

The Cranberries are an Irish rock band formed in Limerick in 1989 by lead singer Niall Quinn, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan, and drummer Fergal Lawler. Quinn was replaced as lead singer by Dolores O’Riordan in 1990. Although widely associated with alternative rock, the band’s sound also incorporates indie poppost-punkIrish folk, and pop rock elements.

The Cranberries rose to international fame in the 1990s with their debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, which became a commercial success. The Cranberries have sold over 40 million records worldwide. The band achieved four top 20 albums on the Billboard 200 chart (Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?No Need to ArgueTo the Faithful Departed and Bury the Hatchet) and eight top 20 singles on the Modern Rock Tracks chart (“Linger“, “Dreams“, “Zombie“, “Ode to My Family“, “Ridiculous Thoughts“, “Salvation“, “Free to Decide“, and “Promises“).

In early 2009, after a six-year hiatus, the Cranberries reunited and began a North American tour, followed by shows in Latin America and Europe. The band recorded their sixth album Roses in May 2011, and released it in February 2012. Something Else, an album covering earlier songs together with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, was released in April 2017.

On 15 January 2018, lead singer Dolores O’Riordan was found dead in a London hotel room. She had recently arrived in London for a recording session.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

Dreams—-Perhaps THE track that helped to define the sound of The Cranberries, the remarkable combination of Irish tinged folk rock combined with an Alternative sound, allowed the band to be embraced by massive amounts of fans. The driving and wonderful vocal from Dolores is the key to all of these songs here. One of the defining vocalists of the 90’s, I never get tired of the magic found in here voice.

Sunday—-With a beautiful string based intro, the song puts you in a certain frame of mind from the very first notes. The swells of quiet music takes nothing away from the power of the band…instead it shows diversity and musical growth. This is a beautiful track…..when the track finally opens up you are at once comfortable and familiar with the sound. This is quite beautiful.

Pretty—-Again, the music is stark and empty at the onset….really carrying the 90’s Alternative torch with the feel of the song. Dolores sounds ghostly and haunted in her vocal..it literally transports you places with the tone and the urgency. A poignant track considering the singer’s backstory.

How—-A fantastic almost tribal drum introduces the track. The voice is slight and quiet…but still manages to convey an urgency and demand to pay attention. As the song opens up further the vocal becomes louder and almost pleading in sound. This is quite wonderful….a voice like no other.

Not Sorry—-Consistent in sound, the guitars are a bit more pronounced and Alt in sound…truly reminding you of the 90’s Rock sound. Dolores is mystical and magical in tone. Not a favorite track…but it fits in with the collection really well.

Linger—-The opening guitar parts remind you immediately of the track you are listening to. As the flow of the song takes shape, it becomes more beautiful with every bar of sound. The vocal is just hear wrenching…Dolores had a remarkable range and phrasing that stood the test of time. This is a remarkable track…full of emotion and full of memories for me. I love this.

 

Liar—-A very distinct guitar sound ushers in a slight different sound for the band. This seems a bit out of place in the song placement but diversity is key…right? This sounds a bit auto biographical….Dolores sings with a bit of a punch underlying the upfront pleasant vocal. This is full of a great musical display by the rhythm section of the band…full bodied and instrumentally emotional.

Zombie—-Another massive hit for the band, it is hard to forget this track. Full of the fuzzy 90’s guitar sound from Seattle, this is energetic and poignant. Dolores is a vocal power house of this track…..making me almost lose my mind with the urgency and almost pleading style she sings with. The chorus is a masterpiece of power and fuzz…energy and heart break. This was a magical musical moment.

 

Ode To My Family—-Quite poppy and catchy, Dolores even sounds a bit relaxed vocally as the track begins. The almost whispered vocal at the onset is almost buried in the instrumentation. The double track voice gives the song that needed emotional punch in your gut. When the voice moves up front…you feel every single word she utters…a wonderful song.

