A Flock Of Seagulls [With The Prague Philharmonic Orchestra] / Ascension

Ascension

Ascension is the sixth studio album by the band A Flock of Seagulls, and was released on 6 July 2018.[1][2] It is the first album since 1984’s The Story of a Young Heart that features all four original members. It contains twelve songs (eleven from the first three albums and one new song) rerecorded with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Analysis—-

I Ran—-Let me say, first off, as a die-hard fan of this band from the very first day, I met this project with trepidation and the slight dread of a possible disaster. Joyously, I announce that this release is a triumph….a return of magic and a new appreciation for old songs I never tire of. Of course, the most famous song of the 80’s, what could you do to improve on it? Wait 35 years…..add oboes…strings and horns and the ageless voice of Mike Score…..that’s what. This is just magical…the song retains every key element as the original…but is even larger in this format. This is really incredible. Like time has never passed.

Modern Love Is Automatic—-This orchestrated version bolsters this track, but still manages to keep the quasi-pop-punk sound of the original. The swirls of the added instruments make the song so much larger…the crisp recording when listened to in headphones, transports you into some other world. Mike Score sounds so good on this recording…no altering of the vocal…no down key delivery….the enunciation is even better than the first go around. This is just fantastic.

Telecommunication—-One of my very favorite tracks from this band…I approached this with caution. But there was no need….the slight re-working makes it faster and edgier than even the original…and back in the day, we thought this song was really something. The jaunty strings and drums from the Orchestra are incredible. This is just a moment in time not to be forgotten…wish everyone could hear this release.

Space Age Love Song—–This has been ‘re-produced’ in the most fantastic fashion possible. I actually prefer this version over the original and countless re-recordings. This is epic…in sound…delivery and spirit…..I can’t say enough good things about this….check out the video at the end of this post….please!!!!

Ascension—-This instrumental is the only new track on this release, but it gives me hope for the future. while it can’t come close to DNA…it still has a very nice updated sound and is catchy to my ear…especially with all he added string…pomp…and circumstance.

Wishing [If I Had A Photograph]—-This remains pretty true to form as the original….there are momentary swirls of grand music…but the song remains remarkably untouched….Score…sounding a bit strained here but still masterful and true to form. You catch every word…his enunciation is so much better these days. A remarkable rendition.

Nightmares—-True to form, the strings that are added to this track manage to make things even more dramatic than originally planned. Score sounds fresh and remarkable in his delivery….the synth lines are still there…..bolstered by the slight swells of strings and woodwinds. This is fantastic.

DNA—-Always a very, very favorite instrumental of mine, I consider this almost pure perfection in the pop world of instrumentals. This remains true to form but becomes even larger and more magnificent. The release would not be complete without this included…after all…this 2:30 won the band a Grammy. Pure magic.

Electric—-This at times, sounds a bit watered down to me…but it was never on my top 10 list. I like the energy of the whole damn thing….I can only imagine that the Orchestra must have had a blast with this recording…it just sounds like fun. The vocal is a little removed….but still sounds like it did 30+ years ago.

Transfer Affection—-This rendition is pure magic. The mellow feel of the song is bolstered by the strings that lie in the background of the song….there are subtle horns that give a body to the song. Meanwhile the synth line remains in overdrive…but never overpowers anything. This is a perfect meld of classic and current coming together to create quite a moment. I will listen to this over and over.

The More You Live, The More You Love—-This track becomes quite literally epic with the strings and the swells of the symphony. The synth line rides on top of the swells of music….but the pieces fit together like a well cut jigsaw puzzle. this was a recording meant for this type of treatment. This is another real high point on this recording….just magical.

Man-Made—-This rendition of the song becomes even darker and melancholy…more ominous and havy on your brain with this recording. The original was always pretty deep in sound and intense….this just grows with the added instrumentation. Another really stand out track on this release. It is amazing how the future has come to pass 30 years on…..maybe the band knew what they were doing after all. This is a must have recording if you are a fan of this band or the 80’s!

***** out of 5

Echo & The Bunnymen / Nothing Lasts Forever

Nothing Lasts Forever

Echo & the Bunnymen are an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1978. The original line-up consisted of vocalist Ian McCulloch, guitarist Will Sergeant and bassist Les Pattinson, supplemented by a drum machine. By 1980, Pete de Freitas joined as the band’s drummer.

Their 1980 debut album, Crocodiles, went into the top 20 of the UK Albums Chart. After releasing their second album, Heaven Up Here, in 1981, the band’s cult status was followed by mainstream success in 1983, when they scored a UK Top 10 hit with “The Cutter“, and the album which the song came from, Porcupine, hit number 2 in the UK. Ocean Rain (1984), continued the band’s UK chart success, and has since been regarded as one of the landmark releases of the post-punk movement, with the single “The Killing Moon“.

