Archive for July, 2009

The Smiths/Meat Is Murder

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , on 310000007-04:00 12 by marky7235

The Smiths were an English Rock Band from Manchester, England. The bands formation falls in the year 1982, when the youth of Britain were growing tired of the new-wave movement of the new decade. The band is huge in influence and style, becoming one of the most important bands to record in the 1980’s. Featuring the lush and sometimes erratic guitar of Johnny Marr and the imaginative and beautiful vocals of Morrissey, the band grew huge in the UK and developed a large cult following in the United States. Released in 1985, this was the only Smiths release to reach the top chart position of #1. Releasing only 4 epic releases, the band went their separate ways in 1987…rather abruptly!!! Since the split, Morrissey has enjoyed a huge solo career…in Indie terms. Marr has worked with several different bands as a session musician and Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce successfully sued Morrissey for royalty payments. This is my very favorite Smiths release and is very near and dear to my heart.

The Headmaster Ritual—-Beginning from the first note with a familiar Marr guitar sound, the song has a slight rock-a-billy feel to it that is very comfortable and fitting for Morrissey’s sublime and subtle lyrical delivery. This man had a powerful way about him and it was all on display every time he opened his mouth. The tone of the delivery is fantastic and Stephan delivers some vocal histrionics that are history making. Absolute and complete genius.

Rusholme Ruffians—-With great crowd noise effects and a startling fantastic bass line, Morrissey delivers a vocal that is so full of clarity and descriptive lyrics that your soul become part of the song. This is classic and was never quite to be repeated to this magnificent effect. Morrissey has a self-deprecating manner that we can all enjoy from time to time….some of us more often than others.

I Want The One I Can’t Have—-Perhaps on my top 5 list of favorite Smiths songs, this is an ode that we can all relate to….we have all been there right……? The song begins at a great pace with Morrissey delivering some of the greatest vocals and lyrics of his career. This song has an edge of humor and a sense of urgency and pain all at the same time. Morrissey never disappoints when it comes to the subject of rejection, and this tome is no exception. Kudos to the King Of Gloom for a sardonic sense of humor.

What She Said—-Again, a great musical sound scape that is full of driving rock-a-billy that Morrissey continues to visit to this day. This song is masterful even as an instrumental…when Morrissey adds a vocal that is slight in mutation but heavy in emotive ability it becomes a classic masterpiece.

That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore—-The only song from this release to be issued as a single, it only hit the top 50 in the UK. Not a favorite of mine, but the morbidity and subtle humor are attractive to me. It is my goal to die with a smile on my face just because the song encourages me to do so.

How Soon Is Now?—-Originally released as a B-side and later added to future issues of this CD, this is perhaps the best known and loved song of The Smith’s career. Featuring a vocal that is wrenching and relatable, the music is a heavily overdubbed fanfare of guitar experimentation. I have heard this song thousands of times and love it more every time I have heard it. When Morrissey exclaims that “…..I am human and I need to be loved….” you understand and feel this sentiment. One of the best songs ever recorded!

Nowhere Fast—-Again, full of British humor and a slight rock-a-billy musical track, the entire atmosphere of the song is full of sarcasm and bite. This all fits the Morrissey schedule perfectly and he pens lyrics that are biting and delivered with a sense of humor. Never doubt the sincerity of Morrissey, he means ever word he says…despite the sarcasm. When Morrissey sings….”….when I think about life and I think about death, neither one particularly appeals to me…..” you feel his aim is true.

Well I Wonder—-With a more level tone of sedation and introspection, Morrissey seems most comfortable in this space. This release is 22 years old and somehow manages to sound incredibly fresh and new even as I listen to it today…Morrissey, once he gets in your soul will never leave you and this listen just brings the spirit back more alive than ever. When he manages to hit those magnificent falsetto levels, it sends chills down your spine.

Barbarism Begins At Home—-A rally againt corporal punishment, Morrissey makes it sound urgent and important. The music is lush and the tone of the guitars are classic Marr. Morrissey manages to let loose with some yelps that are strangely erotic and feminine…this is classic and a favorite of mine. 

Meat Is Murder—-Lush and heavily layered with sounds of farm animals and lyrics full of blood and disdain for red meat, Morrissey made his position clear. The song has a lasting and vivid effect on your brain that stays with you for a very long time. The guitar sound is heavily layered and full of stringed emotion. A stand out track and a fantastic way to end a release that would reside in history books forever.

***** out of 5

Echo & The Bunnymen/What Are You Going To Do With Your Life?

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , on 310000007-04:00 12 by marky7235

Echo & The Bunnymen are an influential post-Punk band formed in Liverpool. The band began it’s journey in 1979. Influential and heralded in the Goth community and cemented in the Shoe-gaze movement, the band has undergone turmoil and numerous line-up changes. The band split in 1988, allowing times for solo projects and side bands. The band re-organized in 1997 and continue to record and tour in 2009. This release, dropped in 1999, was the band’s 8th of 11 studio albums. Echo & The Bunnymen are scheduled to issue a new release in October 2009.

What Are You Going To Do With Your Life?—-This is not the Echo of old, gone are the sometimes abrasive guitars and in it’s place is a well groomed troopof aging men trying to get in touch with life ‘at this juncture. The result is absolutely fantastic. Ian delivers a vocal that is crisp and full of sadness, while guitarist Seargeant strums a gentle song that touches your heart and makes you ask yourself the same question over and over. I love Ian’s masterful answer “…..Gonna Be Me….”……fantastic!!! SIGH!

Rust—-Falling in the same vein of the earlier song, the musical landscape is a slight more bit electric, with a nice drum and bass line. Ian delivers a vocal that just makes you think about life and where you are at in this current age. The sound of the song is heavy in layers of guitar, drums and strings…it actually soars at times and makes you look to the sky for the sun. Brilliant!!!

Get In The Car—-Wow, masterfulhorns and a gentle guitar delivery adds atmosphere and mood to Ian as he delivers a vocal that permeates your very soul. The emotion and the wonderful tone mix with the horns and high hats of the drums to a masterful effect. I have been an Echo fan for quite sometime….this is by far my favorite release from them.

