Boston / Life, Love & Hope

Life, Love & Hope

Boston is an American rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, that achieved their most notable successes during the 1970s and 1980s. Centered on guitarist, keyboardist, songwriter, and producer Tom Scholz, the band is a staple of classic rock radio playlists. Boston’s best-known works include the songs “More Than a Feeling“, “Peace of Mind“, “Foreplay/Long Time“, “Rock and Roll Band“, “Smokin’“, “Don’t Look Back“, and “Amanda“. They have sold more than 75 million records worldwide, including 31 million albums in the United States, of which 17 million were from their self-titled debut album and seven million were for their second album, Don’t Look Back. Altogether, the band has released six studio albums.

Life, Love & Hope is the sixth studio album by American rock band Boston. It was released on December 3, 2013 by Frontiers Records, making it their first studio album in eleven years.It is the first album released following the death of Brad Delp, Delp recorded vocals on the songs “Didn’t Mean to Fall in Love”, “Sail Away”, “Someone”, and “Te Quiero Mia”, the last of which being a re-arrangement of “I Had a Good Time”, from Corporate America.

The Analysis—-

Heaven On Earth—-When you first hear the strains of this music, the trademark sounds of Scholz are so familiar…it is that classic sound of modern day classic radio. The vocal is extraordinary…transporting me magically to a time long ago when this was the biggest band in the world. The vocal is incredible…not sure who is singing here…but the vocal melodies are right out of the classic Boston songbook…this is fantastic to me.

Didn’t Mean To Fall In Love—-This really, right from the onset sounds like an incomplete demo that was not really ready for release. The music drowns out the vocal at times almost totally. This was a cheap attempt to release something that Brad had contributed to…but it was not ready to go. Tom and his sound overwhelms and makes the vocal unforgettable….sad……

Last Day Of School—-Nicely guitar driven but still keeping that old school Boston sound, this has a driving instrumental backing that is huge and full of that Scholz magic. There is an almost sad feel that runs underneath the majestic music….this is almost epic…sounds really great.

Sail Away—-The beginning of this track gave me no hope what so ever. The vocal enters and helps to redeem the song a bit….I like the vocal…even though it sounds a bit hollow at times. I like the epic feel of the music…the female spoken word is unnecessary. I like this…but it is under produced and just a demo…needed more vocal work but Brad was gone by then. Just a way to cash in…I think.

Life, Love & Hope—-A much more Boston friendly sound, even this vocal sounds full and powerful. The trademark sound is here…the one I grew up with. Even though this is not Brad, the vocal matches the ebbs and flows of the music the same as the classic songs did. This is a modern day Prog-rock piece of great music. I really like this!

If You Were In Love—-Hmmm…..really almost unacceptable to me. I don’t like the vocal at all…this is not Boston but an imitation. Even the music that backs this track sounds uninspired and half finished…I rally do not like this…..done!

Someday—-Not a bad song…but not the Boston you expect or are accustomed to. I like the double tracked vocal…it almost impersonates Brad and that full sound that the band used to have. This just seems to be music that is going through the motions….the lack of inspiration is evident and clear. Time to retire the name and move onto something else. The female vocal that interrupts the song ruins any good feeling I had about this track…..

Love Got Away—-A nice ballad that is more acoustic at the onset and gives a fresh perspective of sound rather than trying to repeat the past. The harmonies are very Boston inspired but work well on this track. I don’t know who is doing the vocal…but the harmonies match and the song sounds full and rehearsed rather than rushed and incomplete. I rather like this.

Someone [2.0]—-I like the feel of the music as this track begins….full of the trademark Boston sound. The vocal is really nice…same as the song previous…the voice is clear and harmonious with the instruments…as Boston always was. The odd spoken word BS that enters before the chorus ruins this song for me. Just stick to the basics guys….you really know how to ruin a song.

You Gave Up On Love [2.0]—-This begins really great…with the chorus being the opening lines. The harmonies are huge and full…I like that….This sounds suspiciously like the last track in many spots though. The huge chorus…combined with Scholz music is great…the vocal really soars at points. This is nice….not to much fault with this.

The Way You Look Tonight—-Piano based from the onset, not something you normally associate with Boston. The vocal enters and is very pleasant and acceptable…there are few stellar moments to speak of though. This all just sounds flat and uninspired. This is sludge in my ears.

