David Bowie / Hunky Dory

 

Hunky Dory (180 Gram Vinyl)

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

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

The Analysis—-

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****out of 5

 

 

Blondie / Pollinator

Pollinator

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

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

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

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

The Analysis—-

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**** 1/2 out of 5

The Killers / Wonderful Wonderful

Wonderful Wonderful

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

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

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

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

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

The Analysis—-

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

**** out of 5

 

 

Pet Shop Boys / Elysium: Further Listening 2011-2012

Elysium: Further Listening 2011-2012 (2017 Remastered Version)

Elysium (/iˈlɪziəm/) is the eleventh studio album by English synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys. Released on 5 September 2012, it is the duo’s final album with Parlophone. The album was produced during 2012 in Los Angeles by Andrew Dawson and Pet Shop Boys.

As well as the remastered album with original track-listing, the ‘Further listening’ album of additional material features previously unreleased demos entitled ‘Vocal’, ‘She pops’ and ‘In slow motion’, as well as PSB mixes and remixes of ‘Leaving’ and ‘Memory of the future’.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

Leaving—-From the very first opening strains of this track, you knew that the boys had fully returned to form after a few forays into a bit less that traditional PSB music. Tennant delivers a vocal line that wraps right around the instrumental melody and aided by backdrop vocalists the song becomes even fuller. This is traditional…remarkable and very damn pleasant.

Invisible—-The wonderfully melancholic strains of the song wrap themselves around your head right from the opening notes. Tennant delivers line after line of alienation that is so damn relatable it is almost sad. I love the underlying hum of sadness that runs through the belly of the song…allowing you to submerse fully into the mood of the song. this is a band that seldom does wrong.

 

Winner—-Originally written and performed for the Olympics, this has long been a very favorite track from this band for me. There is a certain empowering and joyous feel to the song….the whole damn affair seems to make me happy and a bit elated. The double track sound to the vocal…and the sing song delivery from Neil gives the song this huge sound.But it is the chorus of the song that truly brings it all into focus….the joy and the happiness is contagious….all the while the low sad hum underneath of everything adds a perfect landscape of a song that should have been HUGE!!

 

Your Early Stuff—-British humor and tongue in cheek delivery is in full effect here. Tennant has a way of delivering self-effacing lyrics that still produce a magical effect. Of course, The Boys must be realizing the length of time of their career and the difference in music as opposed to now and then. this is a wonderful nod to the past and realizing the future. And in the gay world…this takes on a whole new meaning. Tennant has his pulse on human emotions.

A Face Like That—-Building and building, this becomes a stomper right out of the gate. This has the classic Lowe sound to the synth line…full of shuffling beats that are replaced by the rhythmic dance beats that fill a dance floor. Tennant…by now, knows how to phrase and deliver lines that are in tune to the music…this is a wonderful track. The effects from Lowe come at you from all directions. Neil has a vocal that is echoed and removed from the fore-front…but it is still magical.

Breathing Space—-Surprisingly introduced with an acoustic guitar sound, the song is both airy and filled with emotion. Tennant amazes me….this voice never seems to show age or abuse…it is as remarkable as the very first day. when the chorus of this song hits you….the tears threaten the back of your eyes…the emotion comes right through your speakers. Perhaps this is a tale of an aging musician……wonderfully told.

Ego Music—-Delivering a nice break in the more introspective elements of the album, this delivers a nice simple kind of song…un-complicated and delivered with a bit of fun and a nod back to the Very release with the spoken word kind of delivery. Not a favorite…but a nice break….placement is everything. The lyrics speak of the true life of famous musicians everywhere…..classic.

Hold On—-Another huge and joyous song that seems to speak to me in the saddest and most overwhelming of times. The huge choir of voices gives the song an anthemic feel….you can wrap all of your negative energy around it…press play and send it flying out of the window. This is a beautifully constructed, cheerful and empowering track.