Baby Rain—-With a more Alternative sound to the music, the vocal takes you back to the pouty lip days of old. The music builds to a nice tempo and then quietly sets you back down on a feather pillow waiting for the thud that you expected. Ian has a voice that is classic and fresh at the same time and the result is just pure beauty.

History Chimes—-With a masterful piano delivery, the song is stripped of all other sound except the voice working in tandem with the piano. this is a surprisingly wonderful delivery. This song will wrench your heart out and leave you weeping on the floor. Ian allows his voice to drop to lower registers that give the song a whole mood of it’s own. This is freakin’ masterful!!!

Lost On You—-Beginning with much more momentum than previous tracks, this will transport you to the glory days of The Bunnymen. This is a continued saga of genius as the band produces a track that will stand up next to anything they have done in the past. This is a nice jangly, shoe gaze affair that pleases and leaves you panting for more.

Morning Sun—-Returning to more serene and intense sound, the band still delivers the classic sound that we expect. Ian is in great voice throughout this entire release and it transports you back to days gone by and you never realize that we have all progressed and aged. The sound is, well, timeless I guess and this release solidifies that theory.

When It All Blows Over—-More horns introduce this song and mixed with the gentle guitar it has an incredible effect. The lyrics are sad and intense and makes you think about your life, no matter what stage you are in. Ian delivers a sound that is heavy and emotional. This is incredibly good stuff and I recommend this release to any fan or someone who wants to be introduced to a great band. Oh…..did I mention the flute?

Fools Like Us—-The band closes out this exceptional release with a heavily orchestrated opus that brings us back to the same place we were when we started…full of thought and contemplation. This is beauty and should be heard by everyone. This is a fine return to form and only a promise of the two great releases that came after this. Wonderful and filled with feeling.

***** out of 5

Portugal. The Man/Censored Colors

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , on 310000007-04:00 12 by marky7235

Portugal. The Man are an American Rock Band from Wasilla, Alaska. Formed in 2004, the band has Indie roots but vary release to release in sound and instrumentation. Censored Colors was released in 2008, and the band released a new CD on July 21, 2009….which I will get to later.

Part I: The Colors

Lay Me Back Down—-Beginning with a sound that reminds me of the glorious 70’s rock scene, the vocal enters with an even more vintage sound. The music is huge and presented on a large level. The keyboard interludes make me think of the best Queen songs. The track is a journey in itself as it travels between subtle soft beauty and large crashing sounds…this is fantastic.

Colors—-Again, presenting a fantastic retro sound, the guitars are like vintage Dave Gilmour. The vocal track is a dreamy affair, with a soft and digestible presentation. The band adds strings to the song and it helps to bring the vocal to even more life. A little too ‘jam-oriented’ for me, but pleasant none the less.

And I—-With an odd, quiet intro….the vocal comes in and is a beautiful affair. Reminding me at times of Lennon, the lyrics are vivid and heart-aching. This is a really pretty, introspective track that still maintains that wonderful 70’s overtone. As the song comes more to life, it becomes even larger with the addition of many more instruments. The vocal is at times heavily layered but manages to maintain it’s mood and mystery.

Salt—-A simple introduction that ushers in the unique vocal styling of this band. The song moves from tempo to tempo, but manages to still remain cemented in the original tone. This is nice, but not a favorite.

Created—-Another very gentle introduction and haunting beautiful vocal. The song is so bare you can pick up every little sound in the back mix. The chorus is a thing of beauty and is not to be missed. This is nice and without definition…I love that!!

Out And In And In And Out—-Acoustic in sound, yet sounding electric!! The vocal is a crystal clear journey of imagery and word play. It is rare these days to be able to pick up every line of the lyrics, but this song offers that. The whole affair is a thing of beauty.

Intermission:

A dreamy affair full of heavily layered instrumentation that gives the song a masterful ambient sound. Nicely Done!

Part II: The Twenty Five

New Orleans: Sounding exactly as you would expect, the song infuses some Louisiana blues with the dreamy quality of the band’s delivery. The vocal is so clear and emotive, you can easily allow yourself to drift off in a pleasant daydream.

Never Pleased—-Seemingly a bit more experimental in sound, the music is huge with great production. The vocal is quite aggressive and loud with a bitter edge. The song travels on for a long time…this tends to get on my nerves….yes, I’m one of the few people in the world who did not like The Grateful Dead!!

Sit Back And Dream—-The song, segued with the previous track seems to barely miss a step and continues in a more aggressive vocal style that is almost hollering. The emotion is raw and real and that carries the song forward, as the music gets louder and louder and segues into….

Hard Times And Our Times—-The song has a slight blues/soul tone to it and the vocal is less abrasive. The song falls into a comfortable jam mode, and the pace is comfortable. The added horns tend to get on my nerves somewhat but it is an alright track. The chorus manages a hook that will hibernate in your brain cells for some time.

All Mine—-Reminding me once again of The Wall era Pink Floyd, the song is a floaty affair that sucks you into the dreamy, acoustic mood. The vocal borders on beautiful….the sounds are so nicely layered it is like a CD in itself.

1989—-A mystical magical affair that comes to a complete stop at times and then picks back up with a single chord. The vocal is freakin” wonderful and not to be missed. This is a great mix of modern rock and vintage sounds that are just not found anymore. Really Great!!!

Our Way—-Magically mixed with the outro of the previous song, this is a seamless journey of exquisite measure. The sound in masterful…there are many things going on at the same time…the vocal remains clear and understandable. A nice end to an interesting release.

*** out of 5

A Life Less Lived/The Goth Box Part III

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on 300000007-04:00 12 by marky7235

Part III of the box set…….

Disc III:

Rain [The Cult]—-Finalling settling on a name and a musical direction, this song finds The Cult finally finding a place that they could call their own…abandoning almost all of the movements elements that we found attractive and becoming some Alt-Rock Demi God ensemble. But, that is acceptable…they avoided the complete sellout…only Ian did that!!!!

