Archive for August, 2009

….And You Will Know Us By The The Trail Of The Dead/The Century Of Self

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , on 310000008-04:00 12 by marky7235

….And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead are classified as an Art Rock band. Formed in 1994, and from Austin, Texas, the band has endured numerous line up changes and record label disruptions. Despite the difficulties, the band has continued to produce quality releases and consistent work. The Century Of Self is the band’s 6th studio release.

The Giants Causeway—-A grand musical interlude, the music swells with a huge introduction. The layers are magnificent and the mood is somber and relevant…wonderful!!!!

The Far Pavilions—-Metallic and layered, the vocal has the slight punk sty lings of many Emo bands popular today…the one thing that sets them apart is the heavily layered sound o the music and the experimental edge that gives them a fresh and unique sound. This is magnificent…full of energy, angst and upheaval all in one chorus. Magnificent!

Isis Unveiled—-This song has a huge, huge guitar line that is accented by masterful keyboards and rhythm. This is a wonderful example of how different one band can sound from one track to the next. The scope of the song is a huge almost orchestrated extravaganza that builds and builds to a climax that is unforgettable. This is absolutely wonderful. The best noise at the best level presented in the best way.

Halcyon Days—-The vocal begins from the very first note of the song and is masterful. The guitar deliveries propel the song and force the vocal to emote the wonderful delivery that you expect from this band. The harmonies and melodies are almost laden with British melodies and deliveries. By far, a favorite of mine. Layers and layers of sound make this song lush and brutal, beautiful and noisy.

Bells Of Creation—-More subdued from the onset. you are greeted by a gentle piano that grows to include the other instruments of the band at a gradual manner. The vocal again makes you think of the great showgaze  bands of the 90’s, but still sounding fresh and unique at the same time. This is magical and wonderful. Do not miss this excellent slightly psychedelic journey!!

Fields Of Coal—-Wonderfully layered with an admirable and eccentric vocal, the band never lets me down. The vocal style is a chorus type of sing a long that makes goosebumps jump up on your arms and on the back of your neck. A wonderful noisy journey that never lets you down…this is fantastic.

Inland Sea—-A joyous guitar intro prefaces the song and suddenlybecomes quite in time for the vocal to emerge. The voice is one of emotion and tenderness…the gentle piano strains are outstanding and rank up with the best stuff that Coldplay or The Fray could ever imagine. Wonderful and beautiful…heart wrenching and sad….wow!!!

Luna Park—-Delivering a vocal that is on par with the most wonderful and endearing vocalist on the mainstream charts today, this song is a heavily layered and emotional journey through sounds of introspection and sadness. The guitars and piano beef up the song and add to the emotional levels of the power of music. This is incredible stuff that needs to be heard by the masses. The mistakes are rare and the masterpieces come in waves. Outstanding.

Insatiable [one] —-Serene and layeredwith a slight touch of psychedelia, the voice is serene and full of emotion. The tone is full of emotion and reeks of loneliness. The guitar is a gentle reminder that human emotion is driven by music and layers of feelings. This is landmark and huge…masterful!!!

Pictures Of An Only Child—-Almost filled with the best pop styles that are popular today, I again think of the success of bands like Coldplay and wonder why this band is not huge and filling stadiums with their large and emotive sounds. We, as Americans. are shallow in our perspective and base things on such things as band titles and perception. A little radio play would explode this band to the masses…of course..then it would not be our band anymore would it?

Ascending—-The song is without description, the layers of sounds and interlocking vocals just provide a huge soundscape of sound that pleases and provokes weeping from the masses. This is a wonderful huge sound that gets at your very being. Fantastic!!!

An August Theme—-With a piano interlude that will rip the heart from your chest, there are times when the sound almost evokes the genius of The Beatles. The song has the layered and experimental edge that the lads from Liverpool were so good at…this is a wonderful excursion into the world of ‘Art-Rock’…whatever that is…I just call it fantastic music.

Insatiable [two]—-As a continuing interlude from the previous song, this track rounds out the release in a masterful way and leaves you with  a huge empty feeling as the release ends…you only have a thirst for something more,,,,,and you anxiously await he next chapter from this highly underrated band. PLEASE HURRY!!!!!

