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

 

 

 

 

David Archuleta / The Other Side Of Down

The Other Side Of Down

David James Archuleta (born December 28, 1990) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and actor. At ten years old, he won the children’s division of the Utah Talent Competition leading to other television singing appearances. When he was twelve years old, Archuleta became the Junior Vocal Champion on Star Search 2. In 2007, at sixteen years old, he became one of the youngest contestants on the seventh season of American Idol. In May 2008 he finished as the runner-up, receiving 44 percent of over 97 million votes.

In August 2008 Archuleta released “Crush“, the first single from his self-titled debut albumThe album, released three months later, debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart; it has sold over 750,000 copies in the U.S., and over 900,000 worldwide. In October 2010 he released a third album, The Other Side of Down, featuring lead single “Something ‘Bout Love“. On March 28, 2012, Archuleta left on a two-year hiatus to be a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chile, but stated that he will continue his music career after that.[14][15] As of February 2012, Archuleta has sold 1,108,000 albums and 3,327,000 tracks in the United States.

In March 2012, Archuleta released his fourth album, Forevermore, exclusively in the Philippines. This was his first Original Pilipino Music album, composed of several covers of Filipino songs. The album was certified gold in the Philippines (10,000 units) as of June 2012. Archuleta’s fifth album, Begin, was released on August 7, 2012, in the United States. His sixth album, No Matter How Far, was released on March 26, 2013.

The Analysis—-

The Other Side Of Down—-There is something about the purity of Archuletas’ voice, combined with the syrupy pop perfection that is contained on his releases that attracts me. I love the smooth delivery…the ‘heart on my sleeve’ type of music that he delivers…combined with vocal overlays and a stellar production team…it becomes rather addictive.

Something ‘Bout Love—-Right from the very first note, you can tell this is one of those perfect recipe songs that deliver all the ingredients required to stay in your head for days and days…even if you hate it!. The chorus of this track is pure pop perfection…..containing the melody and the lyric that digs in and refuses to let go. For me, as far as pop music goes…this might be as perfect as it gets.

Elevator—-With a magical guitar intro, the voice enters with a remarkable purity and lyrics that are relate able and catchy. You can catch every word and then you are smacked in the face with the chorus that again threatens to take over your brain…waking you up in the middle of the night playing to loud in your brain. There is no denying the genius of this writing team….this guy has a perfect relationship with pop music.

Stomping The Roses—-Brilliant instrumentation that never really seems to require an actual band, this wraps itself around you and threatens to strangle your sensibilities. The strong message of empowerment is remarkable…Archuleta still delivers that boyish charm of a vocal…appearing so pure and naive. The appeal is undeniable.

Who Am I—-Although this stays in the same vein, the track still has a magical quality. David rarely veers away from the recipe that has made him successful…..meaningful lyrics and a powerhouse chorus that threatens to explode your brain. There is not a ton of substance….but there is talent…and that is important also.

Falling Stars—-Gentle and remarkably poignant, David delivers a vocal the emits emotion without even trying…he just has that talent. The breaths in between words and the falsetto words….overlay ed with double track voice makes for a huge full song. As the track opens up in the second bar…it still maintains the magic melancholy that started it all. It just all seems so damn genuine.

Parachutes And Airplanes—-Sounding as if I have heard this before at the onset, the appeal is still very present. The pure pop perfection of the music is what sucks me in and chose to review it in the first place. The mastery of the world of music production and image is a remarkable thing…add in Marketing and you have the true genius of the career of this guy. This is a wonderful journey of pop mastery.

Look Around—-For me, one of the weaker tracks on the release, I still zero in on certain aspects of the song. The overlay ed melodic vocal…the huge chorus….the simple melody and the hook that stays with you. Even at weak the song is still strong. The lyrical content…a bit juvenile…but still reeks of human emotion.

Good Place—-A perfect ballad that seems to musically wrap itself around David’s voice, the production is incredible. All of the vocal overlays makes me think how hard it must be to make a record like this…he has to record each overlay right? And then it is all played on a backtrack. This is remarkable perfect production.