* out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

The Human League / Anthology-A Very British Synthesizer Group [Deluxe]

Anthology - A Very British Synthesizer Group (Deluxe)

The Human League are an English electronic new wave band formed in Sheffield in 1977. After signing to Virgin Records in 1979, the band released two albums and a string of singles before attaining widespread commercial success with their third album Dare in 1981. The album contained four hit singles, including “Love Action“, “Open Your Heart“, and the UK/US number one hit “Don’t You Want Me“. The band received the Brit Award for Best British Breakthrough Act in 1982. Further hits followed throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, including “Being Boiled“, “Mirror Man“, “Fascination“, “The Lebanon“, “Human” (a US No. 1) and “Tell Me When“.

The band began as an avant-garde all-male synthesizer-based group. The only constant band member since 1977 has been vocalist and songwriter Philip Oakey. Keyboard players Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh both left the band in 1980 to form Heaven 17. Under Oakey’s leadership, the Human League then evolved into a commercially successful synthpopband with a new line-up including female vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley. Since the mid-1990s, the band has essentially been a trio of Oakey, Catherall and Sulley with various sidemen.

Since 1978, the Human League have released nine studio albums, four EPs, 30 singles and several compilation albums. They have had five albums and eight singles in the UK Top 10 and have sold more than 20 million records.

The Analysis—-

Disc One—-

Being Boiled [Fast Version]—-Now…..I will be the first to tell you that I have been a fan of this band for a very, very long time…..but in the same sentence I will tell you that I never paid much attention to the very early works of the band. I thought most of it was rudimentary and frankly unappealing. The best thing Phil ever did was to include the girls in the band and round out the sound of his deep baritone voice. Of course, this track is essential in the history of the band. If this is indeed the fast version, God help us…it is slow, plodding and dark. But the remarkable synth sounds made from such early equipment still remains. The writing was on the wall…this is not the best…but it still plays rather well.

The Dignity Of Labour Pt. 3—-This track has some shinier and brighter synth lines in it…and the pace is a bit more acceptable to me. The missing link is the shine that later material had to it. This is full of space sounds and a dense landscape that is had to grab hold of…..when the piano synth enters, the song becomes brighter…but the dredge is hard to escape from.

Empire Human State—-A nice rhythmic synth line propels this track along at a dance floor pace. The vocal is lone and distant to me….I think the best thing the band ever did was add the girls. The lyrics are shit,,,just pure nonsense and lackluster. I really don’t like this very much…this sounds like Thomas Dolby in kindergarten.

Only After Dark—-Ugh…..I really don’t care for this very much either. The redeeming think about this is the overdubs that combine the vocals  delivered on two different plains…a higher tone and the deep baritone…leading to a landscape of built in harmonies…a shape of the things to come.

Nightclubbing—-This is much in the same vein as the previous ‘singles’ that were released by this band…there is an overriding tone of synth darkness and deep dub sounds that really never appealed to me. The synth effects seem to be on a constant loop that just keep repeating themselves in a monotonous toneless manner. Phil rarely has any vocal inflections and this is really awful to me. Not ready for Nightclubbing!

Boys And Girls—-A dark atmospheric synth opens the track, the big difference is the higher tone of Oakey’s voice…giving the song a lighter feel. The double track vocal adds to the fuller more bright sound of the track…giving the band a seemingly new life and tone. This is much more accessible, and the lyrics really lean towards the crowd that was gravitating to the band….disenfranchised and stigmatized. This is nice.

The Sound Of The Crowd [Instrumental]—-I really would have preferred the version of this track with lyrics. This is not strictly an instrumental but almost like a dub version of the original. You notice the brighter synth tones almost immediately….of course there is a dark underlying tone…but the song was the future of the band…brighter….positive and damn accessible. I love this…a whole new beginning for the band.

Hard Times—-Brighter and full of classic synth sounds of the 80’s, the girls make their appearance and the band takes a dramatic turn toward higher success. The synth sounds are so contagious and the mix of Oakey and the ladies sounds almost like a totally different band. The song is huge in my head phones…taking me back to a time when New Wave was just emerging and we misfits had finally found a band to fall in love with. The slight out of tune synth line makes the track even more charming.

Love Action [I Believe In Love]—-Beginning with an odd synth line that almost meows at you, the layers of sound are fantastic through the headphones. Phil lends his trademark baritone…but the tone just seems lighter and more accessible. The main melody line that pops up in the song will stay in our head and makes me want to pull out all of my old classic vinyl from the 80’s…just fantastic.

Open Your Heart—-Hands down…no argument, my favorite track ever from The Human League. The vocal is extraordinary, the slight out of tune delivery adds to the charm of the song. The energy of the synth line bends my heart into folds. The ladies add to the mix…but it is Oakey at his finest here. This is a classic track that never received the attention it deserved. This IS The Human League!!! You can’t ignore the fantastic synth lines and the jubilant feeling that it gives off…even if the song is not really a happy one……I just love this!

