Bleachers / Gone Now

Gone Now

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

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

The Analysis—-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**** out of 5

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

Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Analysis—-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***** out of 5

 

 

Erasure / World Be Gone

World Be Gone

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

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

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

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

The Analysis—-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**** out of 5

 

Depeche Mode / Spirit [Deluxe Edition]

Spirit [Explicit]

Depeche Mode /dˌpɛʃˈmd/ are an English electronic band that formed in 1980 in Basildon, Essex. The group consists of founders Dave Gahan (lead vocals, occasional songwriter since 2005), Martin Gore (guitar, keyboards, vocals, main songwriter since 1982), and Andy Fletcher (keyboards, bass guitar). Depeche Mode released their debut album Speak & Spell in 1981, bringing the band onto the British new wave scene. Original band member Vince Clarke (keyboards, guitar, main songwriter from 1980 to 1981), left the band after the release of the album, leaving the band as a trio to record A Broken Frame, released the following year. Gore took over the lead songwriting duties and, later in 1982, Alan Wilder (keyboards, drums, bass guitar, occasional songwriter) officially joined the band to fill Clarke’s spot, establishing a line up that would continue for the next 13 years. Depeche Mode have been a trio again since 1995, when Wilder left.

The band’s last albums of the 1980s, Black Celebration and Music for the Masses, established them as a dominant force on the mainstream electronic music scene. A highlight of this era was the band’s concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, where they drew a crowd in excess of 70,000 people. In the new decade, Depeche Mode released Violator, a mainstream success. The subsequent album, Songs of Faith and Devotion, and the supporting Devotional Tour exacerbated tensions within the band to the point where Alan Wilder quit in 1995, leading to intense media and fan speculation that the band would split. Now a trio once again, the band released Ultra in 1997, recorded at the height of Gahan’s near-fatal drug abuse, Gore’s alcoholism and seizures, and Fletcher’s depression. The release of Exciter confirmed Depeche Mode’s willingness to remain together, the subsequent, and very successful, Exciter Tour being their first tour in support of an original album in eight years since the Devotional Tour, although the band had toured in 1998 to support The Singles 86–98 compilation album.

Depeche Mode have had 50 songs in the UK Singles Chart and thirteen top 10 albums in the UK chart; they have sold over 100 million records worldwide.

Spirit is the fourteenth studio album by the English electronic music band Depeche Mode, released on 17 March 2017 through Columbia Records. It was preceded by the single “Where’s the Revolution“.  Spirit is the band’s second album released under Columbia. Depeche Mode recorded it with new producer James Ford.

The Analysis—-

Going Backwards—-With trepidation and excitement, I hit the play button on a long awaited release. The opening strains are very guitar based….little in the way of swirls and synths until the song progresses. Dave Gahan enters with his trademark baritone and gives the song a very bleak feel….aided by the darker than dark lyrics and general lack of optimism. The song speaks vividly to the current times wonderfully well….a nice beginning.

Where’s The Revolution?—-The first proper release from the album, this lead off single is not much brighter in terms of musical landscape or lyrical content. The familiar Depeche Mode synth sounds are here…the gentle ‘creaking’ found in many of their songs. Gahan spreads his words out in long wails……then the song opens up with a huge anthemic chorus that inspires and begs people to pay attention to the things going on around them. This is fantastic…..the train is coming…..get on board!!!

The Worst Crime—-Keyboard based with a gentle and sad vocal at the onset, the musical landscape sounds bleak and naked. The feeling of the song is so stark and lacking any defining synth line…instead the music produces a thick, dark and lonely fog for you to dig your way out of…..not a favorite track…the plodding goes on a bit to long.

Scum—-With a bit of a livelier synth line, Dave enters with a distorted almost Industrial style vocal that is run through a processor. the lyrical content on this entire release is very dark and intense. I wonder who this song could be directed to….this entire album has huge political overtones.

You Move—-Continuing in the same vein as the rest of this release, the strains of this song lack any real musical bright spots…the sound is very layered and dark. The chorus enters and the strains of the synth are a bit livelier…and Gahan has moved into the upper register of his voice….as the track continues it does have bright poppy moments….much needed at this point.

