Low / Christmas

 

Christmas

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

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

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

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

The Analysis—-

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

*****out of 5

 

Marilyn Manson / Heaven Upside Down

Heaven Upside Down [Explicit]

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Analysis—-

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

***** out of 5

Morrissey / Low In High School

Low In High School

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Analysis—-

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*** out of 5

 

Monaco / Music For Pleasure

Music for Pleasure

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

The Analysis—-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****out of 5

 

 

 

The Shamen / En-Tact

En-Tact

The Shamen (/ˈʃmɛn/SHAY-men) were a Scottish electronic dance music band, formed in 1986 in Aberdeen. The founding members are Colin Angus (born 24 August 1961), Derek McKenzie (born 27 February 1964) and Keith McKenzie (born 30 August 1961). Peter Stephenson (born 1 March 1962) joined shortly after to take over on keyboards from Angus. Several other people were later in the band. Angus then teamed up with Will Sinnott, and together they found credibility as pioneers of rock/dance crossover.

En-Tact is an album by The Shamen, released in 1990. It was the first Shamen album to feature Mr C, and the last to feature Will Sinnott (who died on 23 May 1991). It fused the band’s past psychedelic rock sounds with the rave act it became, developing a style that represented multicultural dance music.

The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

The Analysis—-

Human NRG—-This band, long forgotten by many I’m sure, still finds it’s way to my turntable on a regular basis. The hyper kinetic sound and the addictive electronic melodies were huge for during the burgeoning early House Music days….I fell in love from the first listen and have never left since…even though later material became much more ambient in nature. This track…with the high keyboard tones, the melodic vocal and the understated but hypnotic beats were trademark….classic stuff…it still plays well today.

Progen [Land Of Oz]—-Most people will immediately recognize this track as Move Any Mountain…a huge underground dance hit in the early 90’s. This is hyper kinetic…fast but with a vocal that addictive as hell. The MC that was added gives the band a depth that was missing…this is an incredible song…a footprint in musical history. I love looking back. This laid the framework for bands like Blackbox and C+C Music Factory.

Possible Worlds—-Using a brilliant vocoder before people even knew what one was, this is fantastic. With a slight ambient beat going on underneath the synth line, this is a nice cool-down track for the after party…combining dance and a chill atmosphere the title of the song says it all.

Omega Amigo—-Expanding on the quasi-ambient feel, the track opens with nice synths and a slow pace..but becomes a track that is a favorite of mine. The bass line provides a perfect trance dance rhythm that sucks me in. The vocal is just OK for me…almost too pretty for the song…but it is the music that is the star of the show. There are slight 80’s leanings to the voice that i like…this was a magical time….

Hyperreal—-Really an ambient and airy feel, the song denies the title…lol. This is perfect for those after long night parties at the crib. The vocal is much nicer on this track,,,you fall right into the trace like delivery. This release…in it’s entirety….was truly a masterpiece for the youth of the 90’s who were raving and dropping in…..still fantastic.

Lightspan—-You can almost feel the huge strobe lights and sweaty crowds as this track begins. The staccato vocal is perfect for dancing by yourself like no one cares. I love this…the ability of a band this early in the 90’s to deliver such magnificent technology is awesome. The sound and vocal snippets are perfect for mixing in and out of….just brilliant.

Make It Mine V2.5—-Yet another classic track is you ever perused the dance floors of the early 90’s, this has every fantastic element of The Shaman included on one track. The music…at times can almost come across as angry and ugly…the vocal is literally fantastic…it just seems to float over my head….a brilliant moment in music history.

 

Oxygen Restriction—-With a classic and familiar bass beat at the intro of the track, you have heard it 1000’s of times repeated on rap tracks. The song as a whole is a bit to airy and full f space for me…I was never a true ambient fan…none the less, the song placement is perfect on the record…giving you the needed variety. Really Nice!!

Evil Is Even—-A bit to spacey for my taste, the form of the song takes a very long time to appear and never really becomes much more than a wall of sound and repetitive effects….a downer for me…just not my cup of tea. The quasi African sounds are interesting….but the repetitive nature of the song continues FOREVER!!!

Human NRG [Massey]—-Not differing in a dramatic form from the original, the vocal seems much clearer but the beats sound a bit more muddled. The high tones of the synth with the slight reverb make the track a spacey kind of ordeal..I love the air that magically flows through the underbelly of the song.