Don’t You Want Me—-Perhaps this song, above all others at the time, helped to define the 80’s synth and New Wave movement. The song still sounds fresh and appealing all of these years on….with a instrumental line that is contagious and ageless. This is the band at the peak of their career…when the cross over to the US was in full swing. A great, great song….but not the best the band ever released…..just the best known.

Mirror Man—-To say that expectations were high after the success of Dare would be an understatement. The band delivered above par music with the release of the follow up EP….short in content…but full of quality singles. The die hard fans snatched it up…..MTV followed it closely…but the band found it hard to keep its place after Don’t You Want Me….for me…the songs like this from that EP were better quality and stand the test of time even better.

You Remind Me Of Gold—-The synth lines of this track are so lively and jaunty…you can’t help but fall in love with it. Phil enters with his trademark baritone and the ladies join him and give the track the warm softer element that it needs. I love all the squeaky lines of the keyboards…this is fantastic…at times the song almost becomes noisy….fantastic.

[Keep FeelingFascination [Extended]—-A shining moment in the bands career for sure. I have some remix versions of this song, where the bass level was so intense the speakers almost shut it out altogether. This is as contagious and catchy as anything the band has ever done. The opening synth lines that mimic Church organs open up to hat huge thumping bass line and the swirls of synth in the background that sneak up on you. The vocals are exquisite…the melody line….unforgettable. This is wonderful. Phil ups his vocal…the overdubs are incredible. Just a fantastic track.

The Lebanon [7″ Version]—-Politically charged at the time and very timely. This track carries a sadness to it….even though the music tries to override that sentiment. The lyrics at the time were very appropriate and could apply to anywhere in the world in this day and age that we live in. This is a pretty intense song when you listen to all the words…but loses some of the power because it is so damn pleasant.

Louise [DJ Edit]—-I really love this song…..being one of those people involved with someone from very far in my past…the song touches me…because real life reunions like this are very possible. The deep tone of the vocal is remarkable….and the combination of all the voices at certain times and certain words give the song a remarkable contagious and romantic feel. This is just a wonderful reminder that anything is possible.

Disc Two—-

Life On Your Own [Single Version]—-This is phenomenal…..the deep bass that propels that song..perfectly matched with the higher tones of the synth line. A slight odd song lies underneath of the whole thing…giving the song a weird flavor that finds a place in my heart. Phil delivers the chorus in his upper register that takes this song to a whole new level. This is just incredible…so nice to hear again.

Human [Extended Version]—-A song that really gave The Human League a second life in the mainstream listening community. Not a favorite track of mine, but it still plays very well today and catches the band at another creative high. The synth line and the bass deliver an unforgettable melody that still manages to pop up in my memory listening bank from time to time….funny….I have a 45 pressing of this song.

I Need Your Loving [DJ Edit]—-Noisy and less melodic, it appears The Human League thought they could copy Prince and deliver a funk fueled dance floor track that really falls flat for me. This is lackluster and the band sounds incredibly bored to me. This did not age well…it plays no better today than it did upon release. I really have disdain for this…..ugh!

Love Is All That Matters [DJ Edit]—-Returning to a more accessible sound somewhat with this single, the funky overtones are still evident. The melody of the song…provided by the ladies voices really give the track the familiar and friendly sound that we are accustomed to. Phil sounds a bit bored with the entire affair…so I still affirm that the main melody and success of this track was the responsibility f the girls….and they deliver very well.

Heart Like A Wheel [William Orbit Remix]—-Helping to add to the nine lives theory, this track helped to bring attention back to a foundering band that needed a new listening base. This is jaunty, happy and full of energy. The synth line is playful and full of energy. The combination of the voices throughout the entire song help to make it sound fresh and invigorating. This is a wonderful track….fantastic!

Soundtrack To A Generation [Edit]—-Odd at the onset, the jaunty almost New Order like synth line takes the song to a nice place. Phil delivers a vocal that sounds a bit strained and forced…..really not the best the band had to offer, I could think of a few other songs that could have taken this ones place. The shout B-52’s like delivery is not the band that we love…this is a waste really.

Tell Me When [Edit/Remastered 2003 ]—-This is a slick return to the shiny and accessible pop lines that the band did the best with. Phil sounds re-invigorated and the ladies are present as always. The pace of the song hearkens back to the early days of the band…this is driving and forceful…but melodic and damn catchy at the same time. The chorus of the song is the key…and it stands the test of time very well. This is wonderful.

