David Archuleta / The Other Side Of Down

The Other Side Of Down

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

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

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

The Analysis—-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***** out of 5

 

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

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

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

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

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

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disc Two:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****3/4 out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R.E.M.—-Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011 [Pt. 2]

Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011 [Explicit]

The Analysis—-

Disc Two:

Everybody Hurts—-Continuing with a track that again brought worldwide attention to the band, Stipe sounds literally crushed in his vocal delivery. The heaviness of the song lyrics are matched perfectly with the understated style of guitar and gentle drums. A true favorite track of mine.

Man On The Moon—-Fun and a bit lighter than the previous track, I have always loved this song. he duel vocals are remarkable….raising Mills and his talents to a whole new level. This is brilliant….addictive and remarkably fresh for the time we are in now. I love this song.

Nightswimming—-Such an odd and rather ominous intro, Stipe enters with his melody heavy vocal that gives the song it’s very structure. This is a remarkable track…beautifully stark and full of an indescribable intensity and beauty. A true standout.

What’s The Frequency, Kenneth—-Such a joyous and noisy track. I remember falling in love with this the first time I heard it. The electricity from the instruments are just phenomenal. The driving guitar line is incredible….the tone of the song urgent and intense…..just fantastic.

 

New Test Leper—-Sedate and delivered with a beautiful understated acoustic guitar, Stipe sounds almost defeated and broken in his vocal delivery. This is a strong track…..truly accessible but very Indie at the same time.

Electrolite—-Really almost an extension of the previous track, this carries the same feeling over. The lyrics are intense…the music understated and the vocal delivery almost heavy with a certain sadness. he understated elements of the song make it even more powerful for me.

At My Most Beautiful—-Piano heavy and still understated in the instrumentation, this has an almost ghostly feel to it. The simple strains are powerful….the vocal pushed to the back of the mix making you feel a sadness and heavy emotional feel. This is dark but beautiful.

The Great Beyond—-I don’t really feel a familiarity with this track….it seems naked and uninspired to me….I’m left with an empty feeling from the starkness of the song. Not a throw a way……but not a favorite either.

Imitation Of Life—-Returning to a more familiar and accessible sound, this sounds like an invigorated band that decided to return to the sound the fans fell in love with. This is much more pleasant…sounds inspired and had an addictive chorus that is just brilliant.

Bad Day—-Electric and almost with a funk line in the underbelly, this sounds like a throwback to It’s The End Of The World….delivered in the same urgent feel and jerky jaunty guitar. Stipe sounds a bit hollow…like the freshness of the band really had left him.

Leaving New York—-Again sedate and delivered with an odd style vocal that really never resonated with me….like Stipe thinks he is in a stage play or something. This is not on my list of favorite tracks by any means. Only the chorus saves the song for me…..

Living Well Is The Best Revenge—-The electricity and urgency side of the band returns in a fiery display of guitars and drums. Stipe sound possessed as he delivers his lines fast as lightening and with a renewed purpose. This is a fantastic, noisy track.

Supernatural Superserious—-Perhaps one of the last truly meaningful and powerful tracks from the band before the demise, the electricity of the band is in full force. Mills returns on the backing vocals and fills out the song remarkably well. This is a huge track for me….I love Mills voice and the melodic quality of Stipe’s singing.

Uberlin—-With a nice throwback sound to the mid 90’s, this track sounds much better to me now listening back on it. The understated instrumentation seems to wrap itself around the emotional feel of the lyrics. Really a beautifully constructed song.

Oh My Heart—-This for me…..is just a mess. The attempt to deliver a Spanish style feel to the guitar falls flat. Stipe sounds like he is singing in another room. Even the addition of Mills can’t even come close to saving this song.

Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter—-A nice vigorous feel to the electric side of the band, the music has an urgency that is nice…but there is so much happening here that it all comes about as a musical mess full of chaos and incongruity. I really don’t like this. Even Kate could not save this.

A Month Of Saturdays—-Empty and uninspired. Naked and without form……a band that has lost direction…..Stipe sounds bored and tired.