Away [The Bolshoi]—-A very young band at the time of this recording, the promise and hunger for acceptance were still at the forefront of this band. With huge leanings to bands that would break huge with one hit wonders in the 80’s, this band delivered music that was clear and untarnished by fame but reeked of urgency and thirst for fame. Wonderful and always a pleasant listen.

Watch Without Pain [Rubicon]—-Formed in 1991 and finished by 1995, this release displays the magic elements of the band at their best. The sound is sedate and gentle, the guitar is so understated that we are left wondering where the bass is…once the song opens with the chorus, we are happy and contented with the gloom and moodiness of a band that was not destined to be together.

Pagan Lovesong [Virgin Prunes]—-Featuring exiled guitarist and brother of The Edge [U2], one can only imagine the consequences if he would have stayed in the band. This song is a magnificent cross between punk/goth cultures that would usher in the new wave of music that was to come. The musical landscape is abrasive and noisy, the vocal is full of snot and attitude….all of these things work perfectly to produce a classic post-goth masterpiece.

Morning Dew [Einstenzende Neubauten]—-Responsible for ushering in the European wave of Industrial Metal, this single finds the band at a relatively sedate and introspective place in their career. The noise of the future is missing and the urgency and anger of the vocal is no where to be found…still, this is a great example that allows listeners to follow the evolution of a great band.

Hamburger Lady [Throbbing Gristle]—-As the Goth scene began to change, so did the bands and their sounds….Throbbing Gristle brought their avant garde sounds and noise scape’s to the public via graphic stage shows and horrifying, yet fascinating pieces of art. This was the beginning of the noise-core scene that would develop into the Industrial movement. Genesis P-Orridge remains a genius without compare even today as the band recently reformed and decided to tour. Remarkable and unforgettable.

To Blame [Kommunity FX]—-Actually a Los Angeles outfit, this band never really caught on in the US because of the gloom and doom label that followed it around this country. The guitars on this release are masterful and the tempo of the song is reminiscent of many great 80’s bands. The vocal is lackluster and perhaps the downfall of this incredible musical ensemble. It would have been interesting if…….

Melody Lee [The Damned]—-Formed in 1979, as a punk rock band, the band floundered, broke up, reunited, broke up etc…..until in 1995 the band reunited and finally stayed a unit and continued to record and tour to this day. This song has a definite punk rock edge to it that still fits in the Goth realm with ease. The vocal delivery is orgasmic and the music, although fast, still relies on a heavy Goth bassline. Fantastic!!!!

Romeo’s Distress [Christian Death]—-Formed in California in 1979 by a Drag Queen, Christian Death made their mark by combining the best punk elements with the bass line of Goth aficionados and managed to produce a cross over sensation. The band is epic in material released and quality of recordings…this is exquisite.

Party Time [45 Grave]—-Another California band that delved into a more death/glam metal than the traditional sounds of goth, the song is disturbing and harrowing as it details a saga of child abuse and lost innocence. The song is somewhat abrasive yet very powerful…especially with the female vocal….magnificent dam nit!!!

Kiss [London After Midnight]—-Yet another Los Angeles band that by all accounts was huge in the post-Goth scene of California in the late 80’s/early 90’s. This song is exquisite and not much different from the things that bands like echo and The Mission UK went on to produce. This is dense in sound and the vocal is incredibly clear and understandable. Classic!!!!

Dieche [Sex Gang Children]—-An interesting note….this was Boy George’s first choice for a band name when they began to record but the label persuaded him to choose something different. Instead, we are blessed with a band that has originality and dense sound that hearkens back to the glory days of Goth. The song has many layers and they flow to the front and then retreat to the back in a masterful way. This is a wonderful noisy adventure into the land of scourge and disdain.

Assimilate [Skinny Puppy]—-Continuing to track the phenomenon as Goth developed into a more angry Industrial Metal, Skinny Puppy introduced the world to a much noisier interpretation of gloom and darkness. This was scorn and hurt that you could dance and trance to. A brilliant example of the evolution of music, this is a classic and unforgettable song. The German intricacies make us thirst for more and it was soon to follow.

Halloween [The Misfits]—-Combining the best elements of punk and goth, The Misfits were a ground breaking Ca. band that specialized in the less than 2 minute single and the unmistakable vocal of Glenn Danzig. Much more Punk than Goth, some would argue the difference…all I know…great song by a remarkable band.

Tomorrow’s World [Killing Joke]—-Mostly formulated in Art-Rock theme’s, it is easy to see the attraction to those in the community. The music is incredible in accessibility and tone, the pace is right in line with classic goth rock predecessor. The bass heavy guitar delivery reminds of the early recordings of Joy Division and the music is at times as erratic as the music

So What [Ministry]—-Continuing to develop the turn from heavy doom ladden rock to a noisier more aggressive movement, Ministry helped to usher in the age of Industrial Metal without fan fare or acclaim. The band, paying tribute to the Goth movement in the early days, cemented the Industrial movement in the US single handily and then graciously handed off the torch to NIN. This is a great example of the cross section of the road as music was changing the face of history.

The Hanging Garden [AFI]—-Who knew…..perhaps the real fans. The band to this day, still relies heavily on some of the Goth leanings from which it came. If you look at the appearance, listen to the chord shifts in the music and the overall tempo of the music is is much more Goth than the aforementioned EMO movement of the new decade. Rock on…this is fabulous.

****1/2 out of 5

A Life Less Lived/The Goth Box Part II

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on 300000007-04:00 12 by marky7235

The Box Set review continues with Part II

Disc II:

The Weeping Song [Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds]—-After departing The Birthday Party, Nick Cave embarked on a solo career that would bring scorn and worldwide acclaim, bordering on pop stardom. The song carries the trademark Cave baritone and the overtly morose attitude. The music is heavily layered and pleasant with a strong percussive tone. Beautiful and haunting.

Exterminating Angel [The Creatures]—-A side project of vocalist Siouxsie Sioux and her then husband/drummer Budgie, The Creatures manages to build quite a following despite their erratic output of new material. The output is fairly artsy and experimental in sound although Siouxsie manages to fit in this schism very nicely. The entire composition has a very shoe-gazer type of dance beat that falls right into my comfort zone. Sioux delivers a fantastic video that borders on manic at times…awesome!