One Man In My Heart—-This is fantastic….letting the ladies really have a spotlight on the trademark and necessary vocals that made this band huge. The melody line that runs through this song are almost Do-Wop inspired and make you feel a happiness that you can’t explain. Although Phil does add vocals…this track belongs to the ladies and they shine like an indelible star!

Filling Up With Heaven—-Not sure how I really feel about this song…..at the time of recording, technology was/is so advanced but it seems like the band is still using the same Korg’s and Moog’s that they always used. All of the mass vocals on the chorus are confusing and disjointed and the higher tone keyboards are awful. This just sounds uninspired.

Stay With Me Tonight—-Propulsive synth lines send this moving at a nice pace…then the vocal hits you . At the beginning, Phil barely sounds like himself….but the familiarity emerges. To me, this song is the complete opposite of the last entry…there is so much technology going on that it threatens to drown the band and the necessity of their voices. This is unorganized and messy.

All I Ever Wanted [Radio Edit]—-Not sure why this is here at the end of the release…perhaps a re-issue was in order for the anniversary of the band. This is classic in sound…the deep wavy bass synth is wonderful. The ladies add to the dissonant vocal from Phil…when he breaks into the higher tones it is much warmer and approachable. Nice…but why? Oh…this was from 2001……joke!

Night People [2016 Edit]—-I love this track…this is such a fun and jaunty track. The synth lines are contagious as hell….the vocal is full of echoes and memories of the old days if you will. This is just fantastic…reminding me of the material from Fascination. I love the energy, the sentiment and the mood.

Never Let Me Go—-This is the sound again of a re-invigorated band. he deep deep bass that runs through the underbelly of the song is just fantastic. The ladies lend a vocal line that sticks in your cerebellum…refusing to let go for hours after a listen. This is melodic…huge and driving. I love this…there is just life after life for this band.

Sky [Radio Edit]—-The latest proper new release from the band, this is deep and intense. The melody line that runs through the track is classic and wonderful. I like the combination of the voices and the slight overlays from Phil. This is nice…not the best of the band…but a damn valiant effort showing us that this band is still alive and well. Very Nice!

**** out of 5

 

 

 

 

Green Day / Revolution Radio

Revolution Radio

Revolution Radio is the twelfth studio album by American punk rock band Green Day, released on October 7, 2016, through Reprise Records. The album’s lead single, “Bang Bang“, premiered on August 11, 2016. Prior to the album’s release, its title track, “Revolution Radio”, and “Still Breathing” were also released, on September 9 and September 23, respectively. At the album’s release date, the official lyric video for “Youngblood” was uploaded on their website. On October 12, a lyric video for the song “Ordinary World” was released. On October 19, another lyric video was released: the song “Say Goodbye”. On November 7, a music video was released for “Still Breathing“.

It is Green Day’s first album since 21st Century Breakdown (2009) to be recorded as a trio after Jason White returned to being a touring member in 2016.

The album received positive reviews from music critics and earned 95,000 first-week album-equivalent units in the US to debut at number one on the Billboard 200. Revolution Radio also debuted at number one in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Canada and New Zealand.

The Analysis—-

Somewhere Now—-Kicking things off a bit introspective and insightful, Billie still has that classic young guy whine. The song picks up main stream with a melodic blast of guitars and huge drums…all the while keeping the underlying tone of complacency running through it. This is powerful…catchy and damn welcome.

Bang Bang—-Much more aggressive right out of the gate, the fuzzy guitars are replaced by a lightening speed that welcomes back the huge glory days of Green Day. Billie Joe snarls attitude and disdain and the chorus….well….built for arena shows and a maddening crowd of chants and screams. This is so amped and addictive…the best the band has sounded in years! The drums are incredible!!!

Revolution Radio—-Huge blasts of attitude driven guitars and quick drums kick off this modern day anthems that we are treated to here. The vocal seems a bit pushed away from the music a bit…but the chorus….damn. This is a huge sing a long affair that makes me miss The Ramones. This is catchy yet still maintains attitude and snarl. This is damn catchy!

Say Goodbye—-With a marching anthem tone at the onset, the song maintains the feeling throughout. Building on the tone, Billie Joe delivers a vocal that is more melodic and sing songy from the onset. For me, this has a deeper sound to the music….the bass drum much more pronounced and the huge anthem like chorus built for arenas and huge crowds. This will play really well live….I think I hear some piano here…which surprised me a bit.

Outlaws—-Full of atmosphere and an introspective attitude, this is a nice break in the order of the songs of the release. This is built on a huge chorus that begs you to scream along with it as it plays at full volume. For those who grew up with the band…this is a further step to adulthood and the changing times….which we can all embrace…regardless of our age.This track is a favorite…..brilliant!!!