Make It Mine V1.3 [Pirate Radio]—-The intro to this remix seems more updated and appealing to the ‘straight’ club crowd that was loving C+C Music Factory and classic New Order at the time. This is a long extended musical version that goes on for a very long time…with just snips of the vocal here and there…a DJ’s dream I suppose…making mixing in and out a bit easier.

Oxygen Reprise V2.0—-Not a noticeable difference in this version. I like the ‘rolling’ synth lines that appear in between the vocal…the hyper beats that play in the background but never take over the song. The vocal seems more sedate….this is preferable over the original actually.

Hear Me O My People [Orbital-Expect Delays]—-Brilliant…..the vocal snippets combined with the static synth lines is just magnificent. I love this track….really forgetting that it was on this release. The track is a huge epic sort that has all of these underlying messages of Apartheid and the urgency of freedom fighters…this is a magnificent track…the message was clear.

****3/4 out of 5

 

 

Queensryche / Condition Human

Condition Hüman

Condition Hüman is the fifteenth studio album by American progressive heavy metal band Queensrÿche. It was released on October 2, 2015 through Century Media. It is the second studio album recorded with vocalist Todd La Torre, after Geoff Tate was fired from the band and gave up the rights to the name after a two-year lawsuit regarding the rights to the Queensrÿche brand was amicably settled.

The album’s first single, “Arrow of Time,” became available for streaming on July 20, 2015, the day the album’s title and release date were announced. It was recorded in early 2015 at Uberbeatz Studios in Washington and produced by Chris “Zeuss” Harris.

The Analysis—-

Arrow Of Time—-Everything about this opening track including the vocal reeks of classic Queensryche. It is amazing how much Todd sounds like Geoff Tate. The song is catchy as hell…reminds me of the classic sound the band started to develop around the Rage For Order time. The vocal is extraordinary….the music this band is making is just not much in demand anymore…it is glad to see bands still trying to keep this sound alive. This is a fantastic start.

Guardian—-I like the speedier guitar on the opening of this track…the guitar is very reminiscent of stuff off of Operation: Mindcrime and Rage…with vocal effects added in the backdrop. The double track vocal gives a nice full sound…and make no doubt…this dude can scream with the best of them. This is really nice. This has such a ‘classic’ Queensryche sound to it.

Hellfire—-Delivering the requisite ‘Hair Metal’ ballad, the band stays true to the recipe that cemented so many metal bands in history. This is such classic in sound…you will think you stepped back in time and listened to a ‘lost’ Queensryche record. I’m not sure if this is purposeful or not. Scott must get a lot of Tate comparisons…you can’t deny it. Even the vocal phrasing is the same…none the less…it is nice to see the band still plugging along. Really not a ballad s it progresses.

Toxic Remedy—-A nice huge guitar intro…..a landscape of sound followed by the trademark drums. The vocal at the onset of the song is a bit weak for me and uninspired…I love the double tracking though. It makes the song so large. The music is really the star of the show on this track for me. The band sounds better than ever.

Selfish Lives—-From the onset, this is like stepping back in time and listening to a track that would fit perfectly on Mindcrime. I wonder if some of these tracks were actually leftovers….the sound is perfect and the lyrics seem to cover the same subject manner. Add the vocal style and you feel like you have discovered old gems from a time long ago.

Eye9—-Beginning with a seldom heard awesome bass line, the song is a bit convoluted at the onset…but the muddled feel clears up as it progresses. The sharp guitar blasts give me a sense of energy. The vocal and the lyrics are pure Progressive Metal…this is a great track…no wonder it was released as a single…perhaps the highlight of the release.

Bulletproof—-Intricate guitar kicks off the track….the classic ballad sounds in full effect here. The vocal literally soars on the chorus…making this a huge addictive song. the guitar delivery delivers emotion and the drums…understated but very present are key to the feel of the song. This guy can really sing!

Hourglass—-Powerful and with a huge wall of sound from the very first note, the music dies away a bit to allow for the vocal. Again, the double track voice gives a fullness to the song. The chorus is huge..a sing a long chorus that does tend to stick with you a bit. This is classic in sound…but fresh enough to keep my attention.

Just Us—-In full ballad form for this track, the vocal is right in your face as the song begins. The gentle sounds of the band allow for the voice to be the star of the show. The lyrical content…a bit juvenile is classic required ballad material on every record. I could do without this…nothing really new here.