God’s Zoo [Death Cult]—-A further incarnation of the soon to be The Cult, the name changes of the band was simply brought about by marketing people who knew they had something great but could not market it with it’s current name to the mainstream. The band still maintained it’s more accessible dance/goth beat that fit into the community but Astbury displays a more practised vocal that shows real development. At times the guitars shine through and show the promise of the huge things to come….but at this instant, they were still ours.

Heartache [Gene Loves Jezebel]—-Although this twin brother fronted band would go on to score big singles in the new wave era of music, this single shows the direction they were travelling on upon it’s inception. The vocal is sublime and damn near perfect…the music is a slower paced somewhat machine oriented romp through a comfortable level of seriousness. The chorus comes alive and shows us only a glimpse of what was to come, but at the time this was classic.

I Go Crazy [Flesh For Lulu]—-I have a great copy of this single on 12″ vinyl…I have always loved this release, but never quite equated it to the Goth movement. This release is pure Euro-pop heaven, and I question why it is included here, but it is a grand listen and I won’t complain. Wow, even listening now…you forget some of the gems of the 80’s…if you are able,,,look this song up on my recommendation…not that it means much.

Cuts You Up [Peter Murphy]—-I don’t need to travel through the branches of the family tree if you are reading this….Murphy is a founding father of this movement and continues to release quality material till this day. This solo release was monumental and ground breaking. For me it became a theme song and I looked to Murphy before I found Morrissey. But, make no doubt, they share the same lineage and I adore both of them.

Open Your Eyes [The Lords Of The New Church]—-Featuring members of punk rock bands The Damned/Dead Boys and Sham 69, the band was never meant to land in the land of Goth Kids, but did none the less. And, I might add, they fit in very well. The sentiment and the carry through is well intentioned and delivered. Although the band borders on dance oriented Goth, the sentiment is real and heartfelt. This is very nice.

Heaven Is Waiting [The Danse Society]—-Also hailing from the Goth mecca of Leeds, this band was a shortlived, but affectionate member of the Goth movement. The band has a very dance oriented musical landscape, but the vocal carries all the best elements of the community. The atmospheric shifts of the song are nice touches and the layered sound gives the entire track a much heavier sound.

All My Colours [Echo & The Bunnymen]—-Never fitting in comfortably in this genre, the stars had far greater things in store for The Bunnymen. Little did they know they would achieve worldwide acclaim and adoration from songs that they constructed when we were looking for something new. From the onset, the band had elements that were conducive to the community, mainly stripped effects and clear vocal tales of disdain and alienation. This is a masterful single and only hints at the momentum the band would gain.

Don’t Fall [The Chameleons UK]—-I’ll admit, I don’t know and can’t find much info about this band…the sound is somewhat American to me and the music edges on pop rather than the key elements of Goth. I don;t dislike this release…there is just nothing that really set it apart…perhaps that is why they were quite short-lived.

Dreamland [The Rose Of Avalanche]—-Also hailing from the goth mecca Leeds, the band even took it’s name from The Sisters Of Mercy’s drum machine. The band has heavy New York influences in it’s sound….prescribing more to the punk mentality. This is a nice excursion and not a waste, but there was better out there at the time. 

Fall [The Jesus And Mary Chain]—-Loosely fitting into this community, The Chain always seemed more British avant-garde to me than actual Goth. The entire atmosphere of the band, although dark, was more experimental.This particular track is quite noisy and layered far beyond any self-respecting Goth band would allow. This is angry, dark and noisy….just the way I like it.

Coming Down Fast [Daniel Ash]—-A former member of Bauhaus and the mega Love And Rockets, Ash delivered a single release that hearkened back to the glory days of the movement. The song is dark and heavily layered with a certain atmosphere that reminds you of the early days. Ash delivers a masterpiece!!!

Muscoviet Mosquitto [Clan Of Xymox]—-Hailing from the Netherlands, this band was that country’s largest import…..following in the veins of many established Goth Bands, the song has strong Cure elements as well as a heavy bass line reminiscent of classic Joy Division. Great little song…..I need to investigate and hear more from this band.

Incubus Succubus II [Xmal Deutschland]—-Hailing from Germany, this band brought a heavier and noisier sound to the Goth danceflloors. The vocal is so reminiscent od Siouxsie, you would find it confusing if you were not in the know. The musical track is faster than expected and the tone of the vocal is urgent and almost angry. This is great and I’m really glad that they included it on this release.

Starblood [Cranes]—-I’ve always considered The Cranes to be more of a noise0core band than anything else, the band set the ground work for such bands as My Bloody Valentine. This song is no exception, except that it does contain certain key elements attractive to the community…mainly swirling introspective vocals, a bass heavy delivery and layers and layers of sound.

Ardera Sempre [Miranda Sex Garden]—-Much more spacey and though provoking than many bands in the genre at this time, the band always managed to reflect it’s roots in England and perhaps the post-Goth movement. This music is heavily machimne generated and super produced. The mood and atmosphere swirl upon your head and just manages to set you up for the song that is to follow…..as a side note, as this song develops in my ear…this is not much different than the modern day genius of Nightwish.

Blood Bitch [Cocteau Twins]—-This band has always been an acquired taste, and I must say that I have not investigated them enough. The sound is layers upon layers of machine generated music that whets my palate, the vocal is serene and heart warming at times. The course of the song does NOT lead me down the goth path, but i can understand how the sound of this could be attractive to people living in this community.

The Arcane [Dead Can Dance]—-With a bass line that is so familiar and a vocal styling that fit well into the sty;lings of this community, the band was not for long in this movement….they went on to explore a more New Age styling, but this song captures them at the very best time. This song is a moody, atmospheric journey that leaves you feeling comfortable rather than devastated and helps you to move on to the next ‘issue’….very nice.