After releasing a self-titled album in 1987, the next year, McCulloch left the band and was replaced by former St. Vitus Dance singer Noel Burke. In 1989, de Freitas was killed in a motorcycle accident. After working together as Electrafixion, McCulloch and Sergeant regrouped with Pattinson in 1997 and returned as Echo & the Bunnymen, before Pattinson’s departure in 1998. The band has been touring since, releasing several albums since the late 1990s, to varying degrees of success.

The Analysis—-

Going Up—-The brilliance of this band live can not be denied. The sound is perfect and the delivery is the best record in the universe. Ian sounds just remarkable. The post-punk energy on this song is addictive…..the music seems to play in a land by itself…..and Ian still seems to sing to himself. This is brilliant.

With A Hip—-Melding from the previous track, this introduction of the band on stage is seamless. Ian sounds like a man half his age. The voice and the powerful band are just incredible. This is a throw back release that sounds like it was recorded yesterday. I love this band!

Stormy Weather—-This is just fuckin magical. Bright and shiny pop music that shines like the sun on a bright sandy beach…allowing you to lose hours at a time daydreaming of a perfect life and a shiny bright future. Ian sounds magical…..wishing I could go back in time and change some things. This was a magical moment in my history for me.

Show Of Strength—-Rapidly going from one song directly to the next, time never diminishes the magic of the music or the time it was produced. For a live recording, the sound is bright and shiny…truly a stellar performance. Ian sounds like a man half his age….it never gets old. This is magical for me.

Bring On The Dancing Horses—-Such a classic track…..full of every 80’s sound you could imagine. The slow and smooth vocal delivery from Ian s literally priceless. The sound here is a bit muddled….but it rises above and lives in your head for days after you hear it. This was a priceless time…..I thank Ian and Co. for such great memories.

 

The Disease—-Whispering at the onset…..and then the magic clear vocal from Ian…..it still lulls me into a kind of daydream…this is just literal magic. The almost spoken word delivery can be heard….but you hear the audience too…..we know every word. This was a pure genius of a band. A wonderful time full of memories and positive thoughts for the future.

Scissors In The Sand—–Coming alive in a raucous almost punk delivery, Ian is almost drowned out by the instrumentation…but that is ok…because the energy is so damn contagious and catchy. This is a bookmark for me…..a nice cross of what was….and what was to come.

All That Jazz—-Ian has such a fantastic accent when he sings/talks through his songs. This is a bit muddled in sound….but it is the energy of the delivery that is contagious. The drums are fantastic….the guitars right in your face. This is fantastic!

The Back Of Love—-The sound here is so crowded, it is hard to even catch one particular sound….but that is the price of live recordings sometimes. Ian seems pushed way to the back of everything…..but I will take it for posterity…lol

The Killing Moon—-A true classic. Sounding like yesterday. the recording and delivery is wonderful. I feel the smile start inside and I can;t stop it from spreading as Ian sings…and indeed, that is the power of music. This is so magical and well done…I have no complaints.

 

In The Margins—-A steady guitar hum soars through the song…..takin some of the brightness from the song. But once Ian opens up his mouth….you are again transported to a different place and a different feeling about life. I have such good memoies…they all come back alive….in the margins.

Never Stop—-This is a bit jaunty and fun……the sound although muddled still comes through. The bright keyboard sounds shine through Will’s guitar chords…..it all seems to create a perfect storm.

Villers Terrace—-Such a dirty production sound takes away from the ‘wonderfulness’ of the song a bit….but Ian still shines through with his vocal….at times it is too deep….but live is live.

Of A Life—-Such a classic Echo sound on this song….the sound that really fefined them and made them a stellar part of the Brit movement. Ian sings in a rather joyful way that sucks me right in….I love the memory of the song more than the song itself…if that makes sense. Brilliant!

Rescue—-a classic echo song that sounds even more powerful live. Ian sings in a rather cocky way that makes my inner self smile….I love this trip down memory lane. The chorus never fails to inspire….and the crowd singing along makes it awesome.

The Cutter—-One of the all time stellar hits, this still plays so well in my brain. This was the beginning of so many things…Alternative….Goth…..Mopey Rock……and to this day still defines and out defines all definitions of culture.

Nothing Lasts Forever—-Such a brilliant and poignant song…..this cannot be described by me….because it surpasses all definitions. The sentiment and the vocal literally takes you to another place….This is brilliant…..a band that will live forever.

Lips Like Sugar—-Perhaps the song that defined these iconic lads…..I can’t find joyous enough words to describe my elation. This is the soundtrack of my youth….and my hope for the future.