I Can’t Be With You—-Surprisingly poppy in sound, the guitars are so understated on this track…the saving grace for me is when the chorus hits and opens the song wide open. The vocal…even understated is still full of a certain urgency and magic. this is brighter that I expected…but still has a punch in the chorus.

Empty—-This track….seems slight and starkly naked to me at times. The music is so understated and pushed to the back…you get no power chords at the onset. The magical vocal is very upfront and displays a range that is seldom heard from Dolores….rising and falling in tone and emotion. this is a bit to stripped down for me…but I love when the strings enter and give the song an almost magical quality.

Everything I Said—-So quiet and understated for me, I much prefer the band when the emit those huge power chords and energy. The ballad after ballad on this collection becomes a bit tiresome at times…but it is the catalog I suppose. This is quiet all the way around…even the vocal seems a bit less than inspired…but the words…if you pay attention…may just rip your heart out.

Ridiculous Thoughts—-Stark…I know I have used that word a lot here, musically this is so understated at the onset….and then SURPRISE….the track opens wide open and delivers a more powerful performance that goes back in the glory days of more 90’s inspired Alt-Rock. This is a welcome change after the last 6 tracks. The band sounds phenomenal…and Dolores sounds like a new breath was breathed into her….just wonderful.

Dreaming My Dreams—-Very quiet and delivered almost in a naked way, Dolores almost whispers her way through the song. The guitars are acoustic in sound and the drums are relegated to cymbals and a slight high hat. The cello…or strings lay the foundation of this very understated track.

Daffodil Lament—-Again…..the introduction sets the tone for more lament and regret….the guitars are missing…the piano seems to lead the song…then in the back drop…way removed…there is a magical noisy element to the song that makes me smile and brings me a joy. The song ebbs and flows with power and sadness…but still delivers a magic that I love about the band.

So Cold In Ireland—-Ending the first disc with yet another stripped down and melancholy tack that brings a sadness and haunted feel. The vocal is so full of that Irish brogue….I love the tone….but I need some energy at this point….and then the chorus hits and the song becomes muscular and driving….I love this song.

Disc Two:

Salvation—-Delivering an almost punk sound, this is full of energy and a certain magic the band had in the early days of the career. This is addictive…..energetic and damn entertaining. The instrumentation is driving and inspired…I never get tired of this. The vocal sounds inspired as well…..conveying an urgent message that needed to be heard by everyone. Wonderful.

 

Free To Decide—-Full of a magical melody from the very onset, the vocal seems to wrap around right in the music. the lyrics….seem even more important on this day for me. Dolores sounds amazing and convincing…like she was emerging from a darkness…that never really went away. I love this song so much….makes me really miss her.

When You’re Gone—-Such a sad song now….the thing that I love about this track…the guitar has a magical Johnny Marr sound to it….in fact the entire thing reminds me of The Smiths. The lyrical content is so sad to me….although I love the quasi-50’s feel to the song as well. This is a very favorite track of mine. So important now….

 

Hollywood—-Quiet for the first bar, then a barrage of sound smacks you in the face with a remarkable energy. Dolores sounds almost possessed at times with her driving vocal. This is a wonderfully fantastic song…the lyrics make you sit back and think about your life and the drama you might cause yourself. The huge wall of musical sound is extraordinary…..I love this.

Cordell—-Beautifully melodic and dense from the onset, the guitar is exquisite…even it it’s quiet form. Dolores delivers and understated but incredibly powerful vocal. You can feel the pain and the melancholy…the added double track vocal fills everything out….a rarely heard masterpiece of music.

Animal Instinct—-So full of a magical melody, this track is damn addictive…I listen to this over and over again. The blend of harmonious vocals suck you right into the sound. This is another magical track that does not get played enough….this was a band being so creative and working so well together. I really love this.