Complain—-Although this track offers little new…it is the consistency that is remarkable. I love the hook of the song….with an almost underlying Country feel to the whole thing. The vocal is so pure and un-adulterated. Production tricks are not required for this…because the voice is as perfect as it sounds. Just remarkable.

Things Are Gonna Get Better—-This really did nothing for me….the music is a little weak and falls flat on my ears. But of course you have the magical chorus that again tries to FORCE you to love the song. This is not a throwaway……but not something you would listen to on a regular basis.

My Kind Of Perfect—-Ending the release with a track that moves the vocal to the very front of the mix, this shows the purity of the whole damn thing. This is simple and pure….which is what makes it so damn nice. I need to get the newer releases…..I still love that voice.

***** out of 5

 

Pet Shop Boys / Fundamental: Further Listening 2005-2007 [2017 Remastered Version]

Fundamental: Further Listening 2005 - 2007 (2017 Remastered Version)

Fundamental is the ninth studio album by English synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys. It was released in May 2006 in the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan and Canada. It was released in late June 2006 in the United States. The album entered the UK Albums Chart at number five on 28 May 2006 (see 2006 in British music). In the US the album peaked at #150 selling 7,500 copies in its first week. As of April 2009 it had sold 46,000 copies in the US and 66,000 copies in the UK. Fundamental earned two Grammy nominations at the 2007 Grammy Awards for Best Dance/Electronic Album and Best Dance Recording with “I’m with Stupid”.

The album was produced by the Pet Shop Boys and Trevor Horn and it features eleven new Pet Shop Boys compositions, and “Numb”, written by Diane Warren (Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe originally planned to have “Numb” be one of two new tracks on PopArt, but opted instead for “Miracles” and “Flamboyant”).

The liner notes show that the album is dedicated to two executed Iranian gay teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, who were hanged on 19 July 2005. Some reports have suggested the two may have been executed for engaging in homosexual behaviour, though the official Iranian report was that they were hanged for raping a 13-year-old boy. The album was very well received by critics, some considering it to be their best album since Very, but its sales failed to improve much on the sales of their last two albums.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

Psychological—-Of course, any fan can tell you that there is never a doubt when you hear the opening strains to a PSB track who they are….this is no exception. Lowe has his trademark sound and the vocal of Tennant can never be confused with anyone except perhaps Al Stewart. This track is magnificent….dark..and with a layer of eerie warning to it almost. But the brightness is there as well. This is wonderful.

The Sodom And Gomorrah Show—-Beginning a bit mundane, this track explodes into a huge stomper that sucks you in and encourages you to dance your ass off. The progression of the keyboard is remarkable…and the voice from Neil never seems to age. This is huge…an over-whelming chorus that elicits joy and wild abandon. A classic PSB track.

 

I Made My Excuses And Left—-Underneath all of the synth, the glam and the joyous dancing, there is always a sadness that lies underneath of the brilliance of PSB. For me…this brings it a bit more to the forefront. Neil delivers a vocal that gives me goosebumps…even still today. This has an intense lyrical line….a poignant and sad synth base….all adding up to an unforgettable journey of introspection. This is brilliant!!!

Minimal—-One of my favorite tracks on this release. I even have a software embeded single that allows you to make your own version of the song. I love the energy…the remarkable ability to match all the letters with the beats…lol. The message of the song…and the brilliant vocal…this is a standout. Such a joyful synth line.

Numb—-Penned by the famed Diane Warren, this was a perfect match for the brilliance of The Boys. This is so sad…intense…but has a joy to it I can’t explain. The huge orchestrated intro is just fantastic…..seemingly to be built around the vocal that Tennant would produce for the song. The gentle piano….not overdone…but present…adds to the sadness of the song. This is a magical moment for me in the career of The Boys….just as good if not better than October Symphony.