***** out of 5

Hurt/Goodbye To The Machine

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , on 310000008-04:00 12 by marky7235

Hurt are an Art Rock/Alternative Rock band from Virginia and now residing in Los Angeles, Ca. Formed in 2000, the band has undergone numerous record label changes and are now signed to independent label Amusement. The band has released 5 proper studio release, the latest in 2009.

Got Jealous—-Beginning in an almost acoustic realm, the song kicks into a more aggressive gear at the second bar. The song..although masculine and with a heaviness, also contains some intriguing elements of the blues and noise rock. The song is layered in sound and vocals and has numerous times that it slows and speeds up in a wonderful way. Nice.

Pandora—-Much more alternative based, the guitar is a nice jangly affair that really opens up by the third bar and then again quiets to a hush. The drums are integral to the sound of the song, while the vocal is an emotive pained delivery that settles in your psyche and leave you with a bit of despair for a time.

Wars—-The first single release from this CD, this song reminds me of Staind. The vocal is subtle and filled with a quiet emotion. The music builds, swells and ebbs in a masterful delivery of Alt-rock mastery. This is a nice, introspective journey that keeps your ears perked and your attention span at full height.

World Ain’t Right—-Acoustic and quiet, the song again reminds me of Aaron Lewis and company. The guitar is an intricate and studied delivery that only adds heaps of introspection on top of heavy and layered vocals. The lyrics are heady and not meant for a casual listen. This is down right beautiful!

Sweet Delilah—-Even more sedate than the previous track, the guitar does come a live in a small way, while the drums are playing in one speaker. The vocal is so quiet and serious, the emotion is everywhere. The song does nothing for a lagging emotion,,,it will only drive your sadness deeper and deeper into a darkness that you do not want it to settle in.

1331—-This song has a much more of a pop style that was necessary after the previous two tracks. The sound is still somewhat sedate, but when the guitars and drums open up, the vocal becomes more animated and rough. This is a nice change.

Role Martyr X—-Ahhh….a much more aggressive and rocking sound, the song has a very nice metal flair. When the vocal begins, there is an unfortunate silencing of the instruments….but during the interlude the guitars are masterful. This is a nice Alt-Rock delivery that is just masterful and needed. Really great!!

Well—-Yet another delving into the darker side of the band, the delivery almost reminds me of Blue October. The vocal is plain, yet has a certain level of urgency at times. The music is kept in tight rein….unfortunate, because I think this band could really rock if given the chance. The vocal seems to keep everything in tact and controlled….sad!

Pills—-Now, this delivery makes me think of Pearl Jam. The vocal is not as strong as Eddie’s, but the feel is there. The song is never really allowed to let loose and rock the way it was meant to, I blame this on both production and a controlling vocalist. This is a song that was never really allowed to live up to it’s potential.

Dreams Away—-Much heavier and rock based, the intro is a nice noisy affair….again once the vocal begins, the music is quelled and made almost silent. The chorus allows a more rocking feel that ebbs and flows rather nicely. The musical landscape is a layered and tight affair…let loose guys……what are you made of?????????????

Fighting Tao—-Yet another dirge that forces us into an uncomfortable realm of sadness and darkness. The guitars are a muted affair that only comes alive on the chorus…but it is to a masterful effect. The vocal seems stronger with the onslaught and I do not know why they don’t investigate this song further. Not bad…..but I’m still waiting to hear Armageddon erupt from these guys.

That [Such A Thing]—-The song is another example of how the integral musicianship is forgotten because of the detail to the whims of the vocalist…a band should be an entity and a unit, and instead they are treated as second rate. This band needs some freedom, and they are not going to get it in the current situation. The vocal harmonies are nice though.

**1/2 out of 5

The Smiths/Louder Than Bombs

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , on 290000008-04:00 12 by marky7235

Undeniably, one of the most important and influential bands of the last Century. The Smiths were a short-lived band, yet was important to the lives of millions of people. When the band split in acrimonious terms in late 1987, nations of fans mourned. Louder Than Bombs was released in March 1987. It is a singles compilation released by the American label Sire Records. This was the US answer to the British release The World Won’t Listen. This is a great and enjoyable compilation that every fan should own.