Cover Me—-Filled with a bleak edge to it at the onset, this is airy despite the dark feeling of the lyrics. The synth effects give off a gentle puff of fog as it enters the landscape of the song…Gahan sounds sad and tortured here. The song left me feeling sad and lonely…but somehow hopeful. Really nice.

Eternal—-This comes from the fog with an almost Church like synth line…Gahan sings almost in acapella fashion as the music is so stark and naked. The sadness and intensity of the lyrics and vocals leave me in a less than bright place in my own psyche…Not a favorite track…..a bit too intense.

Poison Heart—-I like this right from the onset…..although the music is full of plodding beats and mundane synth lines, the vocal…delivered at that higher tone gives the song a brighter feel. at some points in the song, the synth lines threaten to become a bit noisy…..how magical. A really great effort from the Kings Of Gloom!

So Much Love—-Jaunty and noisy, this is a nice surprise right out of the gate, Gahan almost struts with his vocal…I can see him now! This is a fantastic track…I predict this could be the second single. The synth lines are excellent…little blips and beeps appear from nowhere and what sounds like a female vocal on the chorus gives the song a nice body. This is a favorite…really great effort.

Poorman—-This has a nice intro sound that hearkens back to the earlier days of the band. Gahan enters again with a vocal that seem a bit manipulated as do the guitars that are heard. This speaks to poverty…the daily grind of street people and the battles they face on a regular basis. This is social awareness put to music. Brilliant.

No More [This Is The Last Time]—-Although this has a dark tone to it, the airy synth line and the big chorus line gives a remarkable life to the song…this is in contention as another single I think. Gahan sounds rested and in the best voice I have heard him in a very long time. This is a truly brilliant, classic Depeche Mode track,

Fail—-Rounding out the proper release with another stark and almost naked rack, Gahan sings in a pleasant croon that tries to belie the meaning and feel of the song. This is dark and leaves you a bit hopeless….question as you do everyday the meaning of our lives…where we have been and where we might end up, Sometimes the ‘croon’ on the vocal makes me think of classic Bowie.

Cover Me [Alt Out]—-A bit more jaunty and synth laden, this is nice. The blips and the beeps that ride over the top of the foggy synth line are really nice…gives the song a much fuller body than the original. with just wisps of the vocal on the song….this is a phenomenal instrumental journey….EXCELLENT!!!

Scum [Frenetic Mix]—-again, this track becomes much livelier in a remixed form. The synth lines like quick, sharp snaps of a whip at your backside. There are times where everything falls away and the song sounds completely naked…but over-all…I love the sound of this…stark yet powerful.

Poison Heart [Tripped Mix]—-Ominous and dense with toy piano sounds introduce the song….Gahan is back with a vocal on this remix,,,sounding even more manipulated and dense then ever. This is layered with coat after coat of the blackest paint you can find. Not a favorite track…but it is pretty true to form.

Fail [Cinematic Mix]—-Full of static and magnificent darkness, the song has these little slivers of light that magically shine through the trees in the deep woods…giving direction and hope. This is wonderfully thick with sound and reverb. A masterful remix.

So Much Love [Machine Mix]—-Again, a bit of a livelier introduction than the original…the song seems stuck on a never ending loop that takes forever to begin. slowly new sounds and wisps of vocal are introduced…but overall…the song is dense in effects and lacks a true brightness. I don’t hate this…but I would pass over it during a casual listen.

**** out of 5

 

 

 

Pet Shop Boys / Elysium

Elysium

Pet Shop Boys are an English electronic pop duo, formed in London in 1981 and consisting of Neil Tennant (main vocals, keyboards, occasional guitar) and Chris Lowe (keyboards, occasional vocals).

Pet Shop Boys have sold more than 50 million records worldwide,[2] and are listed as the most successful duo in UK music history by The Guinness Book of Records.[3] Three-time Brit Award winners and six-time Grammy nominees, since 1985 they have achieved forty-two Top 30 singles and 22 Top 10 hits in the UK Singles Chart, including four UK number ones: “West End Girls” (also number one on the US Billboard Hot 100), “It’s a Sin“, an acclaimed cover of “Always on My Mind” and “Heart“. Other hit songs include a cover of “Go West“, “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” (satire of Thatcherism) and “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” in a duet with Dusty Springfield.