Promises—-A slow intro ushers in another magically muscular track that is full of energy and aggression. Dolores sounds driven to deliver her message…I love the huge sound of the music….it matches and at the same time compliments the vocal in a way that only this band could do. This is just fantastic.

 

You And Me—-Quiet and a bit introspective…but it fits my ears perfectly at this very moment. The stark quality of the song is wonderfully welcome and lifts me from my seat in a magical way. The voice literally wraps right around my cerebellum….giving me warmth and comfort. wonderful song placement.

Just My Imagination—-A bit hit and miss for me…..the poppy feel of the song confuses me a little bit. i love the double track vocal…the magical harmonies add a bit of depth to a fairly unforgettable song. That is just my opinion. I love the mood…there is a happy feel to the song…it is rather uplifting.

Never Grow Old—-Haunting and really sad at this current time. I never really listened to this so intently as I have today….it makes me tear up and feel a bit empty inside…I have lost so many personal heroes in these last few years….this is a sad lament…read into it as you will….for me there is a message.

Analyse—-Bombastic and magically aggressive from the very first note, this is a wonderful track. This has that same melody quality that drove certain songs to the top of the charts…I wonder why this was not far more heard on radio and by fans. This is just fantastic….fairly simple lyrically…the feel of the song says more to me than the words actually do…it you can understand that. This is a wonderful moment in time.

Time Is Ticking Out—-Another magically melodic track that is muscular in sound…you still poignant somehow. Dolores delivers a remarkable vocal…the chorus threatens to stay in your brain for days after just one listen….the Cranberry recipe was in full effect here. I love this song.

This Is The Day—-Sounding almost like a continuation from the previous track, this has many elements of songs that really propelled this band into the upper escalations of Modern Rock. Not only the vocal mind you, the music and the feel the band delivers was as important as the voice. This is a huge song…in sound and delivery. I love this.

New New York—-Aggressive and driving guitars literally create a wall of sound that threatens to drown out even the vocal. This track quiets a bit….but carries a true New York energy throughout the entire song….calling Lou Reed to mind. I love the energy of this song…..fantastic. Huge and Muscular.

Stars—-Rounding out this compilation with a nice melodic track that makes me relaxed…and allows me o look back on a beloved band…..love them and cherish that almost every song has a wonderful memory for me in my own personal history. Isn’t that what music is all about….memories…love…joy…sadness…..the humanness of life….thank you Dolores!!!

*****out of 5

 

 

 

 

The Restless Romantics / A SoundCloud Sampler

“The Reckless Romantics were a power trio based out of Los Angeles, CA and lead by Raphael Ascanio. Fueled by beer, whiskey, marijuana, and Raphael’s lament, the trio existed and performed improvised renditions of Raphael’s regrets, failures and lamentations. The band is currently on hiatus until the drummer is out of jail.”

The Analysis—-

Drinking About You—-Wonderfully constructed in the way the best 80’s synth pop was, this takes me back to the New romantic movement of that time. The disembodied vocal…full of a slight pain and loneliness still manages to sound suave and relaxed. A remarkable throwback sound that is at the same time, quite modern.

 

For Aurora—-Literally reeking of the classic Morrissey/Marr compilations of the mid 80’s, the slight and exquisite jangly guitar sound is fantastic. The higher tuned guitar seems to lay right on top of the vocal…creating a wonderful blanket of sound that makes you want to snuggle deep into. Masterfully delivered…this is fantastic.

 

Demo—-This live recording really catches the energy and the raw feel of the band. The style is classic Joy Division to my ears…the bass leads the song…but the crashing drums gives off a remarkable energy. The vocal sound is fantastic for a live demo…the deep baritone literally wraps around my head. This band has really captured me….I anxiously await more material from this up and coming band.

