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

 

 

Tears For Fear / Rule The World : The Greatest Hits

Rule The World: The Greatest Hits

Tears for Fears are an English pop rock band formed in Bath in 1981 by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. Founded after the dissolution of their first band, the mod-influenced Graduate, they were initially associated with the new wave synthesiser bands of the early 1980s but later branched out into mainstream rock and pop, which led to international chart success. They were part of the MTV-driven Second British Invasion of the US.

Their debut album, The Hurting, released in 1983, reached number one on the UK Albums Chart, while their second album, Songs from the Big Chair, released in 1985, reached number one on the US Billboard 200, achieving multi-platinum status in both the UK and the US. Their second album contained two Billboard Hot 100 number ones: “Shout” and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World“‘, the latter winning the Brit Award for Best British Single in 1986.

Smith and Orzabal parted company in 1991, after the release of their third platinum-selling album The Seeds of Love (1989), though Orzabal retained the Tears for Fears name throughout the remainder of the 1990s. The duo re-formed in 2000 and released an album of new material, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, in 2004. Since 2013, the duo have been working on their seventh album. Tears for Fears have sold over 30 million albums worldwide

The Analysis—-

Everybody Wants To Rule The World—-It is always interesting to look back at the music that helped to form your teen years and see how it stands the test of time in your adult brain. I was disappointed at yet another Greatest Hits record from this band…but it is always nice to hear the classics again. This track is monstrous…melodic and really does manage to stand the test of time. The two voices when joined together are a force. Roland has that remarkable upper register. The synth drive of the song screams 80’s…it is brilliant.

Shout [7″ Edit]—-Laden with every trademark gimmick of classic 80’s pop music, this song..in it’s heyday was an absolute monster. I assure you….it still plays with exquisite flavor in 2017. That classic vocal…the long notes from Roland that adds depths of emotion to the song…still can give you goosebumps even now. This is a remarkable reminder of why the 80’s still live on with a bit of success.

 

I Love You, But I’m Lost—-One of the new offerings that are offered on this release. I listen to this very carefully…looking for the magic that served as the propulsion for the band in the early years. The sound at the onset is dense, giving way to a synth laden happiness that captures my attention. The vocal is a bit odd for me….they sound more like MGMT to me. the chorus is not the huge affair I expected…but the track does not let me down. There is a catchy element to the song that makes me smile somewhere inside my self…I don’t profess pure love…but I don’t hate it either.

Mad World—-I think the key elements of this track were meant to burrow into your cerebellum and just stay there. this is a recipe laden pop song that hits a perfect 10 on every mark. The jungle drums…the static synth line…the guitar line…the beautiful and perfectly clear vocal…the intermittent horns….how can you go wrong here. This is, for me. pure pop perfection.

Sowing the Seeds Of Love—-This for me, was one of the best tracks the band ever produced. the track shows a progression of sound…while still retaining the trademarks that made the band a huge hit. The slight psychedelic feel of the song propelled them further…while the vocal harmonies were stronger and more intact than ever. The horns at the end of the track were incredible. This is a pure masterpiece…a song I never really ever tire of hearing.

 

Advice For The Young At Heart—-I remember when I first heard this song, I though maybe i was hearing a new song from Icehouse or Icicle Works….I was surprised. This is wonderfully layered with that magic emotion the band was able to produce…as well as a chorus that will live with you…even twenty plus years on. This still sounds great…still sounds important as ever…and still plays in my brain like the very first time. Those voices…it’s like magic.

Head Over Heels—-Perhaps the biggest selling single for the band…and the one that sent them way over the top in the 80’s and the video driven world, this still plays as well as it did from day one. The vocals are so strong…the way the band plays off of each other is just pure magic…there is an almost pulley system between the two….where the voice and the guitar strive to be the best. The synth lines are so strong…producing a magical melody that will never leave you alone…this was a pure magical time.

Woman In Chains [feat. Oleta Adams]—-Funny to hear this song with the climate of the nation today. It seems right in line with all of the stuff that seems t be going on. And the vocal guest from the fantastic Oleta Adams is literally heartbreaking and wrenching. This is timely…and should be played everywhere. the soaring vocals give me goosebumps…this is brilliant…way before it’s time.

Change [Radio Edit]—-Another one of those tracks that carries so many familiar sounds of the times. At certain times, the synth line sounds like a pure rip off of Rio from Duran Duran…..but the vocal kicks in and you know this is classic. The long drawn out vocal sounds from Roland gives the song a remarkable emotional quality….even while the instrumentation plays right up in the front of the song. This is brilliant.

Stay—-The second of the two new tracks on this compilation, I find this rather flat and a bit uninspired for my ears. The trademark sounds of the band seem to be largely missing…where is the play of the back and forth between the members. The vocal sounds almost foreign to me….I really do not like this very much….but I’m still glad to have it.