Is It Really So Strange?—-A later single from the band, the song finds Morrissey in only the best of voice. The drum tracks is masterful and the guitar of Marr is instantly recognizable. The lyrical content is typical fare, and Morrissey never fails to enunciate and flay about in his admirable way.

Sheila Take A Bow—-Another of the singles that was released about the same period of time as this single…this was the last of the band was was as great as the first. Morrissey is admirable in his morose way, although the music is a much more cheerful almost rocky affair. This is wonderfully delivered and belies no hint that the band was on it’s last legs.

Shoplifters Of The World—-Yet another of the band’s last singles, the song takes on a more moody atmosphere and a vocal delivery that is echoed to an incredible effect. The guitar is a grand layered affair that only proves the genius of Marr. This is beautifully done and one of my favorite singles from this period.

Sweet And Tender Hooligan—-We switch suddenly to one of the earliest Smiths singles available. The song sounds unpolished and rough…the band at their finest. The vocal of Morrissey changes little, but the passion and flair was more pronounced than ever. The music is a rockin’ affair that reeks of the Morrissey that would come years later. Wonderful!!!!

Half A Person—-This is a wonderful display of all the reasons I love Morrissey and Marr. The instrument and the voice perform acts of love that few have repeated. The voice is smooth, suave and morose…the music is gentle, quiet and morose…..a winning combination in 1983!!! The lyrical puns and allusions to sexuality only developed a more rapid following….wonderful PR helped also.

London—-A glorious and rocking affair!!! The drums are fast and in your face, the guitar is a rock-a-billy extravaganza of speed. The vocal is masterful, as Morrissey keeps perfect rhythm with the instruments. This is classic and wonderful.

Panic—-Never a favorite single of mine, I heard it for the first time live during the The Queen Is Dead tour in Detroit…..I stood in awe and wondered why there were 3000 people in one place to see ‘my band’. The song caused much controversy for the band, alluding to racial overtones and all of that other British crap…to me, the song just sounded a tad bit flat. Nice, but not a favorite.

Girl Afraid—-The musical landscape is comprised of all the classic Smiths sounds that we all grew to love. Morrissey in in great lyrical affair as he tells subtle sordid tales of youth and flesh. The delivery is a classic croon that stands true to this day. Brilliant!

Shakespeare’s Sister—-Rocking in the familiar rock-a-billy sound the band had hidden in their agenda, the song is a great reason to prove the genius belief in the band. Morrissey is at his finest vocal form…he hits notes that are admirable and just as quickly settles down into a pensive nod. This is brilliance!

William, It Was Really Nothing—-One of the bands earliest singles, this only shows the promise of a band that would capture the world. The vocal is a nice demonstration of Morrissey at both his understated best and his most outrageous, as he hits falsettos and morose tones all in one song. The musical landscape is the classic jangly pop of the early 80’s that settled so well with adolescents everywhere and serves us adults years later.

You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet Baby—-Perhaps a perfect pop song, the chorus is a catchy affair that won’t leave you alone. the music is propulsive and jangly at the same time. Morrissey delivers a tone that is sarcastic and pensive all at once. Incredible!!

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now—-The theme song of goth kids everywhere, the band had that huge cross over potential. This song finds Morrissey at some of his best morose and self-deprecating moods ever. Marr delivers a classic signature guitar sound that will live forever. This is fabulous.

Ask—-Another of the singles released during the end days of the band, I felt the single was a desperate act of pretensions. The spirit was gone by this point and I think that the overall quality of the song showed that. The mood of the song is contrived and the lyrical content a little too forced. Not a favorite, but a classic track that many fans loved.

Golden Lights—-Featuring vocals by Morrissey idol Sandie Shaw, the song is an ode to her and the whole subject of fandom. Morrissey delivers a great understated vocal and the music plays in my headphones to a masterful effect. The tone of the song is almost 60’s inspired and wonderfully calm. This is wonderful and unnoticed for far to long.