 

**** out of 5

 

David Bowie / Hunky Dory

 

Hunky Dory (180 Gram Vinyl)

Hunky Dory is the fourth studio album by the English musician David Bowie, released on 17 December 1971 by RCA RecordsIt was his first release through RCA, which would be his label for the next decade. Hunky Dory has been described by AllMusic‘s Stephen Thomas Erlewine as having “a kaleidoscopic array of pop styles, tied together only by Bowie’s sense of vision: a sweeping, cinematic mélange of high and low art, ambiguous sexuality, kitsch, and class”.

The album has received critical acclaim since its release, and is regarded as one of Bowie’s best works. Time chose it as part of their “100 best albums of all time” list in January 2010, with journalist Josh Tyrangiel praising Bowie’s “earthbound ambition to be a bohopoet with prodigal style”. The style of the album cover, designed by George Underwood, was influenced by a Marlene Dietrich photo book that Bowie took with him to the photo shoot.

The Analysis—-

Changes—-One of the most loved and well received tracks in the massive Bowie catalog, this track still plays so incredibly well today. The smooth and eccentric style of Bowie’s style at the time are all over this record. This was an artist becoming into his own…all the while surprising us at every turn. I loved this man….like he was a member of my family…I miss him…and this is just a small reason why. A magnificent track.

Oh! You Pretty Things—-Bowie…in his best quirky vocal style, delivers a song that is one for the history books. This is a remarkable vocal delivery….Bowie causing us to study every single line and asking ‘What Does This All Mean’? I fell so in love with this record. When the chorus opens up with that double track vocal…you can allow yourself to be taken somewhere else…somewhere you have never been. The song makes me incredibly happy for some reason…the lyrics and music…a huge joyous affair.

 

Eight-Line Poem—-Wonderfully delivered piano and blues based guitar intro that lulls you into a magical comfortable zone where you find it very easy to lose yourself. And that is before you hear a single word. Bowie enters with a croon that is so remarkable…it wraps right around the music….and amazingly…it all becomes one huge entity that lives in your brain forever. This is beautiful…experimental…erratic…and masterfully constructed. Damn, I loved this guy!

Life On Mars—-So wonderfully constructed and delivered. Bowie delivers a vocal and music that drives me to a euphoria that is hard to describe. The chorus is a fantastic joyous affair…Bowie sings his heart out….driving me to study every word…..the quaint lyrics, combined with the euphoric chorus is a moment in time I will never forget.

Kooks—-Tinny guitars and a folksy delivery introduce the track…a tribute to his new born son Zowie. The love that he feels is portrayed in the music…everything plays like a wonderful lullaby to his son. This is a wonderful and warm moment…it reeks of love and affection.

Quicksand—-Still reeking of the 70’s rock-folk movement at the time, I love how even back in those days, they managed to move the clear and wonderful vocal to the very front of the song. This is remarkably emotional and delivered in a masterful acoustic style that sounds so fresh and real to me today. This was masterful.

Fill Your Heart—-Jaunty and sounding like a show tune from long ago, this was the ability of the man. This is so light…pleasant and filled with moods and quirky musical sty lings. Perhaps my favorite Bowie release ever, this album always reminds me of why I fell in love with the persona of Bowie. This is a magic moment.

Andy Warhol—-You can’t be a Bowie fan without finding obsessions with Warhol and Lou Reed. This song produced in me, a life long obsession with every word I could ever find out about Warhol…then I found out how it all tied together. The song is fantastic…tongue in cheek and a bit hilarious. I love this moment in time. Bowie understood the genius…..as did Warhol!

Song For Bob Dylan—-Twangy and with a slight Country twinge to the whole damn affair, Bowie manages to portray the feelings about Dylan at the time. This is constructed so well…sliding back and forth between the Alt-Country feel to the more modern guitar based Bowie, this was brilliant.

The Bewlay Brothers—-Nice and rock based. this is a perfect closer to such an eclectic release. Bowie almost talk his way through this track…but with perfect pitch changes and enunciation. This is just perfect.