We All Go Back To Where We Belong—-The swan song is a pretty but uninspired track that leaves me sad to see them go…but happy to know that they knew when the inspiration was gone. This is pretty…..but really does not resonate with me.

**** out of 5

 

 

 

 

R.E.M / Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011

Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011 [Explicit]

R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, that was formed in 1980 by drummer Bill Berry, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist/backing vocalist Mike Mills, and lead vocalist Michael Stipe. One of the first alternative rock bands, R.E.M. was noted for Buck’s ringing, arpeggiated guitar style, Stipe’s particular vocal quality and obscure lyrics, and Mills’ melodic basslines and backing vocals. R.E.M. released its first single—”Radio Free Europe“—in 1981 on the independent record label Hib-Tone. The single was followed by the Chronic Town EP in 1982, the band’s first release on I.R.S. Records. In 1983, the group released its critically acclaimed debut album, Murmur, and built its reputation over the next few years through subsequent releases, constant touring, and the support of college radio. Following years of underground success, R.E.M. achieved a mainstream hit in 1987 with the single “The One I Love“. The group signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1988, and began to espouse political and environmental concerns while playing large arenas worldwide.

By the early 1990s, when alternative rock began to experience broad mainstream success, R.E.M. was viewed by subsequent acts such as Nirvana and Pavement as a pioneer of the genre. The band then released its two most commercially successful albums, Out of Time (1991) and Automatic for the People (1992), which veered from the band’s established sound and catapulted it to international fame. R.E.M.’s 1994 release, Monster, was a return to a more rock-oriented sound, but still continued its run of success. The band began its first tour in six years to support the album; the tour was marred by medical emergencies suffered by three of the band members.

In 1996, R.E.M. re-signed with Warner Bros. for a reported US$80 million, at the time the most expensive recording contract in history. Its 1996 release, New Adventures in Hi-Fi, though critically acclaimed, fared worse commercially than its predecessors. The following year, Bill Berry left the band, while Stipe, Buck, and Mills continued the group as a trio. Through some changes in musical style, the band continued its career into the next decade with mixed critical and commercial success, despite having sold more than 85 million records worldwide and becoming one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time. In 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in their first year of eligibility. R.E.M. disbanded amicably in September 2011, announcing the split on its website.

Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982–2011 is a 2011 greatest hits album from alternative rock band R.E.M. Intended as a coda on their career, this is the first compilation album that features their early work on independent record label I.R.S. Records in addition to their 10 studio releases through Warner Bros. Records. The double-disc retrospective was released through Warner Bros. on November 11, 2011, and was compiled by the band members. The existence of the compilation was revealed simultaneously with the group’s announcement that they were disbanding on September 21, 2011.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

Gardening At Night—-Beginning with the trademark style of guitar twang the band was know for in the early days,  the vocal from Stipe enters displaying his unintelligible vocal style that always lest everyone guessing as to the true lyrics and meanings of the songs back in the burgeoning days of the band. The jaunty feel of the song is addictive and instantly recognizable….still filling me with a joy and reminder of the beginning of what we all called Alternative.

Radio Free Europe—-Perhaps recognized as the first proper release from the band, this was a landmark recording for me. I instantly fell in love with the band and the mystery that surrounded the meaning of the songs. The energy of these early recordings still manage to bring a smile to my face…instantly making me appreciate the genius of the band and at the same time mourn the passing of true legends. This is addictive…accessible and damn pleasant to listen to…..when Mills joins in on the chorus….the song is unstoppable.

 

Talk About The Passion—-Beginning with the unmistakable guitar sound that the band always managed to deliver, Stipe enters with a melancholy vocal that always seems to wrap itself around my very soul. here were times in my youth when I was sure the man was constructing these emotional masterpieces designed for my dark and needy moods. a true wonderful memory of youth, sadness, struggle and an underlying joy.

Sitting Still—-A song I was not really familiar with my title alone, it is one of those songs that when you hear the beginning chords you say….ah yes…that one. Again, there are times when Mills enters on the vocal and rounds out the sound of the song. I love the urgency, the pleading feel of the vocal and the remarkable jangly feel of the music.

So. Central Rain—-Tracks like this….from perhaps my favorite R.E.M. release, remind me of a care-free, employment free, alcohol filled summer of complete abandon and a deepening dive into everything Alternative and out of the mainstream. Stipe still delivered lyrics that were open to interpretation and implication and just left enough of the dial to appeal to the youth of the day. Fantastic.

[Don’t Go Back ToRockville—-full of Country inspired guitar strumming, the song opens up further upon the chorus  and becomes a frenzied romp that is even pertinent these days. I love the lazy drawl that Stipe manages to deliver throughout the entire song. There is a deep underlying tone to the song that is magical….and then Mills starts to sing with Michael on the chorus and the song becomes a masterpiece.

Driver 8—-Driving and seemingly filled with a bass driven aggression, Stipe again delivers a slurred type of vocal that seems to dissolve during what could be the most important lyric. Mills takes a bigger part on the vocal on this track and really serves as foreshadowing of how important his vocal would become later in the band. This is a driving, bass filled angst ridden journey that I still love.

Life And How To Live It—-This is a nice example of the slow but steady evolution of the sound of the band. Although much of the lyrical content is still a mystery. the sharpness and ability of the band seems to improve with every song on this compilation. These were the finest days of a classic and brilliant band.

Begin The Begin—-This release started for me a progression that the band continued until it’s demise. The music was brighter and filled with messages for the listener to grab a hold of. The lyrics were clearer and the music was filled with an aggressive delivery that seemed to help the message be conveyed to the listener. This was a brilliant track.

Fall On Me—-With an almost Alt-Country intro, the band introduces a addictive mellow sound that propels your mind to struggle with the lyrics, draw your own conclusions and fall in love with the blended vocals from Stipe and Mills. A truly shining moment from the kinds of Alternative.

Finest Worksong—-I love the propulsive feel of the guitar on this song. The riff sounds like it is always progressing but manages to stay in one place. Again we get remarkable blended vocals and a huge masculine bass line that still sounds incredible now. I really consider this one of my favorite tracks from the band.

 

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It—-Jaunty and fun right from the onset, the song travels at an amazing pace. The lyrics come at you so fast and furious….it is hard to keep track of all he doom that is being delivered. Another track that still stands the test of time remarkably well.

The One I Love—-One of the songs responsible for propelling this beloved Indie band to world wide success, The band stayed true to their sound and message…I guess the time was just right for the band to burst from the underground, so to speak. Laid back and gentle until the heavier chorus guitar line, Stipe sounds remarkably fresh and driven…sincere and positive in delivering his message.

Stand—-For me this has always been a track that has a slight silly side to it. The lyrics and clear and simple…the guitar is basic and understated. The chorus is addictive and will live in your brain for a long time. Addictive and fun.

Pop Song 89—-Another track that for me at least, has a slight Alt-Country feel to the under belly of the melody line. The crisp clarity of the vocals are a big change from the early days. The message is quasi-political and the melody line damn pleasant.

Get Up—-Aggressive with sharp burst of guitars and great drumming, the mixed vocal brings an automatic smile to my face. Sometimes I prefer the Mills vocal over Stipe. This is a fine progression in sound and direction.

Orange Crush—-Another landmark release for me, this was a nice throwback in sound to the earlier days of the band…the duel vocals…the jangly guitar and the vocal urgency. This was also a period when I think Mills started adding vocals even more to the band’s songs…giving the sound a pleasant fuller sound. Remarkable still today.

Losing My Religion—-Another track that really pushed the band and sales into the upper reaches of the universe. The track is pleasant enough but at this pint suffers from overplay. I don’t have complaints about the song, I’m just tired of it.

Country Feedback—-Bringing the Country leanings of the band into the front of the sound, I love the talk delivery of the vocal…..it tends to give the song a haunting feel that still manages to give me goosebumps. This is wonderful to hear again.

Shiny Happy People—-The joining of vocals from Stipe and Kate Pierson was pure genius. The blend is perfect and created a magical musical moment in history. The jangly feel of the music is true to the sound of the band….but the elements of Stipe, Mills and Pierson makes this a masterpiece.

The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight—-Never a true favorite of mine, I still love the basic elements of the song. The sound is true to form,,,Stipe sings with an urgency that is nice to hear….The range of vocal styles are great…the chorus falls flat for me though

*****

 

 

 

 

Bleachers / Gone Now

Gone Now

Bleachers is an American pop act based in New York City. It is the official stage name of songwriter and record producer Jack Antonoff, who is also part of the bands Steel Train and Fun. Bleachers’ pop music was heavily influenced by the late ’80s, early ’90s and the high school-based films of John Hughes while still using modern production techniques.

Gone Now is the second album by American indie pop act Bleachers, released on June 2, 2017.

The Analysis—-

Dream Of Mickey Mantle—-Drenched in a slight distortion and reverb, the promise of a huge track is there from the first note. When the track finally opens up, your ears are drenched in a quasi-80’s style synth line and a Springsteen like vocal delivery that is steeped with an Americana feel. This is a huge track….sounds coming at you from every direction…..sometimes very chaotic and exhausting.

Goodmorning—-Seeming to repeat the same melody line from the previous track, the chaos is settled somewhat. The vocal distortion and reverb is a bit distracting for me….the sounds taking away from the magical throwback sounds of the 80’s synth line. The vocal has just a perfect sound of angst and ire…..I like this.

Hate That You Know Me—-This is much more in the vein of 90’s pop sounds…..but again, I could do without the excessive use of reverb and distortion…it is very difficult to follow the melody line of the track with this going on. This is like a throwaway Sugar Ray track.

Don’t Take The Money—-Right from the first note, this track wrapped itself around my brain and took up residence for quite sometime. This has a huge sound….a classic throwback sound to days of yore…a vocal that is so damn pleasant. All of the makings of a standout track…this is MAGNIFICENT!!!

Everybody Lost Somebody—-Returning to sound effect heavy music, the song reaches a clarity with the chorus. The horns on the melodic sing a long chorus are damn addictive and bright. The song has a dark edge to the story….but the jaunty feel of the music and the highly addictive chorus creates, with the previous track, a centerpiece to the release.

All My Heroes—-Coming out of the silence with a Berlin style synth line, the vocal is high in tone and full of a melancholy feel. The chorus erupts and grows and grows….making it another unforgettable track. The driving synth line that runs underneath of the track makes this as wonderful as it is. A classic sound…..and an addictive unforgettable melody/chorus.

Let’s Get Married—-With a clear throwback sound to the 80’s bombast, the vocal is phenomenal on this track. The chorus of voices that are all entwined make the song so large and addictive….this is by far my favorite track on this release. Full of every ingredient that creates a perfect pop song, the recipe is mixed with expertise and finesse. Wonderful!

Goodbye—-Returning to what I call the Sugar Ray 90’s feel, I could take or leave this track. without a proper chorus that catches my ear, this leaves me a bit empty and wishing for that addictive big sound to return.

I Miss Those Days—-From the onset, the jangly pleasant feel of this track settles in with me and makes me smile. There seems to be just the right amount of angst to the voice to match the lyric and the sentiment. The song literally explodes into a bright sunny romp of E-Street style revelry that pleases me to no end. This is fantastic!

Nothing Is U—-Sedate and filled with an intricate lyric and melody line, the stark piano allows a slow synth line that gives the song an even deeper feel. This is beautifully sad and intense…..full of an emotional call of understanding and thanks for love given. this is beautifully constructed….the song seems to grow and grow as it progresses….becoming this huge incredible ode to love. I am addicted as hell to this.

I’m Ready To Move On/Mickey Mantle Reprise—-Not much different in offering than the opening track, I do love the play of the speakers in headphones. The style of this song does not serve the band well….the pop construction is missing and leaves me hollow.

Foreign Girls—-Ending the release with an odd track, the intro leaves me desperate for a return to the centerpiece sound of the record. The vocal is very high in tone and a bit annoying to the ear. The chorus enters and the track becomes a nice sing a long track that is addictive and catchy. I like this….but as an ending….I just want to return to the center of the release.

**** out of 5

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

Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Analysis—-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***** out of 5

 

 

Erasure / World Be Gone

World Be Gone

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

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

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

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

The Analysis—-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**** out of 5