Pale Shelter [2nd US Version]—-This has that nice synth driven sound that is actually aided by the guitar base of the song. I love the vocal…even though it seems almost hollow in this mix. The voice is one of the key elements of this band…and the way they play back and forth with each other. I wonder what would have happened if a band like INXS would have recorded this…..wow….

Mothers Talk [US Remix]—-This has never been a very favorite track of mine….it seemed like the band was really coming apart during this period…adding all kinds of back drop vocals…nor heavy guitars and a distant between Kurt and Roland…you could smell the dissonance between the two here.

Break It Down Again—-Perhaps one of the most aggressive sounding tracks from the band, it is remarkable in melody and truism. The band offers a new bolder sound…but still managed to keep the base of the sound in the song at the same time. this has a nice anthemic quality to it. I really still love hearing this track. Really a nice memory.

I Believe—-Ghostly and full of a magical sadness that still can raise the hairs on your arms, the vocal is so pre and without any effect. The instrumentation has a slight underlying jazz edge to it that lulls you into the lyric of the track…this is so nice to hear….a magical moment.

Raoul And the Kings Of Spain—-Never a favorite track of mine…..I found nothing that was released around this particular period…out side of Sowing that appealed to me. This is so noisy and unorganized to be…like a smash and haberdasher track to satisfy an obligation….ummm….no……

Closet Thing To Heaven—-Again, there are certain elements of this track i really like. but the band seems to have lost a bit of direction here. The sound…the huge sound they always managed to produce…seems to be missing. The chorus is very nice…but the drums are too loud…the vocal sounds a bit weird as well. I like the melody…but where is the key element we love…the back and forth of the vocal and the guitar…..this is not a favorite….

**** 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

 

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

 

Monaco / Music For Pleasure

Music for Pleasure

Monaco was a side project of New Order bassist Peter Hook. Together with David Potts, the only remaining member of Revenge, the band was formed in 1995. The group is best known for the 1997 single “What Do You Want From Me?” and the album from which it was taken, Music for Pleasure, which sold over half a million copies. Hook and Potts currently perform together in Peter Hook and The Light.

The Analysis—-

What Do You Want From Me?—-Of course, I have to admit that the entire reason I fell in love with this band was because it sounded like New Order. There was nothing new from the band and I took it as a substitute. But after numerous listens, you realize the genius of the band…the vocal harmonies, the incredible contagious hooks. The bass is there of course…but the pop fundamentals are incredible…this is a brilliant track…fitting in with the Brit-pop crowd with no problem.

Shine—-Literally, still after all of this time….this song still takes my breath away. At the time this was released….things going on in my life..I felt this track was written just for me. The Hook bass line is present but understated at times…the synth line is magical…the vocal a near Bernard copycat…this still can make me tear up…this is a magical moment for me. The emotional vocal delivery tears my heart out…wow!

Sweet Lips—-The intro to the track is an airy Dance Floor stomper complete with a female singer in the back drop taking things to an even higher level. The unity of voices come together to make it a quasi Gospel stomp through feel good dance floor music. Hook gives the baritone vocal while Potts keeps things light with his magical voice…and then it all comes together to make it a joyous  ‘Come To Jesus’ track that still makes me smile.

Buzz Gum—-The intro to the song sounds like a soundtrack and then becomes a huge Oasis sounding track that somehow manages to still give me goosebumps. The wall of sound is incredible..the Brit pop sound is in place…the feel of the 90’s is everywhere. This is the best song Oasis never sang. The instrumentation is fantastic…Potts sounds so comfortable…this is just wonderful. My God when that trumpet plays at the end…..I’m done!

Blue—-Incredibly beautiful strings open the track…followed by a miraculous lonely vocal from Potts that seems to dig right into my soul. The huge swells of music are just incredible…I sit back and wonder what history would have looked like if New Order had recorded these songs…it would have been historic. This is the saddest and most uplifting track I have heard in years…it reeks of emotion….sadness and the positive. Just a miracle.

Junk—-Not a favorite track of mine, but it fits on this release like a glove. When the synth line kicks in it gives the song a sense of purpose and you feel a bit energized. Hook and his bass line are always there…even if underneath everything that is going on. This is fantastic…I take back my earlier words. Hook has a way of playing bass like few have ever have….the melody is all formed by the deep tones…just incredible.

Billy Bones—-Introducing a slight Ambient sound, the track begins quite airy and atmospheric. Hook enters with his bass line and the Potts delivers a forlorn vocal that brings sadness and desperation to your ears. This is wonderful…placed in just the right spot to make you step back and think about things. I love this.

Happy Jack—–Easy guitar and an addictive bass line come together to produce everything that New Order were not at the time. Potts opens up his mouth and gives his best spot on Gallagher impersonation. For me, I wonder, why was this release not huge? This is a genius of an album. The melody line on this song is as brilliant as anything that was being produced at the time.

Tender—–A bit odd for me….the intro to the song did not catch at first…then the female vocal began and made me think of the other off-shoot band….The Other Two…..lol…always making comparisons right? This is pleasant…I like the feel of it…but it is not a song I turn to on a regular basis.