****1/2 out of 5

A Life Less Lived/The Goth Box Part I

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on 300000007-04:00 12 by marky7235

The Gothic Movement has been defined as a Contemporary Subculture that is found in many countries throughout the world. The movement began in the early 80’s from the ashes of the post-punk movement of the late 70’s. The Goth Movement features unique and fascinating tastes in clothing, music, aesthetics and overall fashion. The ‘movement’ is indeed a world of it’s own which still lives today and features primarily black attire, make-up and hair and a musical delivery that tends to deal with real life situations and feelings of alienation and disdain for a society that continues to exclude certain members from certain parts of it. The following review is a encapsulation of the 3-Disc set released in 2007.

Disc 1:

Dead Souls [Joy Division]—-Perhaps the premier band in the afore mentioned ‘movement’, most any one reading this review is far, far familiar with them. We all know of the meteoric rise of the band, the ensuing promise of the talent and the untimely demise of vocalist Ian Curtis. All of that aside….the song speaks for itself. Wrapped in heavy blankets of solace and sadness, the song carries the familiar bass line of Peter Hook to monumental heights. The movement of the song is stellar and the vocal of Curtis is as painful and full of emotion as anything he ever produced. A fantastic band…a fantastic song. A great introduction to the goth ‘movement’.

Charlotte Sometimes [The Cure]—-In 2009, this band certainly earns the title ‘Godfathers’ of the movement. Still producing stellar goth driven material, The Cure are also the most well known and visible members of this community…perhaps because of their longevity, but more for the quality of the output of material. This song is heavily layered and almost dreamy. Robert Smith delivers a vocal that is full of sadness and heaviness. The music moves along nicely but at a slower more intricate pace. This is classic and marvelous!!!

She’s In Parties [Bauhaus]—-Next to Joy Division, perhaps the most important and influential bands in this community. Vocalist Peter Murphy delivers vocals that are at times too pleasant, at other times dark and verging on insanity. The music is more stripped down and leans on the post-punk movement heavily at times. A really great song and hard to believe this was released while the band was crumbling.

Temple Of Love [The Sisters Of Mercy]—-Extreme in influence and setting the ‘tone’ of the movement, The Sisters were short lived. It is important to mention that from the ashes of this band came influential and immensely popular post-goth band The Mission also known as The Mission UK. The vocal delivery is very dense and at times monotone….meanwhile, the musical tempo far exceeds the tonal pace. When the chorus erupts, the sound is huge and all encompassing. The vocal seems second or third on the mix level and it works to a masterful effect.

Christian Says [Tones On Tail]—-Evolving around member of Bauhaus, the band was never meant to be a serious project. The band released several singles and one full-length after the demise of Bauhaus and just before the formation of Love And Rockets. The song as times has a Mid-Eastern flair to it that is quite comforting. The vocal is abrasive and rough, but the musical landscape creates a darn catchy song.

Mutiny In Heaven [The Birthday Party]—-Only active for a few years, this Australian band was formed out of the ashes of punk band Boys Next Door . The sound makes this obvious…I really do not care for this track. The vocal is really difficult to adapt to, and the music just seems to be all over the place.

Spellbound [Siouxsie And The Banshees]—-And here we have the ‘Godmother’ of the goth movement. Bringing a sometimes abrasive and screaming vocal, at other times as gentle as a Mother bathing her baby, Siouxsie Sioux has always delivered a real and meaningful vocal. The band is still active today, and have spawned solo releases and the band The Creatures. The musical landscape is made of nicely almost acoustic guitars and a drum that seems to be far up in the mix of the song. Sioux delivers a vocal that is well……spellbinding. Stellar.

Fatman [The Southern Death Cult]—-This is pre Death Cult and later the mega selling The Cult. The music has a much more dreamy and atmospheric feel to it. Far different from what the band would eventually become. Astbury delivers a vocal that even though at times falters somewhat just shows the promise of things to come. The band has always had it’s unique sound, and this is where it all started.

Mirror People [Love And Rockets]—-Born from the ashes of afore mentioned Bauhaus, the band developed a rampant fan base and did quite well in the pre-grunge British Invasion that happened in the late 80’s and early nineties. The vocal is almost too pleasant for this genre….we expect a certain morbidity in tone….but overall, this song could have charted with more airplay.

Power [Fields Of The Nephilim]—-Nephilim were an Old Testament race of giants, and the whole concept of this band dealt largely with religious and historical subject….sometimes Nordic in nature also. The music is a slight rock-a-billy feel and the vocal is almost exaggerated to fit in with the genre. Interesting.

Now I’m Feeling Zombified [Alien Sex Fiend]—-Almost more of an artistic display than a Goth contender, the band did have elements of the Goth Community Requirements involved in it’s message. Especially with songs like this…although the band preferred to follow in the artistic direction of bands like Throbbing Gristle

Snake Dance [The March Violets]—-Hailing from Leeds, where much of the Goth movement started, the song is a sludgy affair. Although the song has a dark edge to it, the music is almost too electronic and machine generated. Perhaps the beginning of the whole Industrial element started here. The song is slight in noise and sparse in intense vocals, but the feeling is genuine.

Walking On Your Hands [Red Lorry Yellow Lorry]—-Also from Leeds, this band was short lived yet very influential in and around the movement. The music is a pleasant almost post-punk affair and the vocal is reminiscent of the bands coming from the area at the time. This song is very accessible to the casual listener and the influences on the band are clear.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [Specimen]—-The founders of the legendary British Goth club The Batcave, The Specimen were very theatrical and heavily influential. The sound is heavily layered and sports a slight rock-a-billy sound to it. The vocal is somewhat unattractive but just what the movement required. The band was shortived. disbanding in 1985.

Wasteland [The Mission UK]—-Still to this day, one of my very favorite bands. The Mission, or Mission UK were born of the ashes of The Sisters Of Mercy, the sound reeks of the influence of The Sisters. The music and the vocal have strong elements of the British movement of New Romanticism. The music is very danceableand the vocal is not as dark or layered and the content is meant to be heavy, but comes across as rather contrived.

The Grip Of Love [Ghost Dance]—-Featuring member of a number of bands in hiatus or on the verge of breaking up, this super-group of sorts made few but impacting releases. The female vocals are damn pleasant and edge on the new wave movement that was to come a few years later. The song features of all things a subtle tambourine that is so far up in the mix you can’t miss it and at the same time can’t live without.