Oscillate Wildly—-One of the few instrumental tracks ever issued by the band, it is a wonderful excursion into the classic sound of the band without the vocal of Moz. The tone of the song is pure jangly British pop ecstasy. Wonderful!

These Things Take Time—-A welcome return to the early rocking days of the band. The drums are again, very upfront and noticeable. Morrissey delivers lyrics that are depressed and self-effacing. Marr, meanwhile, seems to jam to his own mood and controls the pace of the song. this is masterful stuff. A high point!

Rubber Ring—-The song has a slight bluesy feel to it that is just incredible. Morrissey sings in a lazy drawl that sometimes takes him to his masterful upper registers. The chorus is a damn catchy affair that will stick to your bones. the lyrical content is an ode to exactly what i am doing now…revisit the classics that shaped your life….magnificent!

Back To The Old House—-Immediately morose and down trodden, Morrissey is at his best when he is allowed to wallow in his own mess. And, let me say. he does a masterful job on this track. The band indulges his mood by delivering a nice down tempo sound that is still remarkably electric and percussive without overpowering the vocal. Wonderful example of a band in it’s most creative period.

Hand In Glove—-A very favorite track on mine, and one of the earliest Smith’s singles. The song is a remarkable rocking affair with harmonica and a driving guitar sound that is only egged on by the drums. Morrissey seems to have a vocal that is pushed to the back of the mix, but it works to an incredible effect. This is history!!

Stretch Out And Wait—-Another one of those tracks that i cannot live without. The whole tone of the song seems to have an urgency to it despite the slower pace of the music. Morrissey drives the song forward with a vocal that is clear, concise and very real. This is without a doubt one of the best examples of why this band captured the hearts and minds of millions. Brilliant!!!

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want—-Perhaps the one track that puts Morrissey’s self-deprecation on it’s finest display. The song is short…..solitude…stripped and stirring. A true masterpiece!

This Night Has Opened My Eyes—-Showing a nice and rare bass line, the song is very percussion oriented. Make no mistake, Marr makes his presence known, but the song belongs to Rourke and Joyce. Morrissey is even more solitary and haunting than usual, but if you tune into the musical aspects, you realize what a unit this band once was.

Unloveable—-The Smiths at one of their finest moments. This captured the hearts of dis-enfranchised youth from all over the world. When Stephan sings….”I wear black on the outside, cause black is how I feel on the inside….”, he became the hero of millions. The music is a dark and layered journey through loneliness and isolation. Wonderful….the song only gets better as it evolves…listen to the end!

Asleep—-A haunting and scary song, one began to worry about the fragility of Morrissey upon hearing this song. The music is a haunting, piano based lullaby that only makes you think of the worst outcome… Morrissey….indeed the world would be a lesser place without the King Of Mope.

***** out of 5

Matt & Kim/Grand

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on 290000008-04:00 12 by marky7235

Matt & Kim are a Pop duo currently residing in Brooklyn. NY. Formed in 2004, the duo are currently married. The group as a unique dance style that includes top 40 hip-hop styles. Grand is the duo’s second full length release.

Daylight—-Beginning with an almost funky piano, the vocal is decidedly British in sound and sounding as if they are transplanted to the US. This is a wonderful poppy tune that has a hook that will stay in your head for quite sometime. The lyrical content is slight in introspection, although a tad juvenile..yet accessible. Very nice beginning.

Cutdown—-The song begins with a tad deeper house sound that is bass and synth driven. the vocal still sounds like a transplanted Brit, but is incredible in charm and accessibility. he music has many layers, a percussion track that is upfront, a deeper hum that is on the second layer and a synth that makes up the onion peel of a song. This is wonderful. even the hand claps have a place.

Good Old Fashioned Nightmare—-The song is full of a modern trip hop sound that is layered with an almost Beatles-esque atmosphere. The synth strings are magnificent and integral to the song. the vocal is lazy yet emotive and the song again has the hook that will stay in your brain for days.

Spare Change—-Again, the song has a 60’s pop flair that resembles the previous track. The vocals are layered and that in itself makes the song seem much larger. The vocal remains very British in sound and the musical landscape is a joy. Nice!!!