God Willing—-With that brilliant flowing synth line that just seems to meld right around Neil’s vocal cords, this is another song that literally defines the band, Rarely on any disc is there a single throw away track….although not lauded…..this track is phenomenal. The energy flows throughout the whole song….this is like a song from a huge soundtrack.

Luna Park—-Sounding to me, like a continuation of Numb, this is another one of those tracks that will make you sit back and reflect. The bass heavy synth line is missing…but the keyboard Orchestration guides you through the line after line of intense lyric. This is beautiful and brilliant.

I’m With Stupid—-The context of the song rumored to be about George W. and Tony Blair, you have to…at this point sit back and laugh at the British-ness of it all. Delivered with the same irony you would expect from Morrissey, this was wonderfully brilliant…still makes me chuckle.

Casanova In Hell—-Again….full of irony and classic British humor, I love this track…although I much prefer the live version on Concrete with Rupert Wainwright…..I still look back on this with fondness…just because it is so funny and so damn true!

Twentieth Century—-Returning to the classic sometimes creaking synth line of Lowe, Neil always seems to find a perfect balance for his sardonic lyric wrapped around the swirls of synths that Chris can’t help but provide. These two are a match made in heaven…this is sheer brilliance.

Indefinite Leave To Remain—-Another track that is maybe…provided to allow you another chance to look inside yourself and determine if everything is as it should be. This is a truly brilliant track….the songwriting…combined with the instrumentation…just reminds me what an unstoppable force these two are.

Integral—-An incredibly dark and timely song set to brilliant bright synth lines…just shows the contradiction of the band. Brilliant! Speaking….in my opinion of the nefarious actions that the Internet can bring…this is a very nice warning to the masses. A nice spoken word chorus that reminds me of Parinaro….this is just brilliant!

Disc Two:

Fugitive [Richard X Remix]—-I will never understand why this song was not issued on the original release or why it was not released as a single. The hyper-kinetic synth lines are fucking brilliant…everything about this track literally embodies the career of a band that has worked so hard. This is worth far ore than a B-side or casual listen…this is pure genius!

Ring Road [Demo]—-Almost an odd type of intro…the synth is almost noisy….but opens up a bit. the weird stringy style 80’s synth line does not gel with me. The bass overtakes things but Neil delivers a vocal that seems pushed to the back a bit. This is nice to own…but will never be a favorite!

The Performance Of My Life [Demo]—-Again, at the onset…I don’t gel with the off synth line…but Neil enters with a magical dead pan vocal that takes you on a magical journey. This develops a melody that is so addictive to me..it belongs on a proper release as well. This is a magical moment…I would love to see how something like this comes together between the two of them.

One-Way Street [Demo]—-Brilliant…swirling synths from the very first note. Neil delivers a higher tone that still amazes me with the ease he performs. This has a low reverberation through the underbelly of the song that is key to the sound. The chorus part of the track will live in your brain for sometime…another brilliant effort.

Girls Don’t Cry—-This track has kicked around for some time. I still believe it belonged on a proper release as well. It must be hard to decide what tracks to ‘throw away’ from the structure of an actual release. The sound of the synth line is deep and dark…the vocal is magical and soars with a brilliance only Neil can deliver…this is fantastic.

The Resurrectionist—-Brilliant!!!! A true dance floor stomper that makes me want to get up and dance with abandon. The chorus is this gigantic huge affair that lifts even the lowest spirit This is brilliant….why is this not a single? People have no idea of the genius of this duo!! That synth melody line is brilliant!

The Sodom And Gomorrah Show [Demo]—-Quite a bit more stripped down and under developed, the basic idea of the song still shines through. I feel like this really does not offer that much new as to the development of the finalized song…really just filler to me…this is basically a more naked version of the final cut.

Dancing In The Dusk [Demo]—-A bit down-tempo….nut still magical. Anytime I get to hear a bit of an unheard track from the duo is for me an adventure and pleasure. Neil actually sings at times on this track…and the vocal overlays really don’t sound like a demo….this is nice.