At the 2009 Brit Awards in London, Pet Shop Boys received an award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. In 2016, Billboard magazine named Pet Shop Boys the No. 1 Billboard Dance duo/group over the 40 years since the chart’s inception in 1976.

The Analysis—-

Leaving—-Even on the loudest and most energetic dance floor stompers produced by the Pet Shop Boys, there always remains an underlying sadness to the songs they produce. Perhaps it is the voice…perhaps the unique styling of Chris Lowe at the musical helm…..but it is always there. This release is no different. The deep hum that is carried through this track is just over whelming. Tennant delivers his talk sing style of delivery and I feel warm all over. I am a true collector of this band….owning everything I can get my hands on and having seen them live 10 times. I love this track….the beauty of the composition envelopes the voice…this is art.

Invisible—-Continuing much in the same vein, this entire release seemed to find the Boys at an introspective period. The lyrics of this track are heart breaking…so relate-able to myself personally…perhaps that is why I hide behind this keyboard. I can relate on every level with the music from this duo….they always inspire me to think….look inside and examine. This is brilliant.

Winner—-Written and preformed for and at the Olympics, there is an element to this song that makes me incredibly happy and joyous. The words and the mood of the music lifts me up and just makes me want to celebrate. Tennant and Lowe are a fined tuned machine…they seldom make a mistake…this is a prime example. There is beauty and emotion in everything.

Your Early Stuff—-Delivering a tongue in cheek British styled track, this song is humorous and catchy as hell. Perhaps this is a true rendering of some of the fans responses…after all this duo has been at it for a very long time. The delivery is still sedate and full of that low sad hum…..the beats threatening at the edges to bursts out but remain locked up in the machine. This is humorously self deprecating….I appreciate the not so seldom humor.

A Face Like That—-With a bit livelier musical landscape, this song moves at a fairly good pace. The blips and the bleeps are incredible…layered effects and double tracked vocals give the song a very big feel. The hum is there…and the humor is undeniable…but this is classic PSB…..you want to listen to it over and over. Chris Lowe has his recipe down pat.

Breathing Space—-With an actual acoustic style guitar introducing the track, Tennant enters with a mournful and melancholy vocal that takes me down a notch and just lets me sit in my sadness. There is a remarkable beauty to the song when the chorus kicks in….Tennant actually sings and delivers a lyric that makes you think…ponder and wonder how he can know so much about your life. just fantastic.

Ego Music—-Delivering classic style dance floor beats, Lowe returns us to a bit of a happier place. Neil delivers a double tracked vocal that is more upbeat and still brimming with a dark sense of humor that is always present in the Boys music. Reminding me a lot of the song The Sound Of The Atom Splitting. This is fantastic!

Hold On—-Huge in sound right from the onset, this has that nice mellow feel to it…but an underlying feeling of happiness and positive vibes. I notice that whether realizing it or not….there is a smile on my face as this song plays…that is the mark of phenomenal music. The ability to make you feel….something…positive or negative…it is a joy just to feel….this is extraordinary.

Give It A Go—-Probably my least favorite track on this release, it is too repetitive for my taste. Although……there are great things about this song as well. Tennant comes so close to actually singing it is scary. Stepping away from his talk/sing delivery he hits some notes that are impressive. The nice low hum running through the track is remarkable….Chris Lowe deserves much more credit than he gets.

Memory Of The Future—-Taking me back in time to some of the best compositions this band has ever produced, this is classic. Released on the UK version of the CD only [go figure] this has every element that speaks to me from this duo. This is superb….introspective but powerful…it makes me think…ponder and relish in life and the strides I have made. Isn’t that what this all superposed to be about. Fantastic.

Everything Means Something—-This is an odd track…to be honest, I tend to skip over this. The construction of the song is a bit abrasive and contrived. I like the chorus of the song…but even that sounds a bit hollow to me. Sometimes a favorite makes a mis step….but that is ok.