Give It A Go—-This opens with a classic Lowe styled synth line that magically gives way to the mellow crooning from Neil. The stark piano that rides on top of the subtle synth line is a PSB magical moment. I love this…it has every element that is required with a PSB track.

Memory Of The Future—-A nice shuffling synth line…..played underneath of a classic Tennant vocal. This track seemed to garner tons of attention from fans….I mean…I like it….but it was never a pure unadulterated favorite from this release. The chorus is huge and addictive…but repetitive and without tons of substance. I like the music more than the vocal…and that is rare with this band.

Everything Means Something—-An odd intro ushers in an almost orchestrated synth feel…..with a steady bass beat in the backdrop. Tennant delivers a vocal that seems less than heartfelt and almost by rote. I never gelled with this 100%. I like the chorus and the way it opens up…it just seems a bit lackluster to me.

Requiem In Denim And Leopardskin—-A classic proper ending to a PSB release. A tongue in cheek nod to the community that buys every minuscule element of the band and a nod to Tennant. This is the gayest track I have heard since New York City Boy…I love all the references and the true understanding of the community that we live in. The chorus is a huge Gay Parade affair that makes me want to dance and proclaim myself at the top of my lungs. A magical moment.

Disc Two:

Vocal [Demo]—-For a so-called Demo, this is well constructed and delivered in classic PSB fashion. There is nothing in the least under-developed about this track. This is a joyous romp through club-land debauchery that makes me happy….allows me to dance all by myself…and fills me with an unmatched joy that only this band can bring. Brilliant!

She Pops [Demo]—-From the very first note, this is literally BRILLIANT. That low mechanical hum that drives the song underneath everything adds to the feel of the song once Tennant begins to sing. This has a nice retro feel that is so damn addictive…I can’t stop listening to it. Why this was not huge is beyond me. This has every single element that constructs a classic synth pop masterpiece.

Inside [Remastered Version]—-Right from the onset, this was a track that I could take or leave. This duo rarely ever steers me wrong…and this is NOT a bad song…but it sounds a bit uninspired and less than driven to me. Even the vocal seems a bit distant to me….not sure what the problem was here…not a favorite.

In Slow Motion [Demo]—-This has such a classic PSB sound to it…it reminds me of every great moment in this career. The lyrics are tender and real…full of emotion and a certain realness. The synth line is true to form..understated enough that they belie emotion in their very delivery. The vocal is as perfect and clear as from day one. A true classic…..

Listening [Remaster]—-Hmmmm….a slow and plodding synth delivery introduces a vocal that sounds a bit empty…until the ‘chorus’ opens up and delivers a slight dark journey through perfect pop music. The synth swells suck me in…the chorus is what makes this masterful…I don’t care for the line to line of the song…but when you get that hook….damn…you are sucked right in.

Hell [Remaster]—-Returning to full on dance mode, there is a nice jaunty feel to this song that sucks you right in from the very onset. Lowe provides enough blips and bleeps to power a space ship. Tennant relies on a slight lazy vocal that seems to fit the mode of the song in a magical way…these two know each other very well. a nice magical moment.

The Way Through The Woods [Long Version]—-Well…..this really struggles to find a place in my memory bank. there is nothing for me that stands out as incredible for me here. I was a bit disappointed…because I never heard this before…but i find it lackluster and that it tries to hard. Not a favorite at all…..sorry

I Started A Joke [Remaster]—-Whomever decided that The Boys should cover this track was a pure genius. This is a spectacular result…the emotions of the original seem to grow even stronger with this version. This is another magical PSB moment. I freakin’ love this cover….it could be huge the entire world over. Tennant delivers a vocal that is so pained and emotional…i actually cry. This is brilliant.

 

In His Imagination [Remaster]—-A huge shuffling and undeniable PSB synth line introduces this track. This is perhaps one of the most brilliant tracks I have never heard from the duo. this is sad…uplifting…emotional…joyous….full on entendres…..dance able……magical…….and wonderfully PSB. I love this track undeniably. That voice! That bass line….that magical quality…..this is wonderful.