Ocean Rain—-A fantastic and apt closer, I could not ask for anything more……beautiful…..stark……boisterous and joyous….everything I needed today.

***** out of 5

Stryper / God Damn Evil

God Damn Evil

Stryper is an American Christian metal band from Orange County, California. The group’s lineup consists of Michael Sweet(lead vocals, guitar), Oz Fox (guitar), Perry Richardson (bass guitar), and Robert Sweet (drums).

Formed in 1983 as Roxx Regime, the band soon changed their musical message to reflect their Christian beliefs, and the band’s name was also changed to Stryper. They went on to become the first overtly Christian heavy metal band to gain acceptance in the mainstream. In 1983, they signed with major label Enigma Records and released their debut album The Yellow and Black Attack. In the mid-1980s, Stryper enjoyed their most successful period beginning with the release of To Hell with the Devil, which achieved platinum sales status. Stryper went on to release two more gold albums before disbanding in 1992. In 2003, Stryper came out of retirement for a reunion tour and subsequently signed a multi-album contract with Big3 Records in 2005. In 2013 they signed a multi-album deal with Frontiers Records, and have released Second Coming, which includes 14 re-recorded songs from their first three albums and an album, No More Hell to Pay, released on November 5, 2013, and Fallen on October 16, 2015

God Damn Evil is the seventeenth release and twelfth studio album by Christian metal band Stryper, produced by frontman Michael Sweet and released in April 11, 2018.

The Analysis—-

Take It To The Cross—-If you have followed this somewhat iconic band at all, you pretty much no what to expect. I guess my initial and enduring attraction to this band was not necessarily the message…but the voice and the talent of the band. I love how tight they play….and it has not changed in all of these years. The message is the same…but so is the voice and the energy…..very nostalgic…..amazing how well Sweet’s voice has held up. I don’t really care for this chorus…but the multi vocal track is nice.

Sorry—-Fairly sdate at the onset, it seems like production turned down the volume on the whole damn thing. Sweet comes out of the dark with a nice strong and soaring vocal. The chorus is damn addictive…..it sucks you in whether you buy into the message or not. I like the slight blues tinge as well…this is nice.

Lost—-To be honest with you….this reminds me of something that would have fir on Styx Paradise Theater record…the vocal is overly operatic and Broadway tinged. The music is sedate and predictable. Sweet does really scream sometimes…which really pleases me. But this all seems very contrived and theatrical.

God Damn Evil—-A return to a bluesier sound and some incredible vocals, this is like being transported back to 1984. The message remains strong….but the delivery makes it worth listening to over and over again. This is directly sent to our current times and turmoil. I rather like this song…..the delivery is key!

You Don’t Even Know Me—-Classic 80’s riffs open this track….and some fantastic drums! The music reminds me of classic Queensryche at times…..the vocal is a bit off for me at times though. I love the energy of the chorus….this saves the song from becoming obscure.

The Valley—-Fantastic drums and short sharp guitar bursts kick off the track. Sweet enters and sounds so fresh and young with his vocal….you catch every word and the chorus sucks you in. The soaring quality of his voice is remarkable….I love how effortless his vocal sounds. The marching instrumentation makes the song feel huge.

Sea Of Thieves—-At this point of the release, the album begins to suffer from a very same-like quality….everything blends from the previous song…making it seem like a long drawn out operetta. There needs a ballad here or there…or some variety.

Beautiful—-Offering a bit of differential musical delivery, the drums are just stellar here. The guitars are in perfect unison. The vocal sounds a bit to theatrical….but it is passable. Will I listen to this release on a regular basis….no….not even once in a while…I prefer the classic releases.

Can’t Live Without Your Love—-Finally we get a bit of diversity….the song is delivered nicely…..but nothing stands out as fantastic. The chorus IS huge….but it is replayed and over done. I wish there was a little bit more variety.

Own Up—-Nothing new here……at this point it all seems like one long song…..when boredom sets in so quickly that is not a good sign. This sounds like I backed up 6 songs and am going through the same thing again.

The Devil Doesn’t Live Here—-A bit more power Metal to end the release, the message returns. The music is faster and more varied…..the drums are huge. The voice soars and the song has a nice catchy element to it. I like this.

** out of 5

Breaking Benjamin / Ember

Ember

Breaking Benjamin is an American rock band from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, founded in 1999 by lead singer and guitarist Benjamin Burnley and drummer Jeremy Hummel. The first lineup of the band also included guitarist Aaron Fink and bassist Mark Klepaski. This lineup released two albums, Saturate (2002) and We Are Not Alone (2004), before Hummel was replaced by Chad Szeliga in 2005. The band released two more studio albums, Phobia (2006) and Dear Agony (2009), before entering an extended hiatus in early 2010 due to Burnley’s recurring illnesses.