Requiem In Denim And Leopard Skin—-With a familiar musical line introducing the track, Tennant enters with a simply fantastic vocal…full of inflection…humor and gay leanings. I love the feel of the song….taking me back to the early 80’s when we really did dress that way. This is a wonderful end to the release…leaving a wonderful taste in your mouth. Just fantastic!

****3/4 out of 5

New Order / Music Complete

Music Complete

Music Complete is the tenth studio album by the English rock band New Order. It was released on 25 September 2015 by Mute Records, their debut on the label.[4] The album features guest vocals from Elly Jackson of La Roux, Iggy Pop and Brandon Flowers.

During summer 2015, New Order promoted the album through online media, at Lollapalooza Chile with “Singularity” and “Plastic“, and half-minute snippets directly on their YouTube account. It was announced that Gillian Gilbert returned to the band, but with Tom Chapman taking Peter Hook‘s bassist role.

The album itself musically is more electronic-focused than its two predecessors, and New Order’s first of new material in a decade. The cover art was designed by long-time collaborator Peter Saville, which comprises a montage of lines with four colour schemes: red, yellow, green, and blue, which varies depending on packaging.

The Analysis—-

Restless—-I smile inwardly still at the opening strains to this song and ensuing album. It was a long time coming to the fans, and in my opinion did not suffer from the lack of Hooky on the bass…it was rather predictable and old after a bit. The vocal is outstanding…..Summer sounds re-invigorated and alive and Gilbert adds to the fullness of the track with her added vocal. This is superb….a true mastery of what this band is all about.

Singularity—-With a bit of a darker sound at the onset, this swirls around your head as you wait for the song to truly open up and take shape. The underlying fast synth line keeps the song moving at a great pace. You really don’t even miss the pronounced bass line. Summer sounds so fresh and young…like the years have refused to age him. There is a great energy to this whole song….dance floor ready and reminiscent of some of the great classic tracks from NO catalog. Just wonderful!

Plastic—-With a nice quirky synth line, the song is a nice throwback to the early singles from the band when they were just discovering the power of the dance floor. The bass line kicks in and the song takes on a shifting shape that moves you to want to jump up and down and revel in the days of your youth. Bernard delivers a vocal that is a little odd….but it melds with the music wonderfully well. I love this.

Tutti Frutti—-Jaunty, jerky and damn magnificent from the very first notes!!! This has a bit of an emptier synth line at the onset, but fills out nicely by the time the vocal enters Summer delivers a intro that almost sounds disembodied…..but that is the charm of the damn thing. This is fantastic…LeRoux adds a backdrop vocal that fills out everything. This is superb. Another favorite.

People On The High Line—-With great dance floor breaks and a slight throwback synth sound, this takes shape very nicely even as it travels from one side of your brain to the other. This has a slight shuffling synth that keeps everything sounding retro but fantastically new. I love the way this plays so well even a year later….just wonderful.

Stray Dog—-Not an entirely favorite track of mine, I still never skip over this…so there must be something about it….lol. I don’t much care for the spoken word delivery of the track….but it hearkens back to those experimentation’s the band often did. There is a nice fuzzy quality to the music i rather like…..but this still plays a bit odd for me.

Academic—-This is more straight forward in the musical delivery….more of a rock song than a synth driven masterpiece….not to say this is bad…I like the propulsion…the noise of it and the way Bernard strains his voice just a bit to get that emotional quality.

Nothing But A Fool—-A bit more sedate and with an interesting almost Joy Division style guitar at the onset, this is just masterful. allowing the synth line to slowly open up, you still keep the same dark intensity of the song…and the bass line is spot on Hooky! The vocal is beautiful and classic. This swirls around your head and lands right in the center of my forehead and stays there. Not bad!!!

Unlearn This Hatred—-I really did not care for this track when I first heard it…but it has become somewhat of a slight addiction for me since then. The dance floor bass is so heavy and propulsive you have to get up and dance like hell. This may be a bit autobiographical….but none the less….this is just wonderfully fantastic.