All There Was—-Great guitar effects and drums open up this track. There is an aggression and urgency to the music that catches me attention right at the onset. The vocal is pretty predictable…for me, the drums….really in the front of the mix, and the guitars keep the track interesting. I rather like this.

The Aftermath—-An odd little snippet that could have been a great song…..

Condition Human—-Ending the release less than aggressive, I would have preferred a huge galloping track that was designed to leave me hungry for more from this new entity of a classic band. Instead I am left with a feeling of relief that it is over. The saving grace for this track is the huge chorus…the guitars seem to float over my head. For me…it full form. this is a bit of a disappointing release.

*** out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

Martha Wash / Something Good

Something Good

Martha Wash (born December 23, 1953) is an American singer-songwriter. Known for her distinctive and powerful voice, Wash first achieved fame as one half of the successful act Two Tons O’ Fun who sang backing for American disco singer Sylvester. After gaining their own record deal, they released three consecutive commercially successful songs which all peaked at number 2 in the dance charts. The duo was renamed The Weather Girls in 1982 after they released the multi-platinum single “It’s Raining Men“, which brought the band to mainstream pop attention.

After the disbanding in 1985, Wash made a successful transition into house music as a featured artist on several successful songs. Her success on BillboardDance chart has earned her the honorific title The Queen of Clubland, with a total of twelve number-one songs on the chart to date.

Wash is also noted for spurring legislation in the 1990s that made vocal credits mandatory on CDs and music videos after being denied proper credit and royalties for the platinum-selling number one song “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” after she had been labeled “unmarketable” due to her weight. In December 2016, Billboard magazine ranked her as the 58th most successful dance artist of all-time.

In January 2013, Wash released her second studio album Something Good. The album’s second single “It’s My Time” was written by Swedish singer-songwriter Helena Johansson. In March 2013, she was a special guest for the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus during their spring production “Big Gay Sing 6: Club Night Out”. In 2014, the album’s final single “I’m Not Coming Down” peaked at number two on the Dance chart.

The Analysis—-

Alright—-Even if you are not familiar with the name Martha Wash, if you have ever listened to current or 90’s dance music you know the voice. This song…is literally fantastic. Wash sounds ageless and delivers a fantastic positive message with her music. This is less dance and more mainstream, but the strength of the vocal and the addictive chorus makes it spectacular.

Destiny—-Such a brilliant vocal mastery from Martha. This is a bit deeper and more comfortable in range…but the power is still very apparent. The chorus…once again is the magic that draws you in and makes you stay for the rest of it. This is addictive as hell…delivered with practice and power. A brilliant and powerful message.

I’m Not Coming Down—-Such a gentle introduction, Wash shows a vulnerability in her vocal and lyric. The song becomes more peppy and reminds me of a David Archuleta song. This is addictive as hell…Wash maintains a comfortable Alto vocal…but the energy that flows underneath of the song is wonderful. I love this

It’s My Time—-Full of such atmosphere and emotion, the beats are not huge…the groove is missing…..but the emotion and the feeling coming out of this woman is extraordinary. I listen to the lyrics…combined with the voice and it inspires me and makes me NEED to forge on. The power of the song is driven by the voice and the message. This is just wonderful….Wash is a true legend.

I’ve Got You—-A wonderfully large arrangement of piano and strings, this track just screams emotion. Again, the lyrical message of the song is so uplifting and positive….delivered by a powerful vocal….This is wonderful. If you are looking for a dance record…try the first release…this is introspective and meant to inspire…and it does. And that voice…it is like a favorite blanket on a cold winter day.

Proud—-Stripped bare with an almost naked feel…the vocal is so present and filled with emotion. This has a wonderful melody line that becomes addictive as well as positive. This is remarkable…Martha delivers such inspiring messages…if you feel down…put this record on and you will feel better. Man, I would love to hear this woman sing in Church….the song needs no effects or beats….just the powerhouse voice of Martha.

Dream On—-How magical that Wash tackles the Aerosmith classic. The song…in feeling….fits in perfectly with the entire positive vibe of the record. The fact that this is a Tyler song does not inhibit the Master from making it her own…and indeed she does. This is a brilliant cover….Martha displays such a strong vocal…this is just fantastic.

Something Good—-Just brilliant…right from the first note. Wash phrases her words around the music and it becomes a magical wall of pure joy. I feel so uplifted listening to this. I love the tone of the voice…the music never over powers….and the purity of it all touches my soul and makes me want to dance with happiness. I really love this record.

*****out of 5