After The Event—-An almost horror movie piano line introduces the song…with that trademark low hum in the background that seems to travel through every song. The ‘noise’ clears for the introduction of the vocal. The song is pleasant…the delivery is stellar…the lyrics are a story….the chorus is the KEY to the entire thing…..the huge sound of it sucks my brain right in. Another winner.

The Former Enfant Terrible—-This, for me , is very reminiscent of The Sound Of An Atom Splitting. I don’t think it really offers any thing new or interesting…I could do without this….but still it is The Boys.

No Times For Tears [Orchestral Mix]—-Beautifully constructed and delivered with a vocal that I will remember for quite sometime, this is a bit of a lackluster track for me…I will accept anything the band has to offer with little criticism…but this does fall a bit flat for me.

God Willing [Original Full-length Mix ]—-Very, very, very slow intro and beginning of the track. Eventually, the sun does seem to burst through the convoluted instrumentation and the track becomes a bit livelier…but it takes a very long, tedious time. This was terrible….

I’m With Stupid [PSB Ma[xi-Mix]—-A bit more energized with the requisite DJ break points throughout the song for even longer mixing, I do like this version. The instrumentation is lively and very 90’s in sound….as said before…there are nice mixing interludes but also a healthy dose of the original vocal…this works for me.

Answer The Phone [Ringtone]—–Ok…whatever…kind of humerous

Where Are You? [Ringtone]—-People pay for this right?

Water [Ringtone]—-Bizarre……not getting it….

Numb [Single Edit]—-Really…..these ‘edits’ don’t offer much new to the die hard fan. There is little unique about this version. The harmonies seem a bit more pronounced to me….but this is just wasted space to me….

One Night—-Really nice vocally…the irritating high pitch synth line that runs through the song graciously disappears as the beautifully constructed chorus pen up and then seems to re-appear…much to my chagrin. I like the song…but the instrumentation is obnoxious. The vocal is beautifully presented.

A Certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’—-Literally brilliant from the very first note, this takes me back to the glorious 90’s period when the Boys produced dance floor classic after dance floor classic. This is just wonderfully put together…the synth is magical and modernly retro….the vocal is classic…this is a wonderful track….also on the Winner CD 5.

Transfer [Visionaire Mix]—-This, for me, has a rather dark edge to it from the very first note. the synth delivered is a flat consistent feel that is not even interrupted by the entrance of the vocal. Some beats emerge…but this snip is sad.

Integral [PSB Perfect Immaculate 7″ Mix]—-Offering little new except an abbreviated version of a masterful track, I suppose it was included to fill space. This is nice….but still offers little new to what we already knew was genius.

Integral [PSB Perfect Immaculate Mix]—-Really a DJ mix of the song that includes lots of breaks and mixing opportunities, this is not much different than the original…although it is nice to own.

****3/4 out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Michel Jarre / Electronica 2: The Heart Of Noise

Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise

Jean-Michel André Jarre (pronounced: [ʒɑ̃ miʃɛl ɑ̃dʁe ʒaʁ], born 24 August 1948) is a French composer, performer, and record producer. He is a pioneer in the electronic, ambient, and new-age genres, and known as an organiser of outdoor spectacles of his music featuring lights, laser displays, and fireworks.

Jarre was raised in Lyon by his mother and grandparents, and trained on the piano. From an early age, he was introduced to a variety of art forms, including those of street performers, jazz musicians, and the artist Pierre Soulages. He played guitar in a band, but his musical style was perhaps most heavily influenced by Pierre Schaeffer, a pioneer of musique concrète at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales.

His first mainstream success was the 1976 album Oxygène. Recorded in a makeshift studio at his home, the album sold an estimated 12 million copies. Oxygène was followed in 1978 by Équinoxe, and in 1979, Jarre performed to a record-breaking audience of more than a million people at the Place de la Concorde, a record he has since broken three times. More albums were to follow, but his 1979 concert served as a blueprint for his future performances around the world. Several of his albums have been released to coincide with large-scale outdoor events, and he is now perhaps as well known as a performer as he is as a musician.