The Game—-Moody at the onset, this track opens up as well….becoming a synth swirling jaunt that inspires stomping and dancing with wild abandon. There are nice mood shifts in the song…allowing for a frenzy and then a built in cool down. Lots going on in the underbelly of the song….just wonderful.

Superheated—-Bringing this release to a close, this is moody and swirly right at the onset….but opens up into an 80’s inspired synth fest that makes you smile and feel happy. This is a perfect tune to leave the fans with….making me so thirsty for more I almost die from thirst. This is for me, as much a masterpiece of a record as any band can make. Let’s hope we don’t wait so long for more….but I think we may have to……

****3/4 out of 5

 

 

 

 

The Human League / Anthology-A Very British Synthesizer Group [Deluxe]

Anthology - A Very British Synthesizer Group (Deluxe)

The Human League are an English electronic new wave band formed in Sheffield in 1977. After signing to Virgin Records in 1979, the band released two albums and a string of singles before attaining widespread commercial success with their third album Dare in 1981. The album contained four hit singles, including “Love Action“, “Open Your Heart“, and the UK/US number one hit “Don’t You Want Me“. The band received the Brit Award for Best British Breakthrough Act in 1982. Further hits followed throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, including “Being Boiled“, “Mirror Man“, “Fascination“, “The Lebanon“, “Human” (a US No. 1) and “Tell Me When“.

The band began as an avant-garde all-male synthesizer-based group. The only constant band member since 1977 has been vocalist and songwriter Philip Oakey. Keyboard players Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh both left the band in 1980 to form Heaven 17. Under Oakey’s leadership, the Human League then evolved into a commercially successful synthpopband with a new line-up including female vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley. Since the mid-1990s, the band has essentially been a trio of Oakey, Catherall and Sulley with various sidemen.

Since 1978, the Human League have released nine studio albums, four EPs, 30 singles and several compilation albums. They have had five albums and eight singles in the UK Top 10 and have sold more than 20 million records.

The Analysis—-

Disc One—-

Being Boiled [Fast Version]—-Now…..I will be the first to tell you that I have been a fan of this band for a very, very long time…..but in the same sentence I will tell you that I never paid much attention to the very early works of the band. I thought most of it was rudimentary and frankly unappealing. The best thing Phil ever did was to include the girls in the band and round out the sound of his deep baritone voice. Of course, this track is essential in the history of the band. If this is indeed the fast version, God help us…it is slow, plodding and dark. But the remarkable synth sounds made from such early equipment still remains. The writing was on the wall…this is not the best…but it still plays rather well.

The Dignity Of Labour Pt. 3—-This track has some shinier and brighter synth lines in it…and the pace is a bit more acceptable to me. The missing link is the shine that later material had to it. This is full of space sounds and a dense landscape that is had to grab hold of…..when the piano synth enters, the song becomes brighter…but the dredge is hard to escape from.

Empire Human State—-A nice rhythmic synth line propels this track along at a dance floor pace. The vocal is lone and distant to me….I think the best thing the band ever did was add the girls. The lyrics are shit,,,just pure nonsense and lackluster. I really don’t like this very much…this sounds like Thomas Dolby in kindergarten.

Only After Dark—-Ugh…..I really don’t care for this very much either. The redeeming think about this is the overdubs that combine the vocals  delivered on two different plains…a higher tone and the deep baritone…leading to a landscape of built in harmonies…a shape of the things to come.

Nightclubbing—-This is much in the same vein as the previous ‘singles’ that were released by this band…there is an overriding tone of synth darkness and deep dub sounds that really never appealed to me. The synth effects seem to be on a constant loop that just keep repeating themselves in a monotonous toneless manner. Phil rarely has any vocal inflections and this is really awful to me. Not ready for Nightclubbing!

Boys And Girls—-A dark atmospheric synth opens the track, the big difference is the higher tone of Oakey’s voice…giving the song a lighter feel. The double track vocal adds to the fuller more bright sound of the track…giving the band a seemingly new life and tone. This is much more accessible, and the lyrics really lean towards the crowd that was gravitating to the band….disenfranchised and stigmatized. This is nice.