I Wanna—-Almost SKA infused, the song has some spare horns that beef up the song, and the vocal remains unmistakable and without imperfection. The song has nice tempo changes that brings real life to the song. This is great!!!

Lessons Learned—-The song begins with a Go-Go’sinspired drum delivery, and we get to hear the gentle musings of Kim before Matt takes over on vocals. This is one of the best pop songs I have heard in quite sometime. The song combines the best of the US sound as well as offering International flavor. Magnificent.

Don’t Slow Down—-The song has a more aggressive flair to it that really becomes the band. The dance rhythms are if full effective and work really well. The vocal is full of short and tight vocal retorts that are understandable and sensible. This is Great!!!!!

Turn This Boat Around—-The music still has a pop sensibility, but the vocal is more sedate and introspective. The chorus is a fun catchy little ditty that will replay in your head and take control of your cerebellum for quite some time. The perfect hall mark of a great pop song!!

Cinders—-Almost Pop-Punk in sound, the song still retains a strong electronic flavor, albeit it very fast. This instrumental is a marvelous little interlude. Very nice!!!

I’ll Take Us Home—-Wonderfully constructed and delivered. The vocal is predictable, yet welcome. The synth has a nice string sound that rounds out the mood of the song. I love the electronic elements of the band because they are so rudimentary that they sound both fresh and retro. WOW!

Daylight Outro [Remix]—-Beginning with the chorus, the song has the ability to be even more in grained than the original. This is a nicely layered and thick sounding version of the original…the vocal is stripped bare and very natural. I love this version…better than the ‘straight’ version.

*** 1/2 out of 5

Assemblage 23/Storm

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , on 280000008-04:00 12 by marky7235

Yes….still dwelling in my Assemblage 23 fixation. This release, issued in 2004, finds Tom as his most assessable and dance oriented. Assemblage 23 remains the best selling EBM oriented act in the US. A special thanks to blogsurfer and condron/us for featuring my blog.

Human—-Swirling with sound and emotion, Shear kicks to mood into high gear by the second bar. The song is really bass heavy and moves at a good 115 BPM’s. The vocal never fails, Tom delivers a voice that is just full of emotion and calculated coldness all at the same time. This is wonderfully constructed, the melody of the song is unforgettable. And…the heavy bass line is unforgiving.

Skin—-Beginning a bit more erratic and staccato, the song develops nicely as it progresses. The musical sounds are heavily layered and once shear lets loos of the sedate key, the song evolves into a pure masterpieces of Assemblage 23. The message delivered through the lyrics is empowering and though provoking. this is not lazy man music…you must think about what you are listening to and grasp it….this is incredible!

Ground—-The onset of the song is reminiscent of classic 80’s style synthlines…but the trademark sound quickly reminds you of who you are listening to. Once Shear begins to sing, you hear the familiar strains of a best friend. The song is accented by some female vocals that work really well. The lyrical content is intense as usual and not to be simply dismissed. Shear sings about all the things that we all experience. This is real life.

Let The Wind Erase Me—-Beginning with a more industrial sound, that is quickly pushed aside for the heavy, heavy bass beats that draw people to the dance floors in dark and dank clubs. The vocal is so damn accessible and accepting that you can no help but get sucked in. I just discovered this band about a year ago and wondered what the hell was going on in my brain. This is the best….and hard to believe American music. Superb…..I Love You, Tom Shear!!!!

Infinite—-welcomed by a bevy of choir like voices, the song builds to a masterful pace behind them. As sounds continue to develop, the choir fades and you are left with the purest form of synth perfection available. The vocal is so welcoming and familiar, you wonder how he manages to keep his tone set to this pace of music. Perhaps he lays vocal tracks before. You would never be able to record over these lines in such a masterful way. This is damn near perfection….why is this band not huge?

Complacent—-This is a much more sedate track at the onset…the vocal is morose and serious. As the song progresses, the pace build a tad but nowhere near the pace of previous tracks. Shear sings of things that mattered in 2004 and ……surprise….still matter in 2009. This man is genius…I am dying to have the new release in my ears!!