*****out of 5

 

 

Blondie / Pollinator

Pollinator

Blondie is an American rock band founded by singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein. The band was a pioneer in the early American new wave and punk scenes of the mid-late 1970s. Its first two albums contained strong elements of these genres, and although successful in the United Kingdom and Australia, Blondie was regarded as an underground band in the United States until the release of Parallel Lines in 1978. Over the next three years, the band achieved several hit singles including “Heart of Glass“, “Call Me“, “Rapture” and “The Tide Is High” and became noted for its eclectic mix of musical styles incorporating elements of discopopreggae, and early rap music.

Blondie disbanded after the release of its sixth studio album The Hunter in 1982. Debbie Harry continued to pursue a solo career with varied results after taking a few years off to care for partner Chris Stein, who was diagnosed with pemphigus, a rare autoimmune disease of the skin. The band re-formed in 1997, achieving renewed success and a number one single in the United Kingdom with “Maria” in 1999, exactly 20 years after their first UK No.1 single (“Heart of Glass”).

The group toured and performed throughout the world during the following years, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Blondie has sold 40 million records worldwide and is still active. The band’s tenth studio album Ghosts of Download, was released in 2014 and their eleventh studio album Pollinator was released on May 5, 2017.

Pollinator is the eleventh studio album by American rock band Blondie, released on May 5, 2017 by BMG Rights Management.

The Analysis—-

Doom Or Destiny—-The drums that introduce the song are classic Blondie. It is amazing at this point in life how fresh and young Debby Harry sounds…you would think this was recorded long ago. The New Wave leanings of the band are in full effect…the jaunty and pogo style of music sounds just amazing. this is brilliant….I am amazed at the fresh sound of the band.

Long Time—-Funny intro introduction that sounds like A Heart Of Glass, I guess this is Part II. This is a brilliant song…the mood is so nostalgic…the vocal is damn near perfect. Harry sounds comfortable and ageless. The driving instrumentation is timeless. I have fallen in love all over again with a band I have not paid much attention too. This is a brilliant track….a miracle for my ears.

Already Naked—-Huge wakes of guitars introduce the song…..the vocal enters with a nice reverb and echo that sounds fresh and brand new. This is brilliant….the melody of the song is so damn contagious and new…I have no idea how they keep surprising me. This is a favorite of mine from this release. The sound is remarkable…the style is consistent…the melody wakes me up at night. A pure triumph.

Fun—-I did not really care for this track upon the first listen…it took a bit for the quirky Nile Rodgers style melody to ingratiate with my brain. Even the vocal is a bit to high to make me feel comfortable with….but eventually, I guess the inner workings of the song worked a magic and became stuck in my brain. This is not the best I have heard…but the chorus and the melody is pretty damn contagious.

 

My Monster—-I like this….much more guitar and drum based…going back to the more consistent erratic style the band always had with the music. Harry delivers a deep sounding vocal that seems pushed to the back of the mix a bit more than i expected. The chorus allows a brief New Wave style synth sound that sticks in your brain. Not bad.

Best Day Ever—-A nice guitar intro…but the remarkable thing is the magical New Wave-ish vocal from Harry that sucks me in….the vocal is so clear and concise. The music never threatens to over play on the voice…even when things open up on the chorus and the music becomes more layered. This is really nice…very consistent.

Gravity—-I love the intro music for this track….reminding me of classic Devo intro music. Harry has a vocal that is delivered with a bit of unnecessary distortion…the fuzz becomes a bit annoying after a bi..I would rather have that remarkable clarity instead. This is nice…but not a favorite. The saving grace is the remarkable chorus and melody line.

When I Gave Up On You—-I loved this right from the very beginning…..Harry delivers an almost lazy sounding vocal that is sultry and aggressive at the same time. This is full of sexy, mellow sounds that lull you into a nice mood. The chorus is wonderful….never bombastic, it is pleasant and addictive none the less.