Leaving [Believe In PSB Remix]—-Swirls of an almost Soundtrack quality introduce the track that fall away quickly to a deep house dance floor beat. This version begs you to hit the dance floor and become sweaty and trace dance with the magical synth lines….it is so easy to fall into the trance of the vocal delivery. This is magical. I love the breaks and the airy sound of the mix. Quality!

Leaving [Side By Side Mix]—-This offers a much more sonic feel to the song that is obviously designed for DJ mixing and club play….there is nothing new here…except the breaks that allow for extension…..we all have this already.

Leaving [Freedom Remix]—-This is a much. much, much better remix. The galloping beats and the synth sounds that dance from speaker to speaker are fantastic. The Lowe sound replicates an almost Moroder feel to the song that almost makes you wait for Donna to start singing. This takes a track and escalates it to a level that is historic. By far my favorite…this is magical!

Memory Of The Future [New Single Mix]—-What I really like about this remix is that it begins with the chorus in your brain….so it is already laid in there…that magical quality. Even though Tennant delivers the chorus in ‘real time’ it is already in place…..this is brilliant. I have developed a new affection for this track.

****3/4 out of 5

 

 

 

 

Low / Christmas

 

Christmas

Low is an American indie rock group from Duluth, Minnesota, formed in 1993. As of 2010, the group is composed of founding members Alan Sparhawk (guitar and vocals) and Mimi Parker (drums and vocals), joined by Steve Garrington (bass guitar). Previous bassists for the band include John Nichols from 1993 to 1994; Zak Sally from 1994 to 2005 and Matt Livingston from 2005 to 2008.

The music of Low is characterized by slow tempos and minimalist arrangements. Early descriptions sometimes referred to it as a rock subgenre called “slowcore” often compared to the band Bedhead, who played this style during the 1980s and early 1990s. However, Low’s members ultimately disapproved of the term.

Parker and Sparhawk’s striking vocal harmonies represent perhaps the group’s most distinctive element; critic Denise Sullivan writes that their shared vocals are “as chilling as anything Gram and Emmylou ever conspired on—though that’s not to say it’s country-tinged, just straight from the heart.

Christmas is an EP by the indie rock band Low. It was released in 1999 on Kranky. A Christmas album, it was released as a gift to fans. In 2013, the A.V. Club‘s Josh Modell described it as “the religious album even heathens can love”

The Analysis—-

Just Like Christmas—-If you are familiar with Lows’ music, you notice a bit of a difference at the onset of this opening track. The music that is produced is jaunty and a bit joyous…as it probably should be. the one common bond you will hear are the beautiful voices and wonderful harmonies. Mimi has a voice that is perfect for Christmas music…perfectly angelical and delivered with true emotion. This is a beautiful and perfectly delivered track.

 

Long Way Around The Sea—-From the opening notes, this track is much more familiar in sound and wraps around me like a warm fuzzy blanket. The two voices come together and produce a magical winter landscape that almost brings tears to your eyes as the describe the true meanings of this maniacal time of year. This is brilliant…beautiful in construction and delivery. Just remarkable.

Little Drummer Boy—-Perhaps the most stark and beautiful version of this song I have ever heard…..even from bona fide Church choirs. The melancholy feel of the song fits perfectly with the story. The remarkable and beautiful blend of voices will produce goosebumps…you will listen to this masterpiece of a song long after the season has left you…it is that exquisite and special. The tempo is maddeningly slow…allowing you to savor every single nuance of the words and story. This is a true masterpiece.

If You Were Born Today—-Staying true to the recipe that makes this band a indie phenomenon, the plodding slowness of the music makes it even more important. The minimalist instrumentation almost insists that you truly listen to every single word and digest it as the song moves foreword. This is remarkably beautiful…sad and a reminder of the reason people celebrate this time of year. This is just an incredibly powerful song….Low can do no wrong in my book.