The Sound Of The Crowd [Instrumental]—-I really would have preferred the version of this track with lyrics. This is not strictly an instrumental but almost like a dub version of the original. You notice the brighter synth tones almost immediately….of course there is a dark underlying tone…but the song was the future of the band…brighter….positive and damn accessible. I love this…a whole new beginning for the band.

Hard Times—-Brighter and full of classic synth sounds of the 80’s, the girls make their appearance and the band takes a dramatic turn toward higher success. The synth sounds are so contagious and the mix of Oakey and the ladies sounds almost like a totally different band. The song is huge in my head phones…taking me back to a time when New Wave was just emerging and we misfits had finally found a band to fall in love with. The slight out of tune synth line makes the track even more charming.

Love Action [I Believe In Love]—-Beginning with an odd synth line that almost meows at you, the layers of sound are fantastic through the headphones. Phil lends his trademark baritone…but the tone just seems lighter and more accessible. The main melody line that pops up in the song will stay in our head and makes me want to pull out all of my old classic vinyl from the 80’s…just fantastic.

Open Your Heart—-Hands down…no argument, my favorite track ever from The Human League. The vocal is extraordinary, the slight out of tune delivery adds to the charm of the song. The energy of the synth line bends my heart into folds. The ladies add to the mix…but it is Oakey at his finest here. This is a classic track that never received the attention it deserved. This IS The Human League!!! You can’t ignore the fantastic synth lines and the jubilant feeling that it gives off…even if the song is not really a happy one……I just love this!

Don’t You Want Me—-Perhaps this song, above all others at the time, helped to define the 80’s synth and New Wave movement. The song still sounds fresh and appealing all of these years on….with a instrumental line that is contagious and ageless. This is the band at the peak of their career…when the cross over to the US was in full swing. A great, great song….but not the best the band ever released…..just the best known.

Mirror Man—-To say that expectations were high after the success of Dare would be an understatement. The band delivered above par music with the release of the follow up EP….short in content…but full of quality singles. The die hard fans snatched it up…..MTV followed it closely…but the band found it hard to keep its place after Don’t You Want Me….for me…the songs like this from that EP were better quality and stand the test of time even better.

You Remind Me Of Gold—-The synth lines of this track are so lively and jaunty…you can’t help but fall in love with it. Phil enters with his trademark baritone and the ladies join him and give the track the warm softer element that it needs. I love all the squeaky lines of the keyboards…this is fantastic…at times the song almost becomes noisy….fantastic.

[Keep FeelingFascination [Extended]—-A shining moment in the bands career for sure. I have some remix versions of this song, where the bass level was so intense the speakers almost shut it out altogether. This is as contagious and catchy as anything the band has ever done. The opening synth lines that mimic Church organs open up to hat huge thumping bass line and the swirls of synth in the background that sneak up on you. The vocals are exquisite…the melody line….unforgettable. This is wonderful. Phil ups his vocal…the overdubs are incredible. Just a fantastic track.

The Lebanon [7″ Version]—-Politically charged at the time and very timely. This track carries a sadness to it….even though the music tries to override that sentiment. The lyrics at the time were very appropriate and could apply to anywhere in the world in this day and age that we live in. This is a pretty intense song when you listen to all the words…but loses some of the power because it is so damn pleasant.

Louise [DJ Edit]—-I really love this song…..being one of those people involved with someone from very far in my past…the song touches me…because real life reunions like this are very possible. The deep tone of the vocal is remarkable….and the combination of all the voices at certain times and certain words give the song a remarkable contagious and romantic feel. This is just a wonderful reminder that anything is possible.

Disc Two—-

Life On Your Own [Single Version]—-This is phenomenal…..the deep bass that propels that song..perfectly matched with the higher tones of the synth line. A slight odd song lies underneath of the whole thing…giving the song a weird flavor that finds a place in my heart. Phil delivers the chorus in his upper register that takes this song to a whole new level. This is just incredible…so nice to hear again.