As of 2004, Jarre had sold an estimated 80 million albums. He was the first Western musician officially invited to perform in the People’s Republic of China, and holds the world record for the largest-ever audience at an outdoor event.

Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise is the eighteenth studio album of French electronic musician and composer Jean Michel Jarre, released on 6 May 2016 by Columbia Records. It is the second of a two-part album (the first being Electronica 1: The Time Machine) that is based around collaborations with other electronic musicians from a wide range of decades and styles.

Electronica 1 included artists such as Vince Clarke, Gesaffelstein, M83, Armin van Buuren, John Carpenter, 3D (of Massive Attack), Pete Townshend, Tangerine Dream, and others, while Electronica 2 includes collaborations with Pet Shop Boys, Rone, Julia Holter, Primal Scream, Gary Numan, Hans Zimmer, Edward Snowden, Peaches, Sébastien Tellier, The Orb, Siriusmo, Yello, Jeff Mills, Cyndi Lauper and Christophe. In all, the two-album collaboration has some 30 collaborators, and Jarre has described it as his “most ambitious project.”

The Analysis—-

The Heart Of Noise Pt. 1 featuring Rone—-At the onset, the sound of this recording is lush and deep. The synth lines literally wrap themselves around your body…often reminding me of later enigma recordings. The beautiful and unadorned synth line creates an almost visual landscape in your brain as you listen to the progression of the song…..beautifully constructed and delivered.

The Heart Of Noise Pt. 2 featuring Rone—-Continuing in the same vein, Pt. 2 delivers a bit more of a space filled experimentation that magically lulls you into your own thoughts and allows your brain to magically wander. There is a nice break when the rhythmic bass lines enters the song and allows it to become much bigger and ambient. This is truly brilliant!

Brick England featuring The Pet Shop Boys—-Fantastic…..that about sums this track up from the very first note. This is brilliant. Tenant delivers his distinctive trademark vocal and the synth line is right out of the Lowe playbook. The arrangement is lush and filled with that underlying sad hum found in most of The Boys recordings. This is classic electronica with a brilliant atmospheric twist I can’t seem to walk away from.

These Creatures featuring Julia Holter—-Wonderfully full of computerized synth bleeps and bursts of beautiful sounds, the vocal enters with a ghostly beautiful delivery that literally transports me somewhere else as I listen. Never overdone or overblown, this has the magical element of everything needed to create a masterpiece of a song. I love this vocal!!!

As One featuring Primal Scream—-Coming out of the calm like the opening credits to a masterful movie, this song is layered and textured with an ambiance that almost lulls you into a beautiful nothing. Then the strains from Primal Scream steer the song into an almost joyous romp that encourages you to shed inhibitions and dance like no one is looking. This is fantastic…..a step right back into 90’s Dance Floor masterpieces…..I’m in love!!!

Here For You featuring Gary Numan—-It is impossible for me to find the correct words for this track. How could it possibly go wrong….combing contemporary synth lines and the current direction of the Numan sound, this is a journey that encompasses everything wonderful and right in the world of music. This is simply brilliant….Numan sounds driven and haunted…..the music fits him perfectly. Just incredible! Numan sounds literally driven with emotion and the need to be there for someone……I love this!!!

Electrees featuring Hans Zimmer—-How could this brilliant pairing of two incredible talents possibly go wrong. This has wonderful stamped on it from the very first notes. Atmospheric and laden with dense beautiful sound effects, this takes me out of my very body every time I listen to it. Lush and wonderfully constructed…..this can make you happy as fuck or sleepy as hell…..wonderful!

Exit featuring Edward Snowden—-Perhaps the most interesting collaboration on this release, the music that is delivered here has the urgency that you would expect….making you lean forward on your chair as you are driven into the spy like element of the music. The Snowden vocal overlays are incredibly fascinating and a fantastic concept. This is yet another standout track…..I have to think Jarre is a pure genius.