Blue Christmas—-Taking a poignant song and adding the bands own personal spin, allows this classic Christmas song to become even more powerful and intense. Mimi delivers such an emotional vocal that you literally feel tears spring to your eyes uncontrollably. this is stark…naked and produces a feeling like no other version is capable of. This is heart wrenching and full of melancholy. Very powerful.

 

Silent Night—-With an incredible guitar based intro to the song, the two voices come together in a remarkably melody that could fit into any Christmas Eve service across the world. The feeling of the song is genuine and intense…the true structure of the original firmly intact but elevated by the beauty of the voices telling this story.

Taking Down The Tree—-A bit more of a livelier track, the banjo sound is really nice. Mimi adds her subtle percussion and Alan comes through with that sometimes really high vocal he sings in. The song has a sad element…as things are wrapped up for the season and we fall back into the mundane elements of winter as we aim for spring. This can produce a large array of feelings depending where you are at this point in the ‘season’….but that is the joy of this band.

One Special Gift—-Another track to wrap up this masterpiece of a release, that speaks of the let-down of the end of the season and the results of all the mayhem and the trials of the crazy thing we call Christmas. This is a poignant track…reminding me of the O’Henry tale about the combs. This is stark…naked and beautiful. A masterpiece.

*****out of 5

 

Marilyn Manson / Heaven Upside Down

Heaven Upside Down [Explicit]

Brian Hugh Warner (born January 5, 1969), known professionally as Marilyn Manson, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, composer, actor, painter, author and former music journalist. He is known for his controversial stage personality and image as the lead singer of the band Marilyn Manson, which he co-founded with guitarist Daisy Berkowitz and of which he remains the only constant member. His stage name was formed by combining and juxtaposing the names of two American pop cultural icons: actress Marilyn Monroe and cult leader Charles Manson.

Manson is best known for his band’s records released in the 1990s, most notably Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals, which, along with his public image, earned him a reputation in the mainstream media as a controversial figure and a negative influence on young people. In the U.S. alone, three of the band’s albums have been awarded platinum status and three more went gold, and the band has had eight releases debut in the top ten, including two number-one albums. Manson has been ranked number 44 in the Top 100 Heavy Metal Vocalists by Hit Parader, and has been nominated for four Grammy Awards.

Manson made his film debut in 1997 as an actor in David Lynch‘s Lost Highway. Since then he has appeared in a variety of minor roles and cameos. He was interviewed in Michael Moore‘s political documentary Bowling for Columbine, discussing possible motivations for the 1999 Columbine massacre and allegations that his music was a contributory factor. On September 13–14, 2002, his first art show, The Golden Age of Grotesque, was held at the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions center. He revealed a series of 20 paintings in 2010 entitled Genealogies of Pain, an exhibition showcased at Kunsthalle gallery in Vienna, Austria, on which he collaborated with David Lynch.

Heaven Upside Down is the tenth studio album by American rock band Marilyn Manson, released on October 6, 2017 by Loma Vista Recordings and Caroline International. The record was originally due for release on Valentine’s Day, and had a working title of Say10. However, its release was delayed, principally due to the eponymous vocalist being unhappy with the quality of the record by that date, and also because of the band’s touring commitments and producer Tyler Bates‘ schedule scoring films, as well as the death of Manson’s father during production, to whom the album was later dedicated.

The album was recorded by many of the same musicians who performed on The Pale Emperor, including Bates and Gil Sharone. The band’s longtime bassist Twiggy Ramirez did not take part in recording sessions, despite Manson initially suggesting otherwise. Twiggy was dismissed from the band soon after the record’s release, following sexual assault allegations made against him by a former girlfriend. He was replaced on subsequent tour dates by Juan Alderete. The Heaven Upside Down Tour has seen the band’s vocalist injured on multiple occasions, namely fracturing his ankle after jumping off a stage, and then being crushed by a large stage prop. The latter incident resulted in the rescheduling of an entire leg of the tour.