You Haven’t Earned It—-A slight return to the dance floor mayhem of other tracks, this song is better than anything Depeche Mode could ever hope to produce. This is an introspective, danceable and disturbing song…it speaks of life, elitism and ego-centric hooligans….wonderful!

Regret—-Heavy on synth and a darker tone, the vocal is like a best friend once again. The pace of the song is incredible, while the vocal remains at an even and sedate tone. Shear is a master at what he does. The lyrical content is something that every human being can relate to and should investigate. At times the tone is almost spiritual. I love this!!!!!

Apart—-Heavily layered and full of hyper synth beats, Shear delivers an almost industrialized version of his voice at times. This was reminiscent of the early days. By the chorus, the vocal clears and the dance rhythms are brutal. This is incredible. Why has Tom never worked with Trent? Imagine what they could create together!!! WOW!

30 KFT—-Man…..disturbing and beautiful, the music is a beautiful swell of orchestration and sound effects. The vocal is a muted sound of despair and sadness as a man is on a plane that is about to crash and he makes a last minute phone call. It is chilling and haunting……the music fits the mood masterfully….the string arrangements will chill you and the hidden desperation of the vocal is incredible….the songs ends suddenly before the call is finished and you are left with an over whelming sadness….Incredible!

***** out of 5

New Order/Substance Disc 2

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on 280000008-04:00 12 by marky7235

Disc 2:

In A Lonely Place—-This song is a return to the more morose and early days of the band. The vocal is eerie and makes you think of Curtis immediately. The band, unsure of where the sound was gong, tried to stay true to the band that they had all started together. The result, with this song, is a really atmospheric heart-achingly, depressed excursion into the pains of the band. This is heavy, yet quite beautiful and catchy.

Procession—-Again, full of atmosphere from the onset, the song travels the span of headphones in a masterful way. The drum kicks in and we are on a journey that shows again, the band’s progression. This is a catchy melody with an imperfect vocal that adds charm. The bass line is powerful and the drums seem to be at the front of the mix. This is a great early band recording that is really nice to revisit.

Mesh—-Coming from a swirl of sound, the song is yet another return to the more morose recordings of the band……but without a doubt masterful. The vocal is wonderfully hollow and the bass line is accented by nice keyboards swishes and bass drum beats. This is a wonderful journey back into time that should not be missed.

Hurt—-Bass and synth heavy, the song has a deepness that is hard to shake. The higher keyboard pitches don’t even dispel the feelings of darkness that permeate the song. The vocal is a very odd…almost punky delivery. The sound of the vocal is muted as well and gives the whole song an odd feel. Not one of my favorites, but good none the less.

The Beach—-Ok….whatever. The track listing says The Beach….but this is just a pro-acted, never ending remix of Bizarre Love Triangle. At any rate, it is a great remix and I love hearing it…the basic elements are the same, but the song grows with a nice robotic vocal delivery that melds with the music perfectly.

Confusion [Instrumental]—-Recorded in an almost dub form, the song does give us little vocal snippets of the original. The elements of the song remain the same, but all traces of the bass line are replaced by synth and keys. This is nice to mix with the original, but by itself just does not go anywhere.

Lonesome Tonight—-Very guitar based, the song has a nice bass line [surprise] and some added synth effects that make the sound a little larger than it would be. The vocal is slight in delivery and a tad bit off key…wonderful!!! I love it when an artist will show vulnerability and imperfection. The song swirls nicely. reminding you again of the early days of the band. This is magnificent!

Murder—-Heavy on drums and intermittent swirls of synth, the song slowly builds in its intensity. The bass enters before long and the song takes on an almost free for all atmosphere, with sounds coming at you from all directions. There are interesting soundbites and disturbing snips of sound…this is different and almost experimental in sound. Nicely done Blokes!!!

Thieves Like Us [Instrumental]—-This is a nice dubbed up version of the original found on the previous disc. Keeping all the important elements of the original, the song manages to highlight the key parts of the song in an extended version. The synth lines are magnificent and Hook even gets a go as his solo’s are pronounced and louder. This is a nice almost trance like version that really works well with the original tone of the song.