Love Level—-Much more aggressive in drum and guitar delivery, there is still a remarkable pop element to the track. Harry sounds so incredibly young with her vocal…delivering line after line of fresh sounding words. The hook seems to be missing a bit here for me…but as a whole, the song is pretty damn great. The male vocal slight rap in the break was a surprise…but still Harry is the star of the show.

Too Much—-I love, love, love the intro to this song. The instrumentation is instantly addictive. harry enters into the song with a fresh vocal that allows you to hear every single word. The chorus is a fantastic, HUGE romp through perfect pop music renderings. This is a real favorite of mine….every element of the song could fit on any Blondie release from the past. This is damn magical.

Fragments—-Hmm….this is fairly dark and plodding…taking away from the pop mastery of the previous track. Harry though, delivers such a strong and emotional vocal. This makes me think of classic 80’s band The Motels. I don’t hate this…but it has not caught my attention very much. The song does pick up magically at the mid-point…with the vocal becoming a bit more angry and full of vehemence. I can tolerate it.

The Breaks—-Really great drum based intro, this again finds that remarkable airy vocal from harry in full effect. The drums….are really the star of the show on this track…which is actually the B-Side from the single Long Time. It fits perfectly in the mood of the album.

**** 1/2 out of 5

The Killers / Wonderful Wonderful

Wonderful Wonderful

The Killers are an American rock band formed in Las VegasNevada, in 2001 by members Brandon Flowers (lead vocals, keyboards, bass) and Dave Keuning (lead guitar, backing vocals). Mark Stoermer (bass, rhythm guitar, backing vocals) and Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. (drums, percussion) would complete the current lineup of the band in 2002. The band’s name is derived from a logo on the bass drum of a fictitious band, portrayed in the music video for the New Order song “Crystal“.

The band has released five chart topping studio albums: Hot Fuss (2004), Sam’s Town (2006), Day & Age (2008), Battle Born(2012) and Wonderful Wonderful (2017). They have also released a B-sides and rarities compilationSawdust (2007); a live album, Live from the Royal Albert Hall (2009); a greatest hits album Direct Hits (2013); and a Christmas compilation Don’t Waste Your Wishes (2016).

The Killers are seen as one of the biggest rock bands of the 21st century, and the most successful rock band to ever emerge from the state of Nevada, having sold an estimated 22 million records worldwide. They have also achieved worldwide success as a live band, performing in over 50 countries and on six continents, headlining venues such as Madison Square Garden and Wembley Stadium.

The Killers released their fifth studio album, entitled Wonderful Wonderful, on September 22, 2017. The album was produced by Jacknife Leeand lead single “The Man” was released on June 14, 2017.

Wonderful Wonderful become the band’s first album to reach the number one spot on the US Billboard 200it also claimed the top spot on the UK Album Chart making The Killers the first international act to have their first five studio albums all reach number one in the UK.

The Analysis—-

Wonderful Wonderful—-A nice almost sonic intro leads up to a strong bass line that slowly allows for the introduction of Brandon and his unmistakable vocal. The track has a nice dark one to it…leaving the poppy madness of earlier releases in the dusk. It is when the chorus hits that you understand the beauty and mastery of the track. The faux [?] horns and big sound is unmistakable…..the song slowly grows on you. I’m sure his track will generate many U2 comparisons.

The Man—-A huge intro reminds you for sure that this is indeed The Killers. Brandon delivers a vocal that shines like a million stars. the remarkable melody line runs through the entire track…delivering a quasi-dance floor track that reminds me of the glorious days of bar music. Brandon and his vocal sounds refreshed and driven with an ambition not heard recently. This is stellar.

Rut—-A surprising introduction to the song…but what follows is just pure magic to my ears. As in many past releases, Flowers seems to call on his inner Springsteen to deliver a quiet but damn powerful ode. The music swirls around your head and gives your soul a slight joy…and causes you to push the replay button more than once. For me, this is a magical track.

Life To Come—-Coming out of the silence with a low hum, Flowers enters over a sad and forlorn sound that again brings forth the Boss. The vocal is in the very front of the mix…as the music becomes even stronger, you are again reminded of classic U2 sounds that made the band so popular. When the song finally reaches it’s crescendo. you realize it is imperative to sit through the quieter moments. Just fantastic!

Run For Cover—-The intro to this track reminds me of classic Interpol so much…the atmospheric bass line and the building music. Flowers enters with an urgent vocal that drives the song along with the pace of the music. The chorus hits you and makes your brain agree…this is a classic Killers track. Huge and built for arenas, this will play so well live. I have no words for the mastery here…this is brilliant.

 

Tyson Vs Douglas—-Interesting track from the opening effects…..the music that opens the track is hyper kinetic and delivered with a nice urgency. I love the reminiscent quality of the song…this is obviously Vegas inspired. Flowers delivers that classic huge chorus that makes the band seem literally monstrous. It is a joy to know that he magic is still there….the band has never sounded better. This is a monumental track.

Some Kind Of Love—-With incredible song placement, the band returns to a more somber feel here and allows you to realize the band is so much more than Glam and Glitz. This is magically quiet and beautiful…Flowers reaching notes I didn’t think he was capable of. The ghostly and funeral feel of the song gives me goosebumps. This is fantastic…..

Out Of My Mind—-Brilliant and crisp guitars and drums open the track. Flowers sounds so much like Bono on this track, I’m almost confused. The lyrics…on every single song on this release, are meaningful and lead you somewhere. I don’t really care for the chorus here…the female singers seem to almost take the spotlight away from Flowers who is in the best voice here than in recent memory. Still a great track though…full of nostalgic lyrics.

The Calling—-Wow….politically charged and filled with lyrics that will make you sit back and think for a minute. The bluesy quality of this track came as a slight surprise to me…the classic downbeat guitar is remarkable…as well as the drums. The vocal is a bit to staccato for me…but the lyrical content is made to allow you to think. I really, if I do have a complaint about this release, do not like the female vocals all over this release. Other than that…no complaints here.

Have All The Songs Been Written?—-Ending this release on a fairly somber note, Flowers delivers such a remarkably clear and concise vocal…I have chills once again The music…a slow and low hum interrupted by short guitar notes gives the track and even lonelier feel. This is a magical track….the beats pick up and the song becomes a bit larger as it continues…but you never lose that lonely and melodramatic effect. Just masterful.

**** out of 5

 

 

Berlin / Best Of Berlin 1979-1988

Best of Berlin 1979-1988

Berlin is an American new wave band. The group was formed in Orange County in 1978 by John Crawford (bass guitar). Band members included Crawford, Terri Nunn (vocals), David Diamond (keyboards), Ric Olsen (guitar), Matt Reid (keyboards) and Rod Learned (drums). The band gained mainstream-commercial success in the early 1980s with singles including “The Metro“, “Sex (I’m A…)“, “No More Words” and then in the mid 1980s with the chart-topping single “Take My Breath Away” from the 1986 film Top Gun.

The Analysis—-

Blowin’ Sky High—-For me, Berlin was one of the under-rated and under appreciated bands of the early 80’s. The tight musicianship, combined with the strong and flexible voice of Nunn helped to create a landscape of material and helped the band become mainstays on MTV. Crawford had an unmistakable guitar style that ebbed and flowed around the vocal. This track, never a huge hit…which I don’t understand, has that rhythmic guitar song that drives it to great heights at the chorus aided by super strong drums. This is a standout track.

No More Words—-There is always a remarkable power and slight anger to be found with many of the songs from Berlin. Nunn delivers a huge vocal….full of an underlying rage and betrayal that makes it instantly approachable. The song…full of trademark 80’s synth sounds comes across now as a bit dated. But if you zero in on the vocal and all of the power from the band, you will find yourself hooked all over again. The ‘breaks’ in the song are classic.