The release of a compilation album amid the hiatus, Shallow Bay: The Best of Breaking Benjamin (2011), unauthorized by Burnley, brought about legal trouble within the band resulting in the dismissal of Fink and Klepaski. Szeliga later announced his departure in 2013 citing creative differences. Burnley remained the sole member of the band until late 2014, when the current lineup was announced, including bassist and backing vocalist Aaron Bruch, guitarist and backing vocalist Keith Wallen, guitarist Jasen Rauch, and drummer Shaun Foist. The band afterward released Dark Before Dawn (2015) and Ember (2018).

Despite significant lineup changes, the band’s musical style and lyrical content have remained consistent, with Burnley serving as the primary composer and lead vocalist since the band’s inception. The band has commonly been noted for its formulaic hard rocktendencies with angst-heavy lyrics, swelling choruses, and “crunching” guitars. In the United States alone, the band has sold more than 7 million units and yielded three RIAA-certified platinum records, two gold records, and several certified singles, including two multi-platinum, two platinum, and five gold. The band has also produced one number one record on the Billboard 200.

Ember is the sixth studio album by American rock band Breaking Benjamin, produced by lead singer and guitarist Benjamin Burnley. It was released on April 13, 2018. The first single, “Red Cold River“, was released on January 5, 2018. Four additional songs were released prior to the album’s release, including “Feed the Wolf”, “Blood”, “Psycho”, and “Save Yourself”. A music video for “Torn in Two” was released on the same day as the album.

The Analysis—-

Lyra—-Opening the release with a gentle piano interlude, you feel the power building as the song progresses….erupting into…

Feed The Wolf—–There is a remarkable comfort that comes from a very consistent band….such is Breaking Benjamin. This song is familiar and comfortable…but adds a slight aggression and brutal vocal that is a surprise. Ben has a remarkable voice and he sounds fantastic here. I love this.

Red Cold River—-With a subdued intro, the band still has that remarkable familiarity about it. When the rough vocals smack you in the face…you are sent staggering with the controlled aggression. The blend of voices here are fantastic….Ben seems to have found a magical line-up here. There is a lot of ebb and flow in the song…keeping everything interesting and magical.

 

Tourniquet—-Rather bizarre at the onset, the song develops into a trademark sounding Benjamin track. I love his voice here…there is a crunch to the way he sings sometimes that I just fall over myself for…this is a great example. This is classic Breaking Benjamin…..stands up well next to anything they have ever done.

Psycho—-Diving back head first into a more aggressive guitar sound, the bass line on this track is literally huge. The drums keep perfect pace…..add in the vocal and you are literally transported into a cold Nether-land. This is fantastic…accessible but aggressive…..perfectly delivered.

The Dark Of You—-Dark and ominous at the onset, the song provokes images in your mind’s eye magically. The vocal is smooth, sedate and full of a subtle pain. There is a beauty to this track I just adore. A beautiful dark journey in just a few minutes.

Down—-Returning to a full on onslaught of energetic guitar crunches and a powerful emotive vocal, this is the reason I love this band so much. The compositions are so consistent…..predictable…but delivered with a finesse that keeps me coming back for more. This is excellent.

Torn In Two—-Perhaps the most aggressive song on the release, from the first note, the song is relentless. Even Ben delivers a vocal that sounds a bit demented and evil….heavily dark. the song leaks a 90’s Alt-Rock feel to it….but it has quickly become one of my favorite tracks on this new release. Excellent!

Blood—-Chugging along like a steam engine, the band continues to deliver trademark guitar crunches that wrap around Ben’s vocals like a well oiled machine. This is excellent….consistent but not boring. A great mix of subtle and aggressive.

Save Yourself—-There seems to be such a new energy to the band since the members have changed. I am amazed that Ben can just keep pumping ot these epic tracks…I’m so happy he found the supporting characters to deliver his vision. This is melodic…tight and huge. I love this.

Close Your Eyes—-A really nice soaring lead guitar introduces this track….this sounds like it could have fir perfectly on the first or second release…..I think this has been around awhile…it has that sound of earlier recordings. But that is not a negative….this is brilliant!

Vega—-Ending the release, the band delivers a short but epic outro that leaves you hungry for more…..there is only hope that the wait till next time out last as long. A great release!