We Know Where You Fucking Live” was released as the lead single on September 11. This was followed on September 20 by “Kill4Me“, which went on to become the band’s highest peaking single ever on BillboardMainstream Rock Chart. Three music videos have been released to promote the album: the two aforementioned singles, as well as “Say10“. The music videos for the two latter songs featured actor Johnny Depp.

The Analysis—-

Revelation #12—-The long awaited return of Manson is ushered in by this quasi-punk rock track that is noisy and full of a throwback sound that makes me so excited and energized I almost lose my mind. the vocal is full of effects…but true to the feeling we have all become accustomed to. This is noisy and full of an underground sound that fills me with energy and a magical joy. I love this!!!

Tattooed In Reverse—-Sound effects and a draw out intro ushers in a slight blues tinged track that allows Manson to really shine on vocals. The voice is still so strong…the energy seems to be magically energized and delivered with a vehemence and energy not displayed in recent years. Marilyn sounds like the driven young man he was when this Manson-movement began…I’m entranced by the energy and the detail in the songs….this is magical. The king of mayhem returns!!!

We Know Where You Fucking Live—-The contagious bass line that begins this track threatens to over take your brain cells as it leads the song down the rabbit hole. Manson comes in with that unique and classic style full of wordplay and a contagious chorus that makes you literally lose your mind. The Industrial/Rock sound is in full effect….this is literally like a step back 10 years in time…the sound and material sounds re-energized and delivered with a remarkable vehemence. This is incredible…..I love this record!!!

 

Say10—-Kicking off with a nice genuine Industrial sound, this reminds me of something I have heard already…but none the less…my ears perk up with interest and anticipation. Manson has an undeniable energy that you can’t escape. the sound is so genuine and throwback, if you will, this is perhaps the best Manson release inn 10 or 12 years. The creaks and the escalating musical urgency is damn magical. This stays true to the Manson message…and it sounds fresh and electric…not old and beaten down. a magical musical moment for me.

 

Kill4Me—-Perhaps the greatest single Manson has released in recent history, I even hear this on area radio stations…which usually only plays classic rock. Manson can construct a magical chorus that no matter how perverse will stick in your brain no matter what. This is a huge track…the chorus sucks you in and gives you an energy that is unmatched by anything recently released….this is fantastic. I love this man…so happy to see his return.

Saturnalla—-Coming out of a sonic fog, this track builds and builds…giving me goosebumps of anticipation. The layers of sound build upon layers of sound….making the anticipation almost too much to bear. The song finally emerges….an odd sound at the onset….but fills in line with the rest of the release as it progresses. The rough vocal from Manson makes this masterful and mysterious..I love this…the energy…the bursts of musical genius….the almost vocal growls….a perfect landscape. As this progresses….it becomes damn contagious…this track has something for everyone.

Je$u$ CriSi$—-This is what I have come to expect from Manson…constant rails against all that seems to be the modern day reality. Take the reality and twist it into a giant Manson pretzel and lay it on the altar of the believers and let them feast of the results. This is a spectacular track…full of effects….drama….energy and everything that you need from the mastermind of the band. This is brutal….driving and delivered with an energy you can’t escape. I can’t imagine the crowd during a live delivery of this song.

Blood Honey—-An almost Church organ sound ushers in this track….Manson creaks a vocal that is eerie and filled with an evil sound. the music becomes huge…and the melody line that runs underneath of the song is addictive as hell. This is a fantastic track…redeeming in the ability of the man to deliver the sound and material the fans crave. Just fantastic.

Heaven Upside Down—-An odd almost acoustic guitar sound….following a really melodic guitar driven song that sucks you right into the melody. Even Manson delivers a nice modern sound that makes you shake your head and wonder where all of this stuff as been for the past few releases. Truly a safe bet for a 4th single release…this is really accessible and playable for everyone.