Sedona—-Swells of music, and the release ends as magically as it began. You can feel the anticipation building as you hear the track forming with the addition of sounds hear and there….when you get those first Hook strings you feel comfortable. The track becomes alive and makes me joyous once again….just in the literal happiness of the feel of the music. A magnificent end to a very over looked release.

*****out of 5

 

 

 

Mike Score / Zeebratta

Zeebratta

Michael Gordon “Mike” Score (born 5 November 1957)[1] is an English musician. He is best known as the keyboardistguitarist and lead singer of the new wave bandA Flock of Seagulls. He released a solo album on 1 March 2014 titled Zeebratta.

The Analysis—-

All I Wanna Do—-Let me say right out of the gate, I just ‘discovered’ this solo release the other day…..I was really blown away. I never even knew it existed but since obtaining it, I have indulged at least 50 times. I will never understand why this did not get ANY attention. This opening track is by far what I consider the masterpiece of the release.  This contains every element that made AFOS such a hit in the 80’s. Score delivers a timeless vocal that belies his age. The melody line of the song is contagious as hell. I can’t gush enough about this song…this is pure perfection. Check out the video at the end of the post.

Somebody Like You—-This 2nd track is almost as magnificent as the first. such a strong melody line…aided by the synth from Score produces a classic throwback sound that takes me right into the glorious 80’s. The vocal is clean and crisp and full of emotion. This is a spectacular track that is released back in the band’s heyday would have been a bona fide smash hit. This is brilliant.

Angel—-A fabulous synth line that reminds me of the opening strains of Safety Dance, I still sit here amazed at how crystal clear and perfect Score’s vocal delivery is. This is upbeat…very reminiscent of the glory days…but fresh and showing all the advances in technology.  This is fantastic. There is even a quasi-bagpipe interlude!!!

Xtacy—-Atmospheric and deeper in tone, the synth lines swirls around your head. The vocal is less melodic…almost a spoken word delivery that reminds me of a 80’s Industrial Starter track. Dark and dense….but still fantastic. A great actual guitar solo mid point in the song….Excellent.

The Girl With Black Eyes—-The intro to this track is a bit irritating….the high pitched synth line could easily be omitted. Score delivers a stellar vocal that is magical…once the high pitch disappears and the melody line becomes more apparent, I found myself sucked right back in the mastery of the vocal. The lyrics are intense..the mood dark….just wonderful!

Poor Boy—-More straight forward in the ‘rock sense’, the guitar introduces that song right from the onset. The vocal is WAY removed from the front of the song….placed way back in the mix of shuffling synth lines. This has a lot of layers…which is why I like it so much. This is really nice.

Take Your Time—-A bit of a weaker track, but every release has those right? I love the synth line that runs through the song…the voice is a bit too mellow fro me…I wanted that stronger delivery that attracts me so much. This is still contagious in chorus and melody…and we do get some forceful vocals as the track continues.

I Call Your Name Out—-Delivering an almost trance like feel to the song as it opens up, Score is back in the forefront of the track. This reminds me of material from Story Of A Young Heart. The pulsating beat…mixed with the shuffling synth line gives the song a lot of variety. I like this a lot.

Catsong—-With a gentle reverb filled intro, the vocal is quiet and delivered with a bit of humor to me. This is an odd song for me..it really gives me a different feel…I really think this is about a cat…lol

Home—-This is just brilliant! The swirls of emotions that the synth line produces are incredible…then Score begins to sing…delivering that magnificent dis-embodied feel that makes you feel like he is removed and cold. This has an infectious shuffling quality to the music…and the voice is fantastic. I love this.

Love In—-This has a really nice jaunty feel to it…hand claps and an upbeat flavor that makes you smile. the vocal is a throwback style that reminds me of something I can’t quite put my finger on. This is fantastic…Score seems to be really enjoying this music…that makes everything even better. This has a definite 60’s feel to it…and many references as well.

Money—-A fantastic programmed keyboard line runs through the entire track…giving a very consistent feel to the song. I love that voice…I am just amazed how fresh and wonderful he sounds. This reminds me a lot of classic Depeche Mode…the strange synth and the escalating chorus…I love it.

Valentine—-Again, jaunty and delivery a contagious melody line, this track fits well with the rest of the material on this release. I like the vocal delivery…of course. Score has a way of singing that sounds so sincere…but has a purity to it. The bass line in the song propels it…and the revolving synth line provides the miraculous melody line. The occasional beat breaks in the song keeps everything interesting.

Wasteland—-Sorry to see this release end, hoping that maybe someday, there is still fresh new music inside of the man. This leaves me a bit empty…the song has a desolate and lonely feel to it…but it is still wonderful. There is a bit more guitar noise on this track…a nice surprise….the vocal slow and steady…matching the feel of the lyrics.

****3/4 out of 5