Like Flames—-I have never understood the fickle ways of American pop music listeners! For me, this may be one of the best tracks the band ever produced…but it received little or no attention from fans and/or radio. The vocal is so full of emotion…the band plays with a renewed intensity…the hook of the song stays in your brain for days after just one listen. The galloping musical intro of the song is shattered with a ballsy yell from Nunn. The vocal that follows is so strong and filled with emotion…this is by far my favorite track from this band. It literally makes me want to jump up and down and lose control.

 

Take My Breath Away—-Taken from the blockbuster film Top Gun, this track is largely considered to be the reason for the demise of the band. A mega-hit all over the world, it moved from the traditional sound of the band into a sound the rest of the band was uncomfortable with. Berlin was never really known for the ‘love song component’ and this really did not fit the image the majority of the band had set for themselves. I can take or leave this track..it became too huge, too overplayed and too worn out. The vocal is a bit to whispery for me…the arrangement robbed Nunn of that powerhouse alto she had become known for.

Sex [I’m A…]—-The single that primarily brought the band to the forefront of the New Wave movement in the early 80’s, this is laden with a synth line and effects that drive you to the dance floor. The trademark sounds of the song…full of everything that defined the time period, the song was just interesting enough in content to have us all paying attention. The two vocal delivery is really nice and seldom heard from the band. the synth line is straight out of the Moroder playbook. Still plays really well.

Now It’s My Turn—-Driving synth lines introduce the song and finds Nunn delivering another slight wispy vocal that takes a bit to grow on you. there is a strength in the subtle approach she uses, and the double track lay out gives a bit more bolster and power to the song. Not a favorite…but it plays really well with this release. The chorus is catchy and well delivered….combing a perfect mix of drums, guitars and synth lines.

Masquerade—-Another really favorite track of mine, I love the end of the song the most off all…when all the double tracks of the song play at once…giving it an irresistible hook appeal you can’t ever forget. Again, the band finds a brilliant middle ground that is able to deliver fantastic guitars and drums with the requisite 80’s synth sound. The vocal is at the very front of the mix…Nunn truly shines here. A remarkable testament that the band had a true direction and ability to deliver.

 

You Don’t Know—-As the track begins, there is a slight throwback sound to the 60’s style music….it seems to fall away as Nunn begins her vocal. This is a bit of a weak track for me. The sound is less power packed and seems a bit airy to me. I’m glad to have it, but I generally skip over this track.

Matter Of Time—-A nice jaunty synth line opens the track. as Nunn begins to sing in an almost robotic style vocal, it fits perfectly into the 80’s playbook of Pop/New Wave songs of the time. the guitars and drums are much more pronounced and up front in the mix. The chorus is a double track affair that sticks in your head and reminds me of something right off of a Josie Cotton record. This is superb.

The Metro—-Another track that allowed the band to continue stacking up hits and plays on MTV, this is a track that can be found on about every 80’s hits compilation. Recognizable from the very first note, the schizoid synth line is addictive as hell. Nunn delivers a mysterious sounding vocal that as the song progresses really shows the power that she is able to emit. This is addictive…it has that perfect recipe of lyrics…vocals and synth line that still sounds incredible today. A true classic.

Will I Ever Understand You—-Much more powerful and guitar based than the past few tracks, this was the kind of stuff that helped to propel the band past the ‘New Wave’ era of the early 80’s. You can’t listen to this and possibly deny the power packed vocal style that Nunn delivered later in the band’s career. There is such a subtle slight angry edge to her vocal….it is sublime but damn effective.

For All Tomorrow’s Lies—-A bit of a lackluster performance for me here. I much prefer the band when they have that more aggressive sound that attracted me to them in the beginning. This is sappy, syrupy sweet and laden with too much melancholy. The vocal is nice…but lacks a true emotion for me.

**** out of 5