Threats Of Romance—-Ending the release as powerful and masterful as it began, this again has a slight blues sound to it that sucks you into the guitar based instrumentation. I love the drawl that Manson delivers his lines with…the chorus is a huge affair…..calling on the audience for lighters and mosh pits combined. This is a masterful. triumphant release. A true return to form…..all hail Manson…..Fantastic.

***** out of 5

Morrissey / Low In High School

Low In High School

Steven Patrick Morrissey (born 22 May 1959), known mononymously as Morrissey, is an English singer, songwriter and author. He rose to prominence as the frontman of the Smiths, who were active from 1982 to 1987. Since then, Morrissey has had a solo career, making the top ten of the UK Singles Chart on ten occasions and reaching number one on the UK Albums Chart three times.

Born in DavyhulmeLancashire, to a working-class Irish family, Morrissey grew up in Manchester. As a child he developed a love of literature, kitchen sink realism and popular music. Involved in Manchester’s punk rock scene during the late 1970s, he fronted the Nosebleeds, with little success. Beginning a career in music journalism, he authored a number of books on music and film in the early 1980s. With Johnny Marr he established the Smiths in 1982, soon attracting national recognition for their self-titled debut album. As the band’s frontman, Morrissey attracted attention both for his witty and sardonic lyrics and his idiosyncratic appearance; deliberately avoiding rock machismo, he cultivated the aesthetic of a social outsider who eschewed drugs and embraced celibacy. The Smiths released three further albums—including the critically acclaimed Meat Is Murder and The Queen Is Dead—and had a string of hit singles. Personal differences between Morrissey and Marr resulted in the Smiths’ separation in 1987.

In 1988, Morrissey launched his solo career with Viva Hate. This album and its follow-ups—Kill UncleYour Arsenal, and Vauxhall and I—all did well in the UK Albums Chart and spawned a number of hit singles. During this time his image began to shift into that of a more burly figure, who toyed with patriotic imagery and working-class masculinity. In the mid-to-late 1990s, his subsequent albums, Southpaw Grammar and Maladjusted, also charted but were less well received. Relocating to Los Angeles, he embarked on a hiatus between 1998 and 2003 before releasing a successful comeback album, You Are the Quarry, in 2004. Ensuing years saw the release of albums Ringleader of the TormentorsYears of Refusal, and World Peace Is None of Your Business. He released his autobiography in 2013, followed by his first novel in 2015. His eleventh solo album, Low in High School, was released in November 2017.

Highly influential, Morrissey has been credited as a seminal figure in the emergence of indie rock and Britpop. Acclaimed as one of the greatest lyricists in British history, his lyrics have become the subject of academic study. He has courted controversy with his forthright opinions—endorsing vegetarianism and animal rights, condemning royalty and prominent politicians, and promoting a vision of English national identity and Britishness. In a 2006 poll held by the BBC’s Culture Show, Morrissey was voted the second greatest living British cultural icon, behind only David Attenborough.

Low in High School is the eleventh solo studio album by English singer Morrissey, released on 17 November 2017 through BMGIt was produced by Joe Chiccarelli, and recorded at La Fabrique Studios in France and at Ennio Morricone‘s Forum Studios in Italy.

The album debuted at number 5 on the UK Albums Chart. It received mixed reviews from critics.

The Analysis—-

My Love, I’d Do Anything For You—-Ok, the requisite odd beginning you generally find on a Morrissey release, the music is very masculine in sound and sounds very big. Morrissey delivers that comfortable and trademark vocal that makes me so comfortable and happy. The music seems a bit too boisterous for the voice here…but the chorus displays a slight falsetto that shows Morrissey still ha that remarkable range. I just don’t care for the music here…The noise is a bit overwhelming.

I Wish You Lonely—-Immediate love rushes from my senses with the onset of this track. The familiar croon makes me smile inside of myself as Morrissey delvers lie after line of irony and sardonic humor. the music…although still very loud and in the fore front of the mix is a bit calmer..allowing for a full showcase of the remarkable and welcoming vocal from Morrissey. This is classic in sound..it makes me happy and nostalgic at the same time. Just wonderful and just as important in message.

Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up On The Stage—-From the very first note and vocal utterance, this reeks of classic Morrissey compositions from every year he has released music. The voice is so strong and emotive…delivering exquisite lines..the music is much more understated and has a slight orchestration. This track could fir perfectly o any Morrissey release from the last 15 years. The song makes me feel warm…welcoming and nostalgic. Morrissey has a controlled vocal delivery…he knows just how to wrap himself around the music…and it is always a magnificent result when he does it. This song….to me…may very well be auto-biographical.

Home Is A Question Mark—-Jangly bells and a strong guitar line….powerful upfront drums and the the vocal entrance Sounding fresh ad ageless. Morrissey has the remarkable ability to make me feel joyous inside. The chorus on this track is fantastic…it wraps around your cerebellum and threatens to never let go. This is addictive…one of the best songs I’ve heard from Moz in the last few years…just fantastic!

 

Spent The Day In Bed—-In my opinion, the wrong choice as the lead off single from this release, the previous track would have been a better choice. This is classic in a Morrissey way…full of political references and an underlying rail against Trump without really coming right out and say it. The voice is remarkable here…the melody line of the song a bit addictive and catchy. Morrissey sounds so vocally strong…and his band at this time is practiced around his voice and vocal style. a great track.

I Bury The Living—-A long and tedious introduction ushers in another very masculine and driving musical landscape that suddenly dies away to allow for the vocal entrance. This is pleasant enough….the lyrics are pointed and a bit American…but the track kind of falls flat for me. There is no hook so to speak of that sucks you into the track. The melody is missing here…the music just does not wrap around the voice the way I would expect. I hate to say this…but I don’t really care for this song.

In Your Lap—-This is very odd for me…at one point sounding rather political then becoming a bit ironically sexual, this piano driven track is dark in sound and still manages to deliver an empty feel to my ears that are longing for that one special magic Morrissey moment i have yet to find on this release. This is decent….would I listen to this song tomorrow…..ummm…no.

The Girl From Tel-Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel—-Seeming to meld from the previous track, Morrissey has a vocal that is very in the front of the mix…but does not contain the magic that i have been begging for. This is almost like a show tune that has no show, Not sure what is going on here…this is already a record that will lose itself in the catalog of Morrissey releases that is adequate but not great in any ways…I’m at this point…very under-whelmed.

All The Young People Must Fall In Love—-A bit more accessible to my un-practiced ear, this falls a bit more in line to the Morrissey I love. The melody line is wonderfully catchy and inspired. The vocal message a clear indictment to the american political scene. The music is still a bit odd to me…all of the off sounds that are going on serve as a massive distraction from the melody and the lyrical message. This is nice…but still manages to miss the magic that I have become accustomed to.

When You Open Your Legs—-This is really nice at the onset….Morrissey delivers lyrics that are remarkably relate able somehow. I just don’t like the music on this release…where is the power of the guitars and the percussion. All the horns that appear on this release is distracting and takes away from the beautiful crooning from Moz. I like it….but I don’t love anything on this release.

Who Will Protect Us From The Police?—–Musically powerfully, lyrically flat….full of lines that are repetitive at times. I’m sure the message is clear from the title…but it never seems to quite follow through. This release, as a whole is very disappointing to me. I still love you Morrissey…but this is not the best you have done.

Israel—-The end to this less than magnificent release finds me breathing a slight breath of relief. And hear at the end is a remarkable song that sucks me right back into the magical world of Morrissey…I fall in love wit the beautiful piano and the voice that sounds so strong and emotive…magical and intent on delivering a subtle message. The end of the record leaves me with a breath of fresh air and hope for the future….skip the middle of the record…the first three tracks and the last….should and would have been a magnificent EP release.

*** out of 5