What You Want featuring Peaches—- Combining a bass heavy sexy synth with the vocal of one of the ‘queens or sleaze’ is a magnificent journey though a trail of seductive vocals and electronics that seem to add to the sexy nature of the track….another brilliant collaboration…in both content and delivery.

Gisele featuring Sebastien Tellier—-Moving at an incredibly nice pace, the song has a Kraftwerk element for me….the feel of the mainstream type electronics are interspersed with a blip filled fun turn. The vocal enters and you are right back in the beginning era of electronica……filled with the best elements of Kraftwerk….with a modern contagious twist.

Switch On Leon featuring The Orb—-Bright and poppy with just the right elements of ambiance and experimentation, you would expect nothing less from this pairing. The effects and the heavy laden synth lines that combine background vocal effects and noises from all directions make you a little crazy……but it is incredible none the less.

Circus featuring Siriusmo—-Dense and epic in sound right from the onset, the music builds and builds and becomes a surprising romp through dance-land. This is full of jaunty dance synths and breaks in the music that keep you guessing where everything is going. Then a magical synth line enters and makes the track even larger….just fantastic.

Why This Why That And Why featuring Yello—-Beautifully constructed and filled with atmosphere, the vocal on this track reminds me so much of Leonard Cohen…..it just all comes together like a magnificent musical poem. I am in heaven with this experience…..I really need to investigate more of this man’s music…I am stunned by the beauty and genius of it all.

The Architect featuring Jeff Mills—-A bit eccentric and muted in delivery, it takes a bit for this song to take any shape or form. The bass keeps creeping on you…promising to explode but leaves me exhausted with the anticipation of joyous abandon. A weak track for me….but still nice.

Swipe To The Right featuring Cyndi Lauper —-Wonderfully full and energy filled from the first strains of the song, Lauper delivers a vocal that belies age and allows you to climb right back into the 80’s heyday. This is energy filled and upbeat with huge crashing synths and crashing timbres. Just fantastic….I am in love with this man. This is the best I have heard Cyndi sound since Bring Me To The Brink release.

Walking The Mile featuring Christope—-A bi dense and dark, the vocal enters and sounds muted and in a tunnel. The delivery is odd….trying to sound psychedelic over a rather bright synth line. Not a favorite…..but it seems to fit in the entire picture well.

Falling Down—-Filled with an undeniable melody line that runs underneath the synth line, the song is so well constructed and is contagious as hell. This has every right element included in it…you can’t escape the tune…it will live in your head…with a bit of throw back to the 80’s fun sound….but still modern, this is fantastic.

The Heart Of Noise [The Origin]—-A bit mundane and filled with much of the sound and melody we have heard thus far, it is a throwback to the opening strains of this release. I would have preferred another collab rather than a redux of something heard before. This is pleasant but tried.

Conquistador [JMJ RMX] featuring Gesaffelstein—-Nicely delivered with an urgent synth line, this song has a pace to it that begs you to pay attention. I like the higer pitched synth lines and the split second breaks that keep everything incredibly interesting before it all dives back into a bass heavy sea, Magnificent!

***** out of 5

 

 

Erasure / World Be Gone

World Be Gone

Erasure (/ˈrʒər/) are an English synthpop duo, consisting of singer and songwriter Andy Bell and songwriter and keyboardist Vince Clarke. They formed in London, and entered the music scene in 1985 with their debut single “Who Needs Love Like That“. Following the release of their fourth single “Sometimes“, the duo established itself on the UK Singles Chart and became one of the most successful artists of the late 1980s to mid-1990s.

From 1986 to 2007, Erasure achieved 24 consecutive Top 40 hits in the UK, while having three Top 20 hits in the US (on the Billboard Hot 100): “A Little Respect“, “Chains of Love“, and “Always“. By 2009, 34 of their 45 singles and EPs (of which 8 out of the 45 were not chart eligible in the UK) had made the UK Top 40, with 17 climbing into the Top 10. At the 1989 Brit Awards, Erasure won the Brit Award for Best British Group.