Human [Extended Version]—-A song that really gave The Human League a second life in the mainstream listening community. Not a favorite track of mine, but it still plays very well today and catches the band at another creative high. The synth line and the bass deliver an unforgettable melody that still manages to pop up in my memory listening bank from time to time….funny….I have a 45 pressing of this song.

I Need Your Loving [DJ Edit]—-Noisy and less melodic, it appears The Human League thought they could copy Prince and deliver a funk fueled dance floor track that really falls flat for me. This is lackluster and the band sounds incredibly bored to me. This did not age well…it plays no better today than it did upon release. I really have disdain for this…..ugh!

Love Is All That Matters [DJ Edit]—-Returning to a more accessible sound somewhat with this single, the funky overtones are still evident. The melody of the song…provided by the ladies voices really give the track the familiar and friendly sound that we are accustomed to. Phil sounds a bit bored with the entire affair…so I still affirm that the main melody and success of this track was the responsibility f the girls….and they deliver very well.

Heart Like A Wheel [William Orbit Remix]—-Helping to add to the nine lives theory, this track helped to bring attention back to a foundering band that needed a new listening base. This is jaunty, happy and full of energy. The synth line is playful and full of energy. The combination of the voices throughout the entire song help to make it sound fresh and invigorating. This is a wonderful track….fantastic!

Soundtrack To A Generation [Edit]—-Odd at the onset, the jaunty almost New Order like synth line takes the song to a nice place. Phil delivers a vocal that sounds a bit strained and forced…..really not the best the band had to offer, I could think of a few other songs that could have taken this ones place. The shout B-52’s like delivery is not the band that we love…this is a waste really.

Tell Me When [Edit/Remastered 2003 ]—-This is a slick return to the shiny and accessible pop lines that the band did the best with. Phil sounds re-invigorated and the ladies are present as always. The pace of the song hearkens back to the early days of the band…this is driving and forceful…but melodic and damn catchy at the same time. The chorus of the song is the key…and it stands the test of time very well. This is wonderful.

One Man In My Heart—-This is fantastic….letting the ladies really have a spotlight on the trademark and necessary vocals that made this band huge. The melody line that runs through this song are almost Do-Wop inspired and make you feel a happiness that you can’t explain. Although Phil does add vocals…this track belongs to the ladies and they shine like an indelible star!

Filling Up With Heaven—-Not sure how I really feel about this song…..at the time of recording, technology was/is so advanced but it seems like the band is still using the same Korg’s and Moog’s that they always used. All of the mass vocals on the chorus are confusing and disjointed and the higher tone keyboards are awful. This just sounds uninspired.

Stay With Me Tonight—-Propulsive synth lines send this moving at a nice pace…then the vocal hits you . At the beginning, Phil barely sounds like himself….but the familiarity emerges. To me, this song is the complete opposite of the last entry…there is so much technology going on that it threatens to drown the band and the necessity of their voices. This is unorganized and messy.

All I Ever Wanted [Radio Edit]—-Not sure why this is here at the end of the release…perhaps a re-issue was in order for the anniversary of the band. This is classic in sound…the deep wavy bass synth is wonderful. The ladies add to the dissonant vocal from Phil…when he breaks into the higher tones it is much warmer and approachable. Nice…but why? Oh…this was from 2001……joke!

Night People [2016 Edit]—-I love this track…this is such a fun and jaunty track. The synth lines are contagious as hell….the vocal is full of echoes and memories of the old days if you will. This is just fantastic…reminding me of the material from Fascination. I love the energy, the sentiment and the mood.

Never Let Me Go—-This is the sound again of a re-invigorated band. he deep deep bass that runs through the underbelly of the song is just fantastic. The ladies lend a vocal line that sticks in your cerebellum…refusing to let go for hours after a listen. This is melodic…huge and driving. I love this…there is just life after life for this band.

Sky [Radio Edit]—-The latest proper new release from the band, this is deep and intense. The melody line that runs through the track is classic and wonderful. I like the combination of the voices and the slight overlays from Phil. This is nice…not the best of the band…but a damn valiant effort showing us that this band is still alive and well. Very Nice!

**** out of 5