Bouncing Off The Wall—-Kicking everything back into high gear, this is a modern day anthem that makes me want to jump p and just go crazy. The energy in the music is damn contagious and the vocal snarl is evident of a much younger and driven band. This is when Green Day is at their very best…when they combine hyper music with a teenage vocal that inspires kids of all ages….just fantastic!

Still Breathing—-Beginning with a simple guitar and a vocal, this track is another favorite of mine. The attitude is very evident…but the damn catchy melody overrides and makes you wander back into your youth. This is literally fantastic…..the band seems so invigorated and fresh on this release….I love this song!

Youngblood—-A jaunty guitar at the onset gives way to a more aggressive sound that ebbs and flows with the lines and the chorus. Billie Joe sounds so good on this release…his phrasing and wording is just like the older, glory days of the band…this helps to erase the disaster of the Trilogy release….this is classic Green Day….this track…..superb…full of fuzz….great drums and a vocal for the ages!

Too Dumb To Die—-Odd at the onset…everything is muted and removed from the speakers…..then the song opens up…bringing vitality and energy. The youthful feel of the music and the lyrics can put you in just about anyplace that you desire to be. The melody that Armstrong delivers with his vocal is just fantastic…this is aggressive but delivered with a message.

Troubled Times—-Although the guitar is very present at the onset, the vocal is removed until the actual chorus opens up the song with a message and an urgency to pay attention to the world around you. Armstrong delivers line after line that carries weight……because indeed…we live in troubled times…here and abroad…the message is delivered loud and clear.

Forever Now—-Coming at you with an aggressive driving guitar base, the drums are huge on this track…leading you a a few minute voyage that contains every best element of Green day….huge chorus, classic vocal, driving guitars and a drum that wont leave your head. This is rebirth at its finest!

Ordinary World—-Beginning with an ending…hmmmm. Interesting This is calm and select…..quiet with an introspection that belies adulthood and the ability to think about that which is happening around you. Green Day remains a very, very relevant band in 2016…I’m glad they weathered the storm and emerged so strong…this is fantastic….don’t make us wait so long again…please. You are needed.

****3/4 out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

Gary Numan / Here In The Black- Live At Hollywood Forever Cemetery 2016

Everything Comes Down to This (Live at Hollywood Forever Cemetery)

Gary Anthony James Webb (born 8 March 1958), better known as Gary Numan, is an English singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. Born in Hammersmith, London, he first entered the music industry as the lead singer of the new wave band Tubeway Army. After releasing two albums with the band, Numan released his debut solo album The Pleasure Principle in 1979.

Most widely known for his chart-topping hits “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” and “Cars“, Numan achieved his peak of mainstream popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but maintains a loyal cult following. His signature sound consists of heavy synthesizer hooks fed through guitar effects pedals, and he is considered a pioneer of commercial electronic music.

The Analysis—-

I Am Dust—-To have the chance to see Numan live is a pure joy and indescribable experience. On the stage, Numan sheds his Asperger’s and becomes a type of human monster…flailing around on the stage and delivering his darkest sounds possible thanks to new technology and mastery of years of experience. This release, recorded on Halloween, wrapped up the US jaunt of his Here In The Black tour…..it is fitting we begin with this track off Splinter. The crowd is jubilant, and the sound is impeccable…you catch every groan from the synth lines and every nuance that was captured in the studio. Numan sounds literally possessed by the music…..making you feel ice cold and incredibly excited at the same time. This is exquisite.

Metal—-A constant track in Numan’s live shows, this goes way back to the early days of his career. The amped up version plays so well live…you could never tell the date or the age of the song. The guitars are aggressive while still maintaining the irresistible synth line of the original. Numan delivers his trademark whine of a singing voice that brings a smile to my face no matter how many times I hear this.

Everything Comes Down To This—-My favorite track from the Splinter release, I was super excited to see that this was included in the live set. This is not a happy song…I think there were some problems going on during the recording of Splinter with his marriage. But live this is even more intense and devastating. The groans and effects that come from the synths are just amazing….the huge guitar burst make the song a huge masculine love song…Numan pleads for forgiveness and second chances. This is just fantastic.

The Fall—-A huge guitar intro brings out the crashing synth line and beefs up this track like you can’t believe. The aggressive Industrial style keyboards are better than Trent has managed in years. Numan enters with his ghost like vocal and the song settles into a damn catchy melodic affair. This is triumphant. I never gelled with the Jagged CD…but this track is awesome.

Here In The Black—-One of the most mysterious and majestic songs Numan has recorded in recent history, the escalating synth line drives the song and the crowd to near mania. The whispered delivery of the vocal is full of echo’s and a built in atmosphere all of its own. This is just brilliant….it plays so well live….that synth line is to die for.