The duo are most popular in their native UK and mainland Europe (especially Germany, Denmark and Sweden) and also in South America (especially Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Peru). The band is also popular within the LGBT community, for whom the openly gay Bell has become a gay icon. To date, they have penned over 200 songs and have sold over 25 million albums worldwide.

World Be Gone is the seventeenth studio album by English synthpop duo Erasure. The album was released through Mute Records on 19 May 2017 in the UK, and 20 May 2017 in North America.

The Analysis—-

Love You To The Sky—-With a nice pulsating bass synth line to introduce the track, Bell enters with his vocal…finely tuned and filled with wonderful emotion. This is nice and upbeat…even though the lyrics and the constant repetition seem a bit tired. I love the wizardry of Clarke and his synth….a well practiced delivery here. I love the familiar sounds of Clarke and his machines.

Be Careful What You Wish For!—- With a slower introduction, swirling slow synth lines and a melancholy vocal, I am transported back to the Erasure CD. This is sedate….the vocal layered in delivery and stacked on top of a sedate slow tempo ed synth that makes the track dark and powerful. This is brilliant….the slight echoes….the in control vocal…..the instrumentation…..come together to create a perfect storm.

World Be Gone—-Continuing in the sedate synth delivery and heavy laden lyrics, the band seems very reflective and slightly melancholy on this release. Perhaps they also feel the weight of the world we live in these days. Andy Bell has not delivered such controlled and beautifully structured vocals on an Erasure release in quite sometime. This is brilliant!

A Bitter Parting—-Opening with a rather familiar Clarke synth line, the jaunty and speedy musical delivery is almost void on this release. This continues in the same sedate and reflective vein…wondering what each of these songs mean to the duo. The vocal is very upfront in the mix…the synth taking a back seat as the spotlight shines on the crafted and damn near perfect vocal of Bell.

Still It’s Not Over—-Deep an morose at the onset, the reverb from the dense sound in overwhelming. Bell delivers tales of lost lives and loves….making you wonder what has brought about all this introspection. He references Harvey Milk….The Castro…..the years of the plague. This is a brilliant track….sad and haunting. Just incredible. The melody line of this track is wonderful…..rather addictive despite the heaviness of the song.

Take Me Out Of Myself—-  With a slight higher synth tone, the pace of the song remains much as the majority of this release….dark and plodding. Bell delivers line after line of desperate words that make me inwardly sad. The control in his voice is amazing on this record…..you actually feel every word he sings…the voice overlays gives a nice texture to the song. Brilliant!

Sweet Summer Loving—-Brighter Yaz styled synth introduces the track….nice blips and beeps are dancing around on the song. the track is still slow and mellow…but the feel and the melody line gives me a happier feel….I can almost hear Alison sing this track. This is really nice…beautiful in construction and sentiment…a brighter spot to break things up a bit.

Oh What A World—-A huge hum through my headphones usher in this track…the deep bass is amazing. The vocal enters and for the first time in a long time I am very disappointed with the band. This is mundane and monotonous…..insane in lyrics and lacking a true energy.

Lousy Sum Of Nothing—-With a sight funeral introduction, the synth in more of a hum rather than fully constructed notes. Bell delivers line after line bemoaning the lack of humanity in the world today. The lack of optimism is rather wearing at this point…but it is Erasure…and it is new material. As a life long fan I appreciate the new direction and welcome the ensuing explanation that I am sure is to come.

Just A Little Love—-Ending the release on a refreshing bright and poppy note, the synth lines is faster and the vocal is delivered in a higher more jaunty style. The positive message of the track almost wipes away the dense feel of previous tracks. Bell sounds energized and happy hear and the synth line wraps right around his vocal. A nice ending.

**** out of 5

 

Rickie Lee Jones / Girl At Her Volcano

Girl At Her Volcano

Rickie Lee Jones (born November 8, 1954) is an American vocalist, musician, songwriter, and producer. Over the course of a career that spans five decades, Jones has recorded in various musical styles including rock, R&B, blues, pop, soul, and jazz.