Kiss Of Death—-Adopting all the best elements of the band is not an easy task, but the band does very well on this track of doing just that. The song is a magnificent journey through the time-line of New Order. Really wonderful…I love this track.

Shame Of The Nation—-A re-working of the single ‘State Of The Nation’, the song seems to put a heavy emphasis on the background female vocals that gives it a nice soulful feel. The song is full of dub effects and the emotional vocals of Sumner. This is a classic re working of a great track. Very nice.

1963—-Another new song recorded for this compilation, at the time it was a favorite track of mine. I love how the song seems to include all of this instrumentation….now I know it is just added synth effects. The song is not a pleasant story, as it unfolds before your eyes…rare for this band. I always get a slight uneasy feeling when i listen to this song as Sumner pleads Johnny not to point that gun at him….very unsettling but incredibly real…all set to some very danceable music. How sublime!!

**** out of 5

New Order/Substance Disc 1

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews on 280000008-04:00 12 by marky7235

New Order were an English/Synth-Pop band formed in 1980. The band was born of the remaining members of quint-essential Alt Rock giants Joy Division in the year following the suicide of vocalist Ian Curtis. New Order were one of the most critically acclaimed and influential bands of the 1980’s. The band has experienced numerous hiatus’s during their career. 2006 saw the band release their first new material in 8 years. In 2007, Bassist Peter Hook and vocalist Bernard Sumner announced that they would no longer record together and the group was disbanded. Sumner and Stephen Morris have formed a new band Bad Lieutenant. Substance, released in 1987, combines in one collection many of the band’s 12″ singles and the accompanying B-sides as well as two new tracks True Faith and 1963.

Disc 1:

Ceremony—-This relatively early single shows the band still trying to get a foothold on the direction they would take. The bass of Hook is at it’s very best…a trademark of this band. The vocal is very understated and the music somewhat sedate and morose. The song has a great pick up and some really great energy. One of my favorite New Order tracks. This song was originally written by Ian Curtis and played a few times live by Joy Division [see great video on].

Everything Gone Green—-This single saw the band developing more of the style that it would later adopt. The synthesizer is more pronounced and the ever present powerful bass line shines through. The song has a nice propulsion that keeps it energetic and danceable. Sumner still displays a lack of confidence on the vocal front, but I find it very endearing. This is a great evolutionary study of the band as it struggled to find it’s way after a huge tragedy.

Temptation—-There is an immediate difference as you hear this song compared to the two previous tracks. The vocal has a new energy and confidence and the music is much more synth driven. Make no mistake, Hook has always had his trademark sound ‘ prominently displayed in every track but the band suddenly has more members to listen to. Bernard sings in a higher register that really helped to define the band’s sound, Morris delivers a great drum track and the keys are outstanding. This is a really wonderful song.

Blue Monday—-This song has the honor [?] and distinction of holding the Guinness Record for the most copies of a 12″ pressing sold in the history of the recording industry. This song has been remixed, remastered and re-released numerous times and still manages to keep it’s charm. Made for the dance floor, the song has every element that was necessary in the realm of 80’s dance. The bass line is prominent, the synths are hyper driven. The vocal is Sumner at his very best. The song manages a slight funky edge to it that is helped by the Hook bass line. The vocal is unique…it is layered at times upon each other, it is auto-tuned at times, but most of all carries a detachment that is damn attractive. Still, I never tire of this classic.

Confusion—-This track has the classic sound of the 80’s dance floor. Sumner delivers a vocal that seems turned to an odd pitch but still outstanding. The synths are in layers and at times, any other instrument is indistinguishable to the ear. The short musical interludes are like mini-trips into other songs…I love this!!!

Thieves Like Us—-Beginning with a solitude bass beat, the music enters and swirls around your head like a beautiful halo. The keyboards and synthesizers are mating and the result is dance floor classic spawn. The sound is a beautiful yet dancey result and the Hook bass line seems glaringly absent. This is really a wonderful little composition with many high points all rolled into one iany song. Sumner delivers a morose vocal that just seems to it with the underlying, swirling synth. Magical!