His Box [Dali’s Car]—-This is a relationship between Bauhaus vocalist Peter Murphy and the members of Japan. The result is a haunting almost poppy excursion into the true feelings of goth kids everywhere. Masterful and important, the song is at times very dense in sound and at times almost stripped to an acoustic machine. Fantastic.

**** 1/2 out of 5

Fear Factory/The Best Of Fear Factory

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , on 290000007-04:00 12 by marky7235

Fear Factory are an American Heavy Metal band formed in 1989. The band specializes in Death/Thrash/Industrial Metal and have released 7 studio albums to date. The band boasts sales of over 1 million units in the U.S. alone. The band is currently on hiatus as the four founding members deal with legal issues over rights to the band’s name. This compilation was released Roadrunner Records in 2006.

Martyr—-Immediately, the song begins with a brutal and deafening sound. Burton delivers a vocal that is both masterful and psychotic. The music is brutal….think classic Static X. The brutality of the lyrical delivery combined with the Fear factory recipe of slower musical interludes and clean vocals is on masterful delivery here. Incredible.

Scapegoat—-Intense and brutal, the musical blasts usher in a vocal growl that is almost scary. The vocal delivery is nearly indistinguishable at the onset of the song, but seems to clear a tad as the song progresses. The musical breaks in the song…the tempo swings combined with the interspersed clean vocals are masterful and classic. As the vocal clears, the melody is clear…..make no mistake about the intense talent of this entity.

Scumgrief—-Musically sounding better than latter day Metallica, the song begins with a clear vocal and scads of melody…as the song progresses, it is interspersed with more aggressive vocals, but this takes nothing away from the song. Burton has found a way to mix up his vocal enough to keep the band sounding as fresh and groundbreaking as it actually is. This is GREAT!

Demanufacture—-Rolling in industrial flavored metal, the guitars kick in and remind you who you are listening to. The guitar blasts sound like machine guns and the drums are incredible in speed. The vocal is very clean at the onset and even when aggressive are clearer and understandable. The band did downplay the harder edge as it evolved, but make no mistake—this is heavy. When Burton screams “I got no  more God damn regrets”, you believe every word spewing from his orifice.

Self-Bias Resistor—-Returning to the machine gun styled guitar delivery, you have a real urge to just slam your head into a wall. When the clean vocal comes through it alone helps you to keep your sanity. As the song progresses it moves from movement to movement with little effort and the ability is seldom seen in this genre of music. This is pure magic.

Zero-Signal—-Creeping up on you better than any heavy Black Sabbath song ever did, the song is bass heavy and layered with exquisite noise. This is incredible in the depth of the music alone. Burton delivers a scathing vocal that again, almost makes you crazy. The construction of the song is so deep in sound and intensity that you are almost disappointed when some melody comes into play. None the less, the clean vocals add even more depth to the brutality and the sudden break in the middle of the song allows you to catch your breath so you can return to full throttle. Freakin’ Magnificent.

Replica—-Brutality from the onset, the song features all of the best things about Fear Factory. The music is hyper and fast, the vocal is brutal yet legible. The breaks are fantastic and the rhythm section is in overdrive. The song almost borders on Suicidal Tendenciesability. only the clean vocal separates it and makes it it’s own. This is incredible…you MUST love this band.

Shock—-More brutal staccato guitar blasts and a faint tornado siren hit you in the face…when Bell growls, you feel like you have come home. This is a freakin’ great underrated and under-listened to band. The talent in this foursome is admirable and i hate to think that it will all be diminished because of legal battles…whatever happened to the joy of making music because you LOVE it?

Edgecrusher—-A complete and utter de-volution into madness. This song is brutal and incredible in musical delivery. not to mention the incredibly brutal vocal. This is classic mosh pit material that just dares you to get in the middle. The delivery and tone of this song ranks up there with one of my very favorite bands…..Hatebreed. Why are there not more bands making music like this?

Ressurection—-By far, my favorite song from this band….combining all the elements that I love about them. This song manages to deliver brutality and a sense of melody and harmonies that are un-parrelled. This is a fantastic journey into the diversity of music and should be enjoyed by every single person on the planet!!!! The lyrical content is incredibly thought provoking and the music commands you to bang your head.

Cars—-Burton Bell has long expressed an admiration for Electronic Master Gary Numan. This collaboration is an absolute masterpiece. Keeping all the key elements of the original with a more metal feel to it than even Numan can muster in his recent live shows, this is a dream of people like me who love all types of music. Seeing this kind of admiration among genres and then hearing the out put of it is a pure joy. The song has a deeper and slower mode but the elements are intact and exact. When Burton and Numan trade vocals it is a thing of pure beauty.

Linchpin—-Sounding more machine generated than earlier release, Bell spews a vocal that is again both pleasant and brutal. This is classic…even if for the drum delivery alone. Of course, you cannot deny the beauty of Burton’s vocals…this is classic and it just leaves me wanting more and more and more.

***** out of 5

Milli Vanilli/Girl, You Know It’s True

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on 290000007-04:00 12 by marky7235

Milli Vanilli were a pop ensemble that both took the world by storm and recieved worldwide scorn in 1989/1990. The brainchild of pop produced Frank Farian, Milli Vanilli were a studio group of musicians who managed to produce a masterpiece of a dance album. Unfortunate for all parties involved, the key members of Milli Vanilli, Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatuswere not Milli Vanilli at all. Instead they were hired models who never actually sand on the release. They were ‘hired’ for their looks and dancing ability alone. Milli Vanilli actually consisted of 5 studio singers Charlie Shaw/John Davis/Brad Howell and Jodie & Lolita Rocco. With 5 top ten singles from the release, Milli Vanilli was awarded a Grammy Award in 1990. After tape problems during live shows, the scam was revealed to the world and the winning Grammy Award was rescinded. None of the members, real or purported, were able to overcome this scandal and Rob Pilatus was found dead of a drug overdose in 1998. Despite people’s perceptions, this debut recording is a masterpiece of near pop perfection and I am not ashamed to admit I still love it to this day.

Girl, You Know Its True—-Perfectly crafted with all the elements that made the early 90’s dance movement popular, this song helped to usher in groups such as C+C Music Factory and Black Box….both of who had their own share of scandal [see Martha Wash review]. The song is high energy, rap infused and thickly layered with machine generated dance grooves. Pure pop heaven.

Don’t Forget My Number—-With more machine generated beats, the song changes tempo often and kicks it in too high gear by the second bar. The vocals are clear and masterfully delivered. The music breaksare masterful and the chorus is so damn catchy I still think of it almost 20 years later. The content is juvenile but feel good and classic late 80’s ingredients. This is nice to revist. Despite who really made this release, they did a hell of a job.

I Can’t Stand To See You Go—-One of the few songs not to recieve airplay, the song is well constructed and a little more R n’ B infused than the earlier tracks. The vocal is magnificent!!! The voice is clear and the breaks in the song are made of masterpieces that can only be created with multiple machines. The song has a nice momentum that keeps it from turning into a ‘love done me wrong’ song…but the sentiment is clear.

Blame It On The Rain—-With a slight island feel to the musical landscape, the tempo is slowed and pleasant. Abandoning the heavy dance rhythms of earlier tracks, the song still has a tad bit of an up tempo. The high hats make the song what it is and this is obviously a producer infused touch. The song has a nice sentiment and is really well crafted. I wish this group of musicians could have come back together with another quality release….but the musical history books are what they are. This is really great!!

Take It As It Comes, Girl—-A nice return to the dancefloor, the song is not as hyper as previous tracks but remains incredibly dancable and full of hooks and movements. This song never received much attention, but is one of the better tracks on the release. The hooksare incredibly catchy and the vocal/lyrical style is unforgettable. This is brilliance…as was the whole ‘scam’…the only downfall is that they got caught.

It’s Your Thang—-Bass and sample heavy, this song is almost more funk than dance. The vocal has lots of female touches and flairs and the musical breaks keep the song sounding fresh. The prominent vocal is slight ‘pop-rap’, and the samples are courtesy of James Brown. The entire song is full of funk and dirty soul…nice but not a favorite of mine.

All About You—-With a heavy bass synth and sampled saxophone, the song moves at a much slower pace. The vocal is a little weak, but the sentiment is strong…..the chorus is a nice journey and does not disappoint. The song does manage to incorporate some of the familiar Farian breaks. this is nice, but close to being a waste of ‘tape’.

All Or Nothing—–The song received huge radio and video play when it was released. The song replays all the elements that made this release HUGE when it was released. The breaks and the beats have the by now familiar ‘euro-disco’ sound. The chorus is almost unforgettable and I bet there are millions of people who could still recite the lyrics to this song. The song takes nice liberties when it breaks from it’s beat and then naturally comes back to where it started. Masterful.

Girl, I’m Gonna Miss You—-By far my favorite track from this release. The sentiment and the feel of the vocal delivery is so real…it will bring you down even if you are in a good place. The chorus comes together in a chorus of vocals that melt your heart and makes you hurt. This is a pure pop masterpiece. The saxophone lends a melancholy voice to the musical track. Frank Farian may very well be a genius.

**** out of 5

Al Stewart/Greatest Hits

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , on 270000007-04:00 12 by marky7235

Al Stewart is a British singer/songwriter/folk rock musician most popular in the latter 70’s. Stewart is one of the founding fathers of British Folk rock and notably preformed at the very first Glastonbury Festival in 1970. Stewart was good friends with pre-Lennon Yoko Ono and was once a roomate of Paul Simon. Stewart has released 19 studio releases, his most recent in 2008. I like Stewart…mainly because he has the exact same vocal inflections of Neil Tennant of The Pet Shop Boys.

Bedsitter Images—-Sounding rather British and a bit dated, the song is a joyous romp through the 70’s British nightlife. The vocal similarities to afore mentioned Tennant are remarkable. The possibilities of covers just revolve around my brain every time I revisit this release. This is a pleasant excursion into late 60’s British pop that never disappoints.

In Brooklyn—-A tale of American road-trips presented with a British accent. Unique and refreshing, Stewart wrote folk song grandeur that was on par with the magna-opus works of Gordon Lightfoot. An entire journey could be accomplished in 4 minutes or less. An incredible and dying art.

Electric Los Angeles Sunset—-Beginning to broaden his horizons with a more guitar based band, Stewart never lost sight of his wit and his incredible ability at wordplay. The tone and force of his voice is almost too relaxed, you wonder if it is all serious or not. The insight to American culture is magnificent and spot on. Very nice.

You Don’t Even Know Me—-Adopting a slight blues tinge with this release, Stewart delivers a vocal that sounds more and more American. The song stays true to the Stewart recipe and tells a nice story as it progresses. The vocal harmonies are nice and quite complimentary. This is classic stuff that really sounds fresh.

Soho [Needless To Say]—-Sounding very New York, Stewart displays his late 60’s early 70’s immigration tho the New York folk scene. Pleasant and with a solid story line, you can not find this type of music anymore. Simple in delivery but intensely complicated underneath, this stuff is masterful.

Roads To Moscow—-With an almost Spanish style to the guitar delivery, the music sucks you into a certain mood. Stewart delivers a classic vocal that rises above the music and becomes an entity within itself. This is great stuff!!! Odd that such a musical soundtrack would go along with such a guitar delivery, but somehow it works perfectly.

Carol—-With a somewhat more ominous guitar line, the song opens up into a nice folky romp of love worn expectations. The vocal delivery is masterful as always and the guitar line changes between a rocky kind of eminence to a more Spanish sounding flora. Very nice and pleasant.

Year Of The Cat—-Perhaps the song that made Stewart a million dollars and a household name in 1979, this song is a classic example of Stewart’s ability to sing/talk his way through a song. This song has a believable storyline and a remarkable resemblance to the sound of The Pet Shop Boys. Believe me, they could do something with this song that would rival any remake around today.

Lord Grenville—-Sounding as if it just stepped from the ashes of Britpop, this song has all the classic elements of everything that made pop great in the mid 90’s…huge chorus…great musical interludes and masterful lyrics…where is the ear of the public….sometimes  people are so closed minded that it makes me a little crazy. This is classic songwriting beauty.