***** out of 5

Ministry / AmeriKKKant

AmeriKKKant

Ministry is an American industrial metal band, founded in 1981 by Al Jourgensen in Chicago, Illinois. Originally a synth-pop outfit, Ministry shifted its style to become one of the pioneers of industrial metal in the mid-to-late 1980s. The band’s lineup has gone through many changes throughout its history, with Jourgensen remaining the only constant as the band’s main producer, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist. Notable musicians who have contributed to the band’s studio or live activities include Paul BarkerMartin AtkinsBill RieflinChris ConnellyNivek OgreMike ScacciaRey WashamPaul RavenTommy VictorJason ChristopherTony CamposMonte PittmanBurton C. Bell and DJ Swamp.

Ministry found mainstream success in the late 1980s and early 1990s with three of their studio albums: The Land of Rape and Honey(1988), The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste (1989) and Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs (1992), with the former of the two certified gold and the latter certified platinum by the RIAA. The 1996 follow-up album, Filth Pig, was also critically acclaimed but did not repeat the success of its predecessors; the album did, however, earn Ministry its highest chart position on the Billboard 200, peaking at number nineteen. The band has been nominated for six Grammy Awards, and performed at several notable music festivals, including participating in the second annual Lollapalooza tour in 1992 and co-headlining Big Day Out in 1995.

Ministry was dissolved in 2008 after 27 years of recording and performing, and Jourgensen had since stated that they would never reunite. However, the band announced a reunion in August 2011, and has released three more studio albums since then: Relapse(2012), From Beer to Eternity (2013) and AmeriKKKant (2018).

AmeriKKKant is the fourteenth studio album by industrial metal band Ministry, which was released on March 9, 2018. It is their first release on Nuclear Blast, and marked the longest gap between studio albums in the group’s entire career; at five years, following From Beer to Eternity (2013). AmeriKKKant is also the first Ministry album without guitarist Mike Scaccia since The Last Sucker (2007); Scaccia died in 2012 but appeared posthumously on From Beer to Eternity.

The Analysis—-

I Know Words—-Would you expect anything less than a Trump sample to open this release…of course not. Al remains as outspoken and political as ever. This is a clear poke at the disaster presidency that America finds itself involved in. This is a bit sparse as far as instrumentation goes…..perhaps setting the mood for the onslaught to come. The vocal samples are wonderfully done and intermixed to form full radical sentences….Brilliant!

Twilight Zone—-With even more trump vocal samples, the music is a bit beefier here and filled with a bit more urgency. While noisy and erratic, this still lacks a bit of power for me. Al finally makes a vocal appearance….sounding less maniacal and a bit pushed to the back of the mix. This does have that nice genuine Industrial sound of days gone by…all in all…not to bad. The point is being made!

Victims Of A Clown—-Melding from the previous track seamlessly, this begins a bit sedate and with strains of Circus music…get the message? Clocking in at over 8 minutes, this takes a very long time to get started. Once the bass heavy music kicks in, the song takes a really nice shape. The lack of urgency on this release is very noticeable though….it used to be Al would rant solid for an entire hour on a release…this just seems a bit uninspired. The ‘chorus’ is nice and muscular….and tings get a bit damn noisy for a bit….like the old days.

Tv 5/4 Chan—-This brief 40 second interlude is a barrage of gunshots, TV sound bites and serves to usher in….

We’re Tired Of It—-This is more like what I have been waiting for on this release….a huge barrage of urgency….aggression and released energy set to a blistering pace. The vocal is louder and more up front….everything smacks you right in the face. The growls and yells are classic…I really needed this.

Wargasm—-Layered once again with sound bite samples and almost undistinguished vocals, the track clears up a bit to allow for the vocal. Burton C. Bell adds vocals to the chorus ala Fear Factory style…giving the album at this point a much needed breath of fresh air. This is a favorite of mine..if just for the clear and concise chorus vocal alone.

Antifa—-Powerful and featuring a driving bass line, this is another favorite track of mine. This again, takes me back to the glory days of the band when they were kings of the Industrial 90’s. This is thick…dense and has a pulsating programmed line that really comes alive in the second bar….driving the song to a new height. This is really nice. A brilliant track…though the vocals still seem really buried underneath everything.

Game Over—-After the previous track, this comes across as a ghost of a song at the onset. There is a nice melody line that travels through the song and makes it a bit more accessible. Of course, the song is full of soundbites from various generals…..and of course THE DONALD…..the layers of music that float over the melody line is pretty unique…..I don’t hate this.

AmeriKKKa—-Ending this release with a track that begins sounding more like a metal song, there are some nice elements along the way. I wish Al had more presence of mind to move his vocals up in these tracks…it sounds like he phoned in everything instead of actually participated. I like the slow, plodding sabbath style bass line…..it gives the track a doom filled atmosphere that appeals to me.

*** 1/2 out of 5

 

Editors / Violence

Violence

Editors are an English rock band, formed in 2002 in Birmingham. Previously known as PilotThe Pride and Snowfield, the band currently consists of Tom Smith (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Russell Leetch (bass guitar, synthesizer, backing vocals), Ed Lay (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Justin Lockey (lead guitar), and Elliott Williams (keys, synthesizers, guitars, and backing vocals).

Editors have so far released two platinum studio albums, and six in total, with several million combined sales. Their debut album The Back Room was released in 2005. It contained the hits “Munich” and “Blood” and the following year received a Mercury Prize nomination.

Their follow-up album An End Has a Start went to number 1 in the UK Album Chart in June 2007 and earned the band a Brit Awards nomination for best British Band. It also spawned another Top 10 hit single, “Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors“. The band’s third album, In This Light and on This Evening, was released in October 2009 and went straight to number 1 in the UK Album Chart. The band released their fourth studio album, The Weight of Your Love, in July 2013, followed by self-produced In Dream in October 2015.

Alongside their critical acclaim and strong success in the charts, Editors have consistently enjoyed sold-out tours and numerous headlining festival slots. Their brand of dark indie rock is commonly compared to the sound of bands such as Echo & the BunnymenJoy DivisionInterpolThe Chameleons and U2.

Violence is the sixth studio album from British recording group Editors. It was released on 9 March 2018 by PIAS Recordings.

The Analysis—-

Cold—-Full of atmosphere, the music wraps around the vocal remarkably well. This sounds so much like Ian McCullough, I had to double check the release title! The song becomes a bit more full bodied…but the underlying density stays puts and leaves you feeling sad and elated at the same moment. This is incredible.

Hallelujah [So Low]—-Shedding the more familiar sound of the previous track, this has a nice electronic edge to it that gives a full bodied and electric feel to the song. The noise becomes incredible during the second bar…a huge barrage of sound that threatens your headphones…then settles and returns again. A nice unexpected surprise here.

 

Violence—-A slight ambiance to the intro….the vocal is a nice mix of Ian and Bono…..perfectly in sync with the music and the instrumental mood. Delivering some sharp burst of noise here and there, the quality of the song still remains intact. This is dark…but not as dark as Editors of yesteryear. I still manage to fully embrace every release from these blokes though.

Darkness At The Door—-Again, there is a level of layered noise…but a jangly U2 style music that still remains accessible to long time fans. The vocal seems pushed to the back of the song…I would have preferred it much more i the front of the mix. I don’t dislike this release……but it seems a bit uninspired to me standing next to previous releases.

Nothingness—-A bit more sedate and still, the vocal again brings Ian to my mind and makes me really miss Echo And The Bunnymen. This has a really nice sound to it….perhaps my favorite track thus far…it is full of angst….hurt and melancholy…as well as a powerful accessible instrumentation. I really like this.

Magazine—-Atmospheric and a bit odd at the onset, I keep waiting for the song to truly develop…..as the chorus opens up…it does. The song becomes larger and more accessible….full of a rhythmic line that sucks me in. The vocal…still a bit removed from the front of the song still manages to be powerful. This is nice.

No Sound But The Wind—-Now this…..this takes me back to the beginning sounds of the band when they first began. This is remarkably stark and naked….stripped down and allowing the emotional music and vocal to form the song without a bunch of extra additives. This is just brilliant…a true masterpiece of a song.

Counting Spooks—-Layered and delivered exquisitely, this is again….a song that puts me right where I wanted to be when hearing this release. This is incredible…reminding me of when this band first hit my ears. This is brilliant….I love the consistent sound…all of that earlier noise was not necessary.

Belong—-An odd….drip drip drip of an intro, the beginning of the song is naked and stripped bare of effects and consistent instrumentation. The vocal is deeper and darker….strings wrap around it and show promise of the dark epic qualities of the track. This is classic sounding Editors…I love the naked and vulnerable sound of the whole thing. As the song develops….it becomes a bit noisier and a bit convoluted…but over all this is fantastic. A huge sad affair.

**** out of 5

The Cranberries / Gold

Gold

The Cranberries are an Irish rock band formed in Limerick in 1989 by lead singer Niall Quinn, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan, and drummer Fergal Lawler. Quinn was replaced as lead singer by Dolores O’Riordan in 1990. Although widely associated with alternative rock, the band’s sound also incorporates indie poppost-punkIrish folk, and pop rock elements.

The Cranberries rose to international fame in the 1990s with their debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, which became a commercial success. The Cranberries have sold over 40 million records worldwide. The band achieved four top 20 albums on the Billboard 200 chart (Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?No Need to ArgueTo the Faithful Departed and Bury the Hatchet) and eight top 20 singles on the Modern Rock Tracks chart (“Linger“, “Dreams“, “Zombie“, “Ode to My Family“, “Ridiculous Thoughts“, “Salvation“, “Free to Decide“, and “Promises“).