Films—-Stepping way back in the Numan catalog, films is another track that always lands on my favorites list….along with M.E. The vocal delivery is what makes this song so fantastic….Numan’s whine and the updated synth lines making the song even more powerful. I guess you can tell….I love this man.The original feel of the song is firmly intact…but the added crash of the synths provide an update that makes it even more powerful.

The Calling—-Slowing down the tempo provides a bit of a cool down for the crowd and Numan delivers this incredibly dark rack with mastery. His vocal is so clear and powerful…rising over all of the effects to allow you to feel the loneliness…the despair and the pain. the stage literally swells with emotion as the song progresses…your headphones will literally sob with this delivery. A master!!!

Down In The Park—-It is hard to breathe new life into such an aged track that has been played literally thousands of times. It is always nice to hear this again…but due to overplay it looses some of the shine for me. Consider the age of the track and the story it told way back when, it is phenomenal it still plays so well. A true classic.

Splinter—-The slow and almost maddening build up to this track fills you with anticipation. the sound of this is odd…lots of chants going on in the backdrop of the song and a slight Oriental feel to the music. Numan turns towards his disdain for God for the basis of this song…it plays well and sounds incredibly fresh. The instrumentation that the live band brings to these songs are just incredible…..a fantastic dense depressing track.

Dead Son Rising—-Beginning with a higher tones synth line and a clear and distortion free vocal, Numan delivers this mundane track with a new and fresh approach live. I love this version….the mystery of the track seems to swirl around the stage as the synth becomes almost maddening with repetition. I like this…but sometimes skip over this during casual listening.

A Shadow Falls—-Returning to the deeper synth line, the surprise is when Numan opens his mouth and sings a note which you seldom hear. I am accustomed to the deeper baritone of his voice and to hear him stretch to catch these notes are mesmerizing. This is slow…melodic and full of intensity. Just about perfect.

Lost—-Quiet and introspective, I think this further solidifies the assumption of some personal problems going on in recent years with Gary and Gemma. This is so sad, touching and personal…I can’t imagine what it must be like to play this live and on display for everyone to hear and share. This is phenomenal….getting this piece of him seems like a treasure. The huge burst of energy at the end of the song further cements the urgency and the plea……just incredible.

When The Sky Bleeds—-This is not a favorite track of mine…but the melody line of the song is impossible to ignore. Numan delivers a vocal that is clear and soaring…begging for a reason to continue with life and needing hope. The aggression kicks in and then ebbs….causing you to almost sit on the edge of your seat the entire song. A masterful delivery.

Unforgiven—-Powerful guitars soar above the multi layered synth lines and give this an almost soundtrack feel. Numan enters with his plaintive and begging vocal that makes you pay attention to every single word that is uttered from his psyche. This is intense….dark and driving. A masterpiece of a song that plays better live then on record.

Love Hurt Bleed—-Another track from Splinter that is in the vein of driving NIN synth  lines and Industrial style rock. Numan fits in perfect….delivering his vocal between aggressive bursts of music…this has such a huge backbone…..and the recent trademark Numan sound is all over this track. A masterpiece.

A Prayer For The Unborn—-Sad and introspective with a horn effected synth line, the slight crunches from the other keyboards provide a stark landscape of music for Numan to muse over. This is intense….it has always touched me and made me somewhat sad. That Numan is willing to share such personal moments from his life seem like a privilege to me. This will always remain a favorite track of mine.

Cars—-Over thirty years on, and with major reworking, this track still plays well live. I can’t imagine how sick Numan must be of this song…but he delivers it like it was the first time he has ever preformed it. This is a classic…defining the 80’s….reworked and defining the new Numan generation.

I Die; You Die—-Delving way back in time once again, Numan again manages to stay true to a generation that adored him and still deliver to the generation that view him as a modern God. This has all the trademark synth lines of the original recording…but the huge driving drums add beef and masculinity Numan sounds in such clear voice…you can’t help but pull out old records and give them a re-listen.

Are ‘friends’ Electric?—-One of, if not the oldest track in this song list, this is essential Numan. The song still carries the same alienated feeling and the mastery of the emerging synth machines at the time…but are beefier and so much larger. This is a classic track….I can never tire of this ever……Numan does a great job re-working this.

My Last Day—-Ending this phenomenal show, Numan allows for a slower and darker tense track to say goodbye. This is a gentle ode to his children and perhaps to his fans as well. This is momentous and brilliant. Tender and leaving you walking to your transport shaking your head and whispering to yourself that you have viewed a God in his element.