On The Border—-This song has a huge sound…..the guitars envelope you and the vocal just lulls you into a pleasant place that is hard to find in the here and now. Stewart reverts back to the past with the slight feel of Spanish flavored guitar that is so nice and understated…yet so important that it would not be the same song without it. This is pure magic and the sound is filled so lush with sound that the year of release no longer matters.

Song On The Radio—-A mainstay on 70’s radio, the song forever has a place in history. No 70’s collection would be complete without this song on it and the pleasant vibe of the song is a clear indication why. This is pure pop perfection. A whole story in just a few minutes with lyrics that are understated and masterful.

Time Passages—-Another Stewart classic that can not even come close to being repeated. Although I would love to hear a thumping dance version of this song ala The Pet Shop Boys. The song has a heavy organ vibe that really works well with the acoustic guitar that is featured. again, Stewart offers up lyrics that are so descriptive that you feel your self transported into the scene from which he is singing. This is classic and  an indelible piece of history.

Merlin’s Time—-Again, returning to a more Spanish styled guitar delivery, the song has a nice breezy feel. I can almost see the bullfights and the toreadors in my mind;s eye. That is the beauty of music after all…isn’t it. Stewart deliverers a vocal that is relaxed, yet full of emotion and feeling. The song has a nice quiet delivery that allows you to think around the lyric and really enjoy it. Great.

Running Man—-Musically, the song has a large, almost huge sound. The vocal remains understated, but overall the music is what stands out. The vocal almost seems pushed back and allows this exceptional band to show all of their class. As great as anything Steely Dan was doing at the time, this is an underplayed. under appreciated classic.

Midnight Rocks—-Returning to a more Folk based sound, this song has been covered but the entire thing escapes me…..none the less, this song has a huge sound…the horns add to the mix in an incredible way during the vocal breaks but settle to an absolute 0 during the refrain. this is masterful song construction and is rarely heard in pop music today.

Last Days Of The Century—-Spacey and just a tad bit experimental, Stewart tries to keep pace with the emergence of Yes and ELP, you can almost feel the growth and movement to a more experimental edge. The song fails in this attempt but maintains the simple fact that Stewart is an incredible songwriter and vocalist. A great way to round out this collection.

***** out of 5

Jarvis Cocker/Further Complications

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , on 270000007-04:00 12 by marky7235

Jarvis Cocker is an English musician currently living in France. Cocker is best known as the former frontman of the English band Pulp. Cocker was one of the key members of the Brit-pop movement in the mid 1990’s. Since embarking on a solo career in 2006, Cocker has released two albums under his own name.

Further Complications—-Beginning almost immediatltley upon inserting the CD. the bass heavy song ushers in a Costello sounding Cocker that is full of bravado and machismo. The musical landscape is hit and miss, a somewhat jaunty, erratic delivery. The vocal is pure English pop perfection. Cocker displays all the wit and ire of Morrissey and the delivery of a Gallagher. Wonderful!

Angela—-This is a nice romp through Brit land!!! The vocal delivery is an almost a talk through and the sound reminds me of early, quirky Joe Jackson. This is almost perfection….from the fuzzy guitar to the subtle hand claps…the only pitfall may be a little bit too much production.

Pilchard—-A joyous and well constructed instrumental that allows the listener to know that Cocker is not only a singer, but an instrumentalists as well. The vocal sounds are slight and unnecessary, as the track stands on quality without them. This is Elvis Costello at his very best back in the day.

Leftovers—-A bit more sedate and more constructed. The vocal is almost spoken the entire way through, but to masterful effect. Cocker delivers lines that are subtle and thought provoking. This is incredibly well done and should have received MUCH more attention on this side of the ‘pond’.

I Never Said I Was Deep—-Full of melancholy sounds and musical tones, the song almost reminds me of a very sedate Lou Reed…yes. it is that good. If you have any leanings towards the British side of things, this release must be in your collection. Cocker delivers a vocal that is better than anything, I think, that he has ever recorded before. An absolute masterpiece.

Homewrecker—-A bit more metallic from the onset, there are SKA leanings that cannot be ignored…rather embraced for their masterful delivery. The horn section seems to be a favorite of Cocker and that is just fine by me…the noise and sweet sounds that this track produces are incredible. Cocker delivers a vocal that again reminds me of late, late 70’s Costello/Joe Jackson. This is really good and will be on my MP3 for quite sometime.

Hold Still—-Glorious in the level of sedation, this song has all the elements of a quasi-psychedelic song of the late sixties. There are lots of organs and vocal oohs and ahhs. This is incredible. Cocker sings of ‘cosmic dust’ and subtle hand claps echo in the backdrop. Harp-like sounds emanate from the speakers and Cocker sounds forlorn and lonely. WOW!!!

F**uckingsong—-Beginning with some neo-psychedelia, Cocker busts the whole thing wide open with his vocal of lust and wanting. A true lesson for those who want the ones we can’t have, Cocker ignites our lust and just as quickly extinguishes it with the realization of rebuttal.

Caucasian Blues—-Giving the best Costello impression of his career, this song hearkens back to the punker Pulp days. This is masterful and borders closely on the edge of pure punk rock. This is an incredible surprise and really welcome. The blues tinge and the hyper fast guitar really work well together. Incredible!!!

Slush—-More sedate and heavily layered musically. Cocker sounds like he stepped right from the Pulp stage into his own without even thinking about it. This is an intricate and beautiful song…both musically and lyrically. The layers upon layers of sound just work so well with the vocal that it is a rare moment of pop perfection. Why are we not listening to this release all the time……Americans are so closed in their musical minds. You are missing out!!!!

You’re In My Eyes—-The song begins in an odd way, with an very back ground of funk music playing….as if Cocker is singing over some old 70’s Disco record….except he never reaslly sings…just talk his way through, but believe me…it really works to incredible effect. When the song does open up, there is a nice background of female vocals that only add to the whole atmosphere of the song. This is incredible and masterful. Reminds me of classic Bowie!!!

***** out of 5