In early 2009, after a six-year hiatus, the Cranberries reunited and began a North American tour, followed by shows in Latin America and Europe. The band recorded their sixth album Roses in May 2011, and released it in February 2012. Something Else, an album covering earlier songs together with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, was released in April 2017.

On 15 January 2018, lead singer Dolores O’Riordan was found dead in a London hotel room. She had recently arrived in London for a recording session.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

Dreams—-Perhaps THE track that helped to define the sound of The Cranberries, the remarkable combination of Irish tinged folk rock combined with an Alternative sound, allowed the band to be embraced by massive amounts of fans. The driving and wonderful vocal from Dolores is the key to all of these songs here. One of the defining vocalists of the 90’s, I never get tired of the magic found in here voice.

Sunday—-With a beautiful string based intro, the song puts you in a certain frame of mind from the very first notes. The swells of quiet music takes nothing away from the power of the band…instead it shows diversity and musical growth. This is a beautiful track…..when the track finally opens up you are at once comfortable and familiar with the sound. This is quite beautiful.

Pretty—-Again, the music is stark and empty at the onset….really carrying the 90’s Alternative torch with the feel of the song. Dolores sounds ghostly and haunted in her vocal..it literally transports you places with the tone and the urgency. A poignant track considering the singer’s backstory.

How—-A fantastic almost tribal drum introduces the track. The voice is slight and quiet…but still manages to convey an urgency and demand to pay attention. As the song opens up further the vocal becomes louder and almost pleading in sound. This is quite wonderful….a voice like no other.

Not Sorry—-Consistent in sound, the guitars are a bit more pronounced and Alt in sound…truly reminding you of the 90’s Rock sound. Dolores is mystical and magical in tone. Not a favorite track…but it fits in with the collection really well.

Linger—-The opening guitar parts remind you immediately of the track you are listening to. As the flow of the song takes shape, it becomes more beautiful with every bar of sound. The vocal is just hear wrenching…Dolores had a remarkable range and phrasing that stood the test of time. This is a remarkable track…full of emotion and full of memories for me. I love this.

 

Liar—-A very distinct guitar sound ushers in a slight different sound for the band. This seems a bit out of place in the song placement but diversity is key…right? This sounds a bit auto biographical….Dolores sings with a bit of a punch underlying the upfront pleasant vocal. This is full of a great musical display by the rhythm section of the band…full bodied and instrumentally emotional.

Zombie—-Another massive hit for the band, it is hard to forget this track. Full of the fuzzy 90’s guitar sound from Seattle, this is energetic and poignant. Dolores is a vocal power house of this track…..making me almost lose my mind with the urgency and almost pleading style she sings with. The chorus is a masterpiece of power and fuzz…energy and heart break. This was a magical musical moment.

 

Ode To My Family—-Quite poppy and catchy, Dolores even sounds a bit relaxed vocally as the track begins. The almost whispered vocal at the onset is almost buried in the instrumentation. The double track voice gives the song that needed emotional punch in your gut. When the voice moves up front…you feel every single word she utters…a wonderful song.

I Can’t Be With You—-Surprisingly poppy in sound, the guitars are so understated on this track…the saving grace for me is when the chorus hits and opens the song wide open. The vocal…even understated is still full of a certain urgency and magic. this is brighter that I expected…but still has a punch in the chorus.

Empty—-This track….seems slight and starkly naked to me at times. The music is so understated and pushed to the back…you get no power chords at the onset. The magical vocal is very upfront and displays a range that is seldom heard from Dolores….rising and falling in tone and emotion. this is a bit to stripped down for me…but I love when the strings enter and give the song an almost magical quality.

Everything I Said—-So quiet and understated for me, I much prefer the band when the emit those huge power chords and energy. The ballad after ballad on this collection becomes a bit tiresome at times…but it is the catalog I suppose. This is quiet all the way around…even the vocal seems a bit less than inspired…but the words…if you pay attention…may just rip your heart out.

Ridiculous Thoughts—-Stark…I know I have used that word a lot here, musically this is so understated at the onset….and then SURPRISE….the track opens wide open and delivers a more powerful performance that goes back in the glory days of more 90’s inspired Alt-Rock. This is a welcome change after the last 6 tracks. The band sounds phenomenal…and Dolores sounds like a new breath was breathed into her….just wonderful.

Dreaming My Dreams—-Very quiet and delivered almost in a naked way, Dolores almost whispers her way through the song. The guitars are acoustic in sound and the drums are relegated to cymbals and a slight high hat. The cello…or strings lay the foundation of this very understated track.