Jones is a two-time Grammy Award winner. Additionally, she was listed at number 30 on VH1‘s 100 Greatest Women in Rock & Roll in 1999.

After touring through much of 1982 following the release of Pirates, Rickie Lee Jones released the Girl at Her Volcano EP. It contains three live recordings, a few new studio ones and recordings left over from earlier studio sessions. “Hey, Bub” was the first song originally written by Jones for Pirates in September 1979.

The live recording of “Something Cool” was not included on the original vinyl EP release, but on the Musicassette release of the same year. Earlier recordings of this song can be found on June Christy‘s 1954 album Something Cool, and Julie London‘s 1960’s Around Midnight (which features also “Lush Life“).

I have been a fan, collector and follower of Rickie Lee Jones most of my adult life. Although there are many favorite songs in her vast catalog, this EP remains my favorite body of work from her. It shows catastrophe, vulnerability and a raw edge to the the princess.

The Analysis—-

Lush Life—-Perhaps a nod to the alcohol struggles Jones was experiencing at the time, this live rendition puts me smack in the middle of a smoky piano bar sitting around being thoroughly entertained by the ‘dame’ at the piano. Jones delivers a raw and naked vocal that runs through the notes and word inflections with an outstanding clarity and emotion. This gives me a peaceful and serene feeling…and a longing to have been in this crowd. Just brilliant.

Letters From The 9th Ward/Walk Away Rene—-Coming at you from a silence and developing into a grandiose beauty, this remains one of my favorite Jones tracks in her history. the vocal is sweet and serene with an almost child like quality to it. The music swells around your head and sucks you into the magnificence of the piano strikes and the lazy drawl of the sometimes slurry vocal. This is just fantastic….never have i heard anything this superb. I love to sleep to this album…..it gives me an almost out of body sleep experience……and that folks…..is what music is all about.

Hey, Bub—-Minimalist with just a stark piano and the sweet jazzy vocal from Jones makes this song a pure masterpiece of music. Although there some some double tracked vocals here and there and strings that enter into the song….it is the pure tormented vocal from Jones that makes this song an ethereal track of pure magic…I could never ask for more from one artist. This is magnificent.

My Funny Valentine—-Returning to the smoky dark bar feeling of the first track, this rendition of this song is brilliant. Stroked only by the piano, the voice is rough and full of natural beauty. The notes that require Jones to soar…are never missed….this slight jazzy feel to the song makes me long for a nice show tune bar where I can sip martinis and forget the world we live in. Such a simpler time this was……

Under The Boardwalk—-This is a brilliant cover version of The Drifter’s classic. Jones is joined by a male vocalist…and the vocal delivery is everything you could ask for. The slow and lazy drawl of Jones is a perfect match for this song…you can almost feel the sun on your shoulders and the sand beneath you feet. This literally transports me somewhere else. Just fantastic. You have to check this out!!!

Rainbow Sleeves—-A gentle piano introduces the song and sets the tone for the heartbreaking vocal that only Jones can deliver. This is magical…..minimalist but full of beauty…Jones sings in that alto voice of hers that manages to convey so many feelings in just a few words. I can not say enough good things about this release…when Jones really lets loose….tears flow down your cheeks…..just magical.

So Long—-Light and full of an airy vocal, Jones manages to paint an entire picture with her voice alone. I’m not sure instruments are even necessary with a performance like this. The delivery sounds heartbreaking and tortured….the notes are just perfect. The heart wrenching feel to the song makes me shake my head in amazement….I can’t believe we are blessed with such greatness.

Something Cool—-The slow and lazy drawl of Jones vocal here matches the jazzy piano almost perfectly. This is fantastic…every word and vocal inflection paints the picture of the song. I love the way the song makes me feel…..it tends to remind me of Drag Queens I have heard deliver this song….huge…..flamboyant and a bit flip…..just brilliant.

***** out of 5