***** out of 5

 

The Other Two / The Other Two & You

The Other Two & You

The Other Two are an English dance act consisting of Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert of New Order. The band name refers to the fact that the other New Order members, Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook, had already embarked on side projects by the time the first The Other Two record was released. Their debut single “Tasty Fish” was released in 1991 and peaked at 41 in the UK Singles Chart.

The Analysis—-

Tasty Fish—-To say that this has a trademark sound, would be understated. Of course you would have to recognize the synth and drum lines that are all over this release. The wonderful thing about this is the breezy and shiny vocal…the mood is up-tempo…..bright and makes you smile inwardly all the while recognizing certain unmistakable sounds and rhythms. I wish this would have garnered more attention….this is wonderful.

The Greatest Thing—-Deeper techno styled bass begins this track…even the vocal seems a bit darker. The syrup sweet sound of the previous track is missing…but the atmospheric float is very intact. This is not a particularly happy song…and  its curious how Gillian uses the she and her pronoun during this track. Dark and moody…but atmospheric and ethereal as well.

Selfish—-To me, this is the centerpiece of this release. This is bright, shiny and damn near perfect pop music. The remixes for this are incredible and I still listen to this at parties and have people question me as to who this great band is. The vocal is crisp, shiny…happy and bouncy. This is damn near perfect in my book. This is very New Order inspired but unique and individual at the same time. Incredible.

Movin’ On—-Bright and wispy keyboards enter with a de-escalating synth line that seems to propel the song. The double tracked vocal seems a bit removed from the mix of the song….sounding pushed to the back and less bright…but the sweet delivery that it conjures is undeniably addictive. I love this album!

Ninth Configuration—- With a string inspired synth line, the intro to the track is a bit slow but finally opens up with a more urgent bass line that almost propels the track. This has an addictive quality to it….making me want to listen over and over. The track has nice New Order inspired breaks in the lines that build and build. This is exquisite…the blips and beeps keeping everything interesting and moving along nicely. I adore this!

Feel This Love—-Returning to that nice bright and happy sound, Gillian has a voice that is impossible not to love. The keyboard sounds are familiar enough to make you love this band because of who they are and fresh enough to give you a whole other band to love outside of NO. The piano lines are fantastic and the swirls make you want to dance and say Fuck It!

Spirit Level—-Textured with a deeper synth line and nice blip effects, this wraps itself around your head and makes you want to fall into a hands in your pockets trance dance on the floor all by yourself. The bright keyboard lines that emerge give the song a nice warmth that keeps everything interesting despite the lack of a true vocal line. This is wonderfully addictive.

Night Voice—-Beginning dark and dense, the effects fly all over in my headphones. The song has a deep low, dark hum that is accented by wisps of backdrop voices sounding from outer space. This is more experimental and not really a favorite of mine…but it does show diversity and depth to the creative force of these two.

Innocence—-Returning to the brighter sounds of previous tracks, Gillian just seems to have that kind of voice. This is boppy and sunny….moving along at a nice pace and adding to the element with synth swirls that bring about sunshine and a smile. This is not an entirely happy song…but the delivery keeps you upbeat and pleased.

Loved It [The Other Track]—-This is a long drawn out affair of synth lines that are almost electro inspired in their jaunty delivery. The vocals are interspersed with all kinds of breaks and blips…not a bad song…but a bit of filler to me.

**** out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blink -182 / California

California

California is the seventh studio album by American rock band Blink-182, released on July 1, 2016 through BMG. Produced by John Feldmann, it is the first album by the band to feature vocalist/guitarist Matt Skiba, who replaced former member Tom DeLonge. After touring and releasing the band’s sixth album Neighborhoods (2011), it became difficult for the trio to record new material, due to DeLonge’s various projects. After disagreements, the remaining members of the group—vocalist/bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker—sought separation from DeLonge and recruited Skiba, best known as the frontman of rock band Alkaline Trio, in his place.

The album was recorded at Foxy Studios between January and March 2016 with Feldmann. He was the group’s first new producer since longtime collaborator Jerry Finn. Prior to his involvement, the trio began writing together in September 2015 and completed dozens of songs. They decided to shelve them upon working with Feldmann to start fresh, and they proceeded to record another 28 songs; in all, the group recorded upwards of 50. The band, as well as Feldmann, would regularly spend 18 hours in the studio a day, aiming to start and complete multiple songs in that timeframe. The album’s title comes from the band’s home state of California, and its artwork was illustrated by the street artist D*Face.

The album debuted at number one in the US and several other countries, and was the group’s first domestic chart-topper in 15 years, and their first ever in the UK. In addition, its lead single, “Bored to Death“, became the group’s first number one single on any chart in a decade. California received mostly positive reviews from music critics, who complimented its throwback sound. The band have supported the album with a large headlining tour in North America and Europe alongside A Day to Remember, the All-American Rejects, and All Time Low.

The Analysis—-

Cynical—-I really was a bit apprehensive as to my expectations upon this release…but my fears have been quickly quashed at the first listen. This is melodic, contagious and seems like the same band that was always there. The vocal difference is only slightly different….but the mood and the power are the same as always…a fantastic way to kick off the release. Wonder what this song is about….hmmm?

Bored To Death—-The lead off single to this release, you notice the sound is not that different than Tom and Angel And Airwaves. The mood is pensive…layered and textured. The vocal is just outstanding…this is the blink I love. The contagious quality of the song is undeniable. This is superb. Powerful….melodic and intense.

She’s Out Of Her Mind—-A really nice bass line leads off the track but the vocal emerges sounding bright and melodic. I love the catchiness of every song….the pace is a bit slower…but the power from this trio is so damn infectious. This song has a bright, sunny feel to it that makes me long for warm sunny days and carefree afternoons just blasting music. Damn good!

Los Angeles—-With a slight jangly intro, the vocal comes at you from all directions…causing me some ear confusion. The chorus is of course a powerful and catchy affair….sucking you into the melody of the song. I just am not really crazy for the dual vocals that come from all directions….the song seems a bit confusing to me. Not a throwaway by any means though. The bridge is awesome!!!

Sober—-A huge drum introduces the song and the vocal reminds me of the old days…with lots of ‘uh’s’ and ‘nah nah’s’. The vocal is great….the chorus a huge sing a long affair that arenas will scream loud and clear back to the band. This is really nice….I like the new vocal direction…the whine has left the building.

Built This Pool—-Aggressive and fast from the onset…..this interlude is rather silly an unnecessary……onward…..

No Future—-Scaled down and a bit morose with Travis delivering a rather monotonous vocal at the onset, the chorus opens up the song and the vocal trade-off of vocals make the song sound huge and arena made. This is nice…but the sound seems a little thin….until the chorus and of course Travis…who continues to beat the hell out of his drums.Such a huge sing a long chorus!!!

Home Is Such A Lonely Place—-Slowing things way down and injecting a lot of atmosphere, this is damn catchy and touching. I love the slower version of this band when it is put in the right spot….adding some variety on the record and breaking it up a bit. I always say…song placement is everything. To me this is about perfect. I love the dual vocal…adding texture and a built in melody. Fantastic.

King Of The Weekend—-Big trademark drums and a introduction vocal from Matt builds the song up to a huge fast chorus that is punk infused with just enough of a pop element to appeal to everyone. Matt is a great vocal replacement….it seems hard to imagine Tom singing these songs…..this is catchy and damn infectious.

Teenage Satellites—-Powerful guitars yet a subtle melancholy vocal here…..then the chorus hits you with that undeniable Blink melody that begs for a DeLonge whine…lol. This is fantastic….a certain sunny element that makes you want to pull out all the old records and give them all a listen one after the other. Just a great song that conjures up many memories from its sound alone.

Left Alone—-A bit atmospheric at the onset, the bass guitar and drums lead off the song…and again, we are a bit confused by the sound of the song. The vocal seems confused to me…even the chorus…which is damn contagious seems a little under-whelming. I don’t hate this…but the mood of the song just seems very different.

Rabbit Hole—-Returning to a more hyper kinetic version of the band, this song has a great pace and delivery. The energy is amped all the way up and the drums control the entire pace of everything. There are some nice guitar squeals and a vocal trade off that really works here. This is classic stuff….fast…melodic and bright!

San Diego—-A nice jangly guitar introduces another slowed down track……the vocal a bit sad and mellow…until Matt enters and seems to magically amp up the song. This is another of those damn catchy arena ready songs that begs the audience to participate. I love the direction of the band….sounding fresh and re-invigorated but still maintain a true sound that they almost established for so many other bands.

The Only Thing That Matters—-A nice bass line opens the track and then Travis emerges with his hyper drums and takes the song off on a rip. The vocals are nice but a bit disjointed…the lyrics are great…lots of euphemisms. The band sounds so tight and rehearsed…..I really love this record!!!

California—-A lonely and introspective vocal begins the track….with swirls of music and an obvious lack of drums leave the song a bit empty for me. The mood is a bit dark and intense…the references on this record are remarkable….The Cure….wearing black…Marilyn Manson…etc….this is great.

Bohemian Rhapsody—-Odd……ok……whatever.

****3/4 out of 5