Daffodil Lament—-Again…..the introduction sets the tone for more lament and regret….the guitars are missing…the piano seems to lead the song…then in the back drop…way removed…there is a magical noisy element to the song that makes me smile and brings me a joy. The song ebbs and flows with power and sadness…but still delivers a magic that I love about the band.

So Cold In Ireland—-Ending the first disc with yet another stripped down and melancholy tack that brings a sadness and haunted feel. The vocal is so full of that Irish brogue….I love the tone….but I need some energy at this point….and then the chorus hits and the song becomes muscular and driving….I love this song.

Disc Two:

Salvation—-Delivering an almost punk sound, this is full of energy and a certain magic the band had in the early days of the career. This is addictive…..energetic and damn entertaining. The instrumentation is driving and inspired…I never get tired of this. The vocal sounds inspired as well…..conveying an urgent message that needed to be heard by everyone. Wonderful.

 

Free To Decide—-Full of a magical melody from the very onset, the vocal seems to wrap around right in the music. the lyrics….seem even more important on this day for me. Dolores sounds amazing and convincing…like she was emerging from a darkness…that never really went away. I love this song so much….makes me really miss her.

When You’re Gone—-Such a sad song now….the thing that I love about this track…the guitar has a magical Johnny Marr sound to it….in fact the entire thing reminds me of The Smiths. The lyrical content is so sad to me….although I love the quasi-50’s feel to the song as well. This is a very favorite track of mine. So important now….

 

Hollywood—-Quiet for the first bar, then a barrage of sound smacks you in the face with a remarkable energy. Dolores sounds almost possessed at times with her driving vocal. This is a wonderfully fantastic song…the lyrics make you sit back and think about your life and the drama you might cause yourself. The huge wall of musical sound is extraordinary…..I love this.

Cordell—-Beautifully melodic and dense from the onset, the guitar is exquisite…even it it’s quiet form. Dolores delivers and understated but incredibly powerful vocal. You can feel the pain and the melancholy…the added double track vocal fills everything out….a rarely heard masterpiece of music.

Animal Instinct—-So full of a magical melody, this track is damn addictive…I listen to this over and over again. The blend of harmonious vocals suck you right into the sound. This is another magical track that does not get played enough….this was a band being so creative and working so well together. I really love this.

Promises—-A slow intro ushers in another magically muscular track that is full of energy and aggression. Dolores sounds driven to deliver her message…I love the huge sound of the music….it matches and at the same time compliments the vocal in a way that only this band could do. This is just fantastic.

 

You And Me—-Quiet and a bit introspective…but it fits my ears perfectly at this very moment. The stark quality of the song is wonderfully welcome and lifts me from my seat in a magical way. The voice literally wraps right around my cerebellum….giving me warmth and comfort. wonderful song placement.

Just My Imagination—-A bit hit and miss for me…..the poppy feel of the song confuses me a little bit. i love the double track vocal…the magical harmonies add a bit of depth to a fairly unforgettable song. That is just my opinion. I love the mood…there is a happy feel to the song…it is rather uplifting.

Never Grow Old—-Haunting and really sad at this current time. I never really listened to this so intently as I have today….it makes me tear up and feel a bit empty inside…I have lost so many personal heroes in these last few years….this is a sad lament…read into it as you will….for me there is a message.

Analyse—-Bombastic and magically aggressive from the very first note, this is a wonderful track. This has that same melody quality that drove certain songs to the top of the charts…I wonder why this was not far more heard on radio and by fans. This is just fantastic….fairly simple lyrically…the feel of the song says more to me than the words actually do…it you can understand that. This is a wonderful moment in time.

Time Is Ticking Out—-Another magically melodic track that is muscular in sound…you still poignant somehow. Dolores delivers a remarkable vocal…the chorus threatens to stay in your brain for days after just one listen….the Cranberry recipe was in full effect here. I love this song.

This Is The Day—-Sounding almost like a continuation from the previous track, this has many elements of songs that really propelled this band into the upper escalations of Modern Rock. Not only the vocal mind you, the music and the feel the band delivers was as important as the voice. This is a huge song…in sound and delivery. I love this.

New New York—-Aggressive and driving guitars literally create a wall of sound that threatens to drown out even the vocal. This track quiets a bit….but carries a true New York energy throughout the entire song….calling Lou Reed to mind. I love the energy of this song…..fantastic. Huge and Muscular.

Stars—-Rounding out this compilation with a nice melodic track that makes me relaxed…and allows me o look back on a beloved band…..love them and cherish that almost every song has a wonderful memory for me in my own personal history. Isn’t that what music is all about….memories…love…joy…sadness…..the humanness of life….thank you Dolores!!!

*****out of 5