Perfect Kiss—-From the onset, the song is a little hit and miss…trying to fit too many things in a single line. By the first bar, the song begins to find a direction and the result is a wonderful thing. I love the speed of the song…it must rank about 125 bpms…..once the swirling synths are introduced, you know the vocal is not far behind. Sumner sings in a tone that is slightly off key at times and absolutely charming. This is another track of the band’s that never quite got the attention it deserved. The bass line of Peter’s returns and fits in the mix of the song really well…it would not be the same without it. This is wonderful!

Subculture—-Beginning from the very first second the needle hits the turntable, the song is already at a break neck speed by the first 3 seconds. The vocal intro is female singer and Sumner ushers in his presence with a pleasant vocal that melds right in to the song. The female back up vocals are integral to the sound of the song and it is a whole new realm for this band as it really hits it’s dance stride. This is a masterpiece of a song that brings back many memories and reflections. These were good years.

Shellshock—-One of my favorite New Order tracks…the song will reverberate and travel all over your speaker system. Beginning with a nice keyboard intro, the song grows and grows with added effects as it travel from speaker to speaker….the track has a slight ebb and then comes back to you with a vengeance. This is a classic dance track that is still pretty heavily played today and the reason is clear…it is a masterpiece. The vocal is a thing of mastery as Sumner sings in a tone that is more accessible than ever. The level of movement in the song is at an all time high. the music is hyper and all over…leaving an indelible impression on your brain. Wonderful!!!

State Of The Nation—-The song begins in the usual fashion, but takes on more a noisy direction as it continues. Hook’s bass line really smacks you in the face during this song…it is more obvious than the synths or keys. The vocal is sedate and the lyrical content is not the usual poppy material that we are accustomed to. The vocal at times seems to get buried in all of the levels of music, but all in all it s again…classic!

Bizarre Love Triangle—-Perhaps one of the better known New order songs among people who frequent dance floors, it is obvious why from the first strains. This is classic club land music that will please every pallet. The music has that nice recognizable bass line, snth sounds that hit you like a whip and a vocal that is classic Sumner as he returns to his higher register. This is a wonderful trip down memory lane, and an example of some really great, innovative Brits!!

True Faith—-One of the new songs recorded for this compilation, it became a huge success for the band and was issued in many remix versions. Of course, it contains all the best elements of the band,,,which by this time had mastered to a fault. The overall sound of the song is huge and epic…layers of sound and that bass line right in your face. The vocal is a classic example of a man who had come into his own and was comfortable with his ability. a far cry from the first two tracks on this disc. This song, as I said is huge…you can just feel the large ness of the sound. They meant for this to hit you hard and the succeeded nicely.

****1/2 out of 5

Living In Oblivion/The 80’s Greatest Hits Vol. 5

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on 260000008-04:00 12 by marky7235

Thanks for featuring my entries!!!!

Disc 5:

Major Tom [Coming Home] [Peter Schilling]—-I can remember how this song stirred my interest in everything Bowie when I was a freshman in college…now all these years later and the proud owner of about 60 Bowie releases….I have only the 80’s to blame. This composition is a magnificent and huge sounding excursion into space that is magically transposed onto the data tape of a recording studio. A wonderful and magical one hit wonder.

Hyperactive [Thomas Dolby]—-A clear example that the genius extends far beyond the one hit wonder status…of course if you could partake in the entire catalog of Dolby, you would know instantly of the genius that is the man. This single only proves the point that he was way before his time, skilled on machines beyond belief and a god father to the Electronic movement. This is magnificent!!!!

Promises, Promises [Naked Eyes]—-A clear example of why you cannot stick this band in the One Hit Wonder club. It is not their fault that we as Americans were to daft to take hold of their sound. This is magnificent…danceable yet distant…cold yet overwhelmingly warm……empty but brimming with emotion. Wonderful!!!!

The Promise [When In Rome]—-Thanks to Tracy…..I learned to LOVE this song because it was a favorite of yours. The song begins with an overwhelming emotional feel that you can not escape. The synth is over powering and the vocal is full of emotion and heaviness. The feel of the song just reeks of top 40o masterpiece. This is a beautiