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

Green Day / Revolution Radio

Revolution Radio

Revolution Radio is the twelfth studio album by American punk rock band Green Day, released on October 7, 2016, through Reprise Records. The album’s lead single, “Bang Bang“, premiered on August 11, 2016. Prior to the album’s release, its title track, “Revolution Radio”, and “Still Breathing” were also released, on September 9 and September 23, respectively. At the album’s release date, the official lyric video for “Youngblood” was uploaded on their website. On October 12, a lyric video for the song “Ordinary World” was released. On October 19, another lyric video was released: the song “Say Goodbye”. On November 7, a music video was released for “Still Breathing“.

It is Green Day’s first album since 21st Century Breakdown (2009) to be recorded as a trio after Jason White returned to being a touring member in 2016.

The album received positive reviews from music critics and earned 95,000 first-week album-equivalent units in the US to debut at number one on the Billboard 200. Revolution Radio also debuted at number one in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Canada and New Zealand.

The Analysis—-

Somewhere Now—-Kicking things off a bit introspective and insightful, Billie still has that classic young guy whine. The song picks up main stream with a melodic blast of guitars and huge drums…all the while keeping the underlying tone of complacency running through it. This is powerful…catchy and damn welcome.

Bang Bang—-Much more aggressive right out of the gate, the fuzzy guitars are replaced by a lightening speed that welcomes back the huge glory days of Green Day. Billie Joe snarls attitude and disdain and the chorus….well….built for arena shows and a maddening crowd of chants and screams. This is so amped and addictive…the best the band has sounded in years! The drums are incredible!!!

Revolution Radio—-Huge blasts of attitude driven guitars and quick drums kick off this modern day anthems that we are treated to here. The vocal seems a bit pushed away from the music a bit…but the chorus….damn. This is a huge sing a long affair that makes me miss The Ramones. This is catchy yet still maintains attitude and snarl. This is damn catchy!

Say Goodbye—-With a marching anthem tone at the onset, the song maintains the feeling throughout. Building on the tone, Billie Joe delivers a vocal that is more melodic and sing songy from the onset. For me, this has a deeper sound to the music….the bass drum much more pronounced and the huge anthem like chorus built for arenas and huge crowds. This will play really well live….I think I hear some piano here…which surprised me a bit.

Outlaws—-Full of atmosphere and an introspective attitude, this is a nice break in the order of the songs of the release. This is built on a huge chorus that begs you to scream along with it as it plays at full volume. For those who grew up with the band…this is a further step to adulthood and the changing times….which we can all embrace…regardless of our age.This track is a favorite…..brilliant!!!

Bouncing Off The Wall—-Kicking everything back into high gear, this is a modern day anthem that makes me want to jump p and just go crazy. The energy in the music is damn contagious and the vocal snarl is evident of a much younger and driven band. This is when Green Day is at their very best…when they combine hyper music with a teenage vocal that inspires kids of all ages….just fantastic!

Still Breathing—-Beginning with a simple guitar and a vocal, this track is another favorite of mine. The attitude is very evident…but the damn catchy melody overrides and makes you wander back into your youth. This is literally fantastic…..the band seems so invigorated and fresh on this release….I love this song!

Youngblood—-A jaunty guitar at the onset gives way to a more aggressive sound that ebbs and flows with the lines and the chorus. Billie Joe sounds so good on this release…his phrasing and wording is just like the older, glory days of the band…this helps to erase the disaster of the Trilogy release….this is classic Green Day….this track…..superb…full of fuzz….great drums and a vocal for the ages!

Too Dumb To Die—-Odd at the onset…everything is muted and removed from the speakers…..then the song opens up…bringing vitality and energy. The youthful feel of the music and the lyrics can put you in just about anyplace that you desire to be. The melody that Armstrong delivers with his vocal is just fantastic…this is aggressive but delivered with a message.

Troubled Times—-Although the guitar is very present at the onset, the vocal is removed until the actual chorus opens up the song with a message and an urgency to pay attention to the world around you. Armstrong delivers line after line that carries weight……because indeed…we live in troubled times…here and abroad…the message is delivered loud and clear.

Forever Now—-Coming at you with an aggressive driving guitar base, the drums are huge on this track…leading you a a few minute voyage that contains every best element of Green day….huge chorus, classic vocal, driving guitars and a drum that wont leave your head. This is rebirth at its finest!

Ordinary World—-Beginning with an ending…hmmmm. Interesting This is calm and select…..quiet with an introspection that belies adulthood and the ability to think about that which is happening around you. Green Day remains a very, very relevant band in 2016…I’m glad they weathered the storm and emerged so strong…this is fantastic….don’t make us wait so long again…please. You are needed.

****3/4 out of 5






Blink -182 / California


California is the seventh studio album by American rock band Blink-182, released on July 1, 2016 through BMG. Produced by John Feldmann, it is the first album by the band to feature vocalist/guitarist Matt Skiba, who replaced former member Tom DeLonge. After touring and releasing the band’s sixth album Neighborhoods (2011), it became difficult for the trio to record new material, due to DeLonge’s various projects. After disagreements, the remaining members of the group—vocalist/bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker—sought separation from DeLonge and recruited Skiba, best known as the frontman of rock band Alkaline Trio, in his place.

The album was recorded at Foxy Studios between January and March 2016 with Feldmann. He was the group’s first new producer since longtime collaborator Jerry Finn. Prior to his involvement, the trio began writing together in September 2015 and completed dozens of songs. They decided to shelve them upon working with Feldmann to start fresh, and they proceeded to record another 28 songs; in all, the group recorded upwards of 50. The band, as well as Feldmann, would regularly spend 18 hours in the studio a day, aiming to start and complete multiple songs in that timeframe. The album’s title comes from the band’s home state of California, and its artwork was illustrated by the street artist D*Face.

The album debuted at number one in the US and several other countries, and was the group’s first domestic chart-topper in 15 years, and their first ever in the UK. In addition, its lead single, “Bored to Death“, became the group’s first number one single on any chart in a decade. California received mostly positive reviews from music critics, who complimented its throwback sound. The band have supported the album with a large headlining tour in North America and Europe alongside A Day to Remember, the All-American Rejects, and All Time Low.

The Analysis—-

Cynical—-I really was a bit apprehensive as to my expectations upon this release…but my fears have been quickly quashed at the first listen. This is melodic, contagious and seems like the same band that was always there. The vocal difference is only slightly different….but the mood and the power are the same as always…a fantastic way to kick off the release. Wonder what this song is about….hmmm?

Bored To Death—-The lead off single to this release, you notice the sound is not that different than Tom and Angel And Airwaves. The mood is pensive…layered and textured. The vocal is just outstanding…this is the blink I love. The contagious quality of the song is undeniable. This is superb. Powerful….melodic and intense.

She’s Out Of Her Mind—-A really nice bass line leads off the track but the vocal emerges sounding bright and melodic. I love the catchiness of every song….the pace is a bit slower…but the power from this trio is so damn infectious. This song has a bright, sunny feel to it that makes me long for warm sunny days and carefree afternoons just blasting music. Damn good!

Los Angeles—-With a slight jangly intro, the vocal comes at you from all directions…causing me some ear confusion. The chorus is of course a powerful and catchy affair….sucking you into the melody of the song. I just am not really crazy for the dual vocals that come from all directions….the song seems a bit confusing to me. Not a throwaway by any means though. The bridge is awesome!!!

Sober—-A huge drum introduces the song and the vocal reminds me of the old days…with lots of ‘uh’s’ and ‘nah nah’s’. The vocal is great….the chorus a huge sing a long affair that arenas will scream loud and clear back to the band. This is really nice….I like the new vocal direction…the whine has left the building.

Built This Pool—-Aggressive and fast from the onset…..this interlude is rather silly an unnecessary……onward…..

No Future—-Scaled down and a bit morose with Travis delivering a rather monotonous vocal at the onset, the chorus opens up the song and the vocal trade-off of vocals make the song sound huge and arena made. This is nice…but the sound seems a little thin….until the chorus and of course Travis…who continues to beat the hell out of his drums.Such a huge sing a long chorus!!!

Home Is Such A Lonely Place—-Slowing things way down and injecting a lot of atmosphere, this is damn catchy and touching. I love the slower version of this band when it is put in the right spot….adding some variety on the record and breaking it up a bit. I always say…song placement is everything. To me this is about perfect. I love the dual vocal…adding texture and a built in melody. Fantastic.

King Of The Weekend—-Big trademark drums and a introduction vocal from Matt builds the song up to a huge fast chorus that is punk infused with just enough of a pop element to appeal to everyone. Matt is a great vocal replacement….it seems hard to imagine Tom singing these songs…..this is catchy and damn infectious.

Teenage Satellites—-Powerful guitars yet a subtle melancholy vocal here…..then the chorus hits you with that undeniable Blink melody that begs for a DeLonge whine…lol. This is fantastic….a certain sunny element that makes you want to pull out all the old records and give them all a listen one after the other. Just a great song that conjures up many memories from its sound alone.

Left Alone—-A bit atmospheric at the onset, the bass guitar and drums lead off the song…and again, we are a bit confused by the sound of the song. The vocal seems confused to me…even the chorus…which is damn contagious seems a little under-whelming. I don’t hate this…but the mood of the song just seems very different.

Rabbit Hole—-Returning to a more hyper kinetic version of the band, this song has a great pace and delivery. The energy is amped all the way up and the drums control the entire pace of everything. There are some nice guitar squeals and a vocal trade off that really works here. This is classic stuff….fast…melodic and bright!

San Diego—-A nice jangly guitar introduces another slowed down track……the vocal a bit sad and mellow…until Matt enters and seems to magically amp up the song. This is another of those damn catchy arena ready songs that begs the audience to participate. I love the direction of the band….sounding fresh and re-invigorated but still maintain a true sound that they almost established for so many other bands.

The Only Thing That Matters—-A nice bass line opens the track and then Travis emerges with his hyper drums and takes the song off on a rip. The vocals are nice but a bit disjointed…the lyrics are great…lots of euphemisms. The band sounds so tight and rehearsed…..I really love this record!!!

California—-A lonely and introspective vocal begins the track….with swirls of music and an obvious lack of drums leave the song a bit empty for me. The mood is a bit dark and intense…the references on this record are remarkable….The Cure….wearing black…Marilyn Manson…etc….this is great.

Bohemian Rhapsody—-Odd……ok……whatever.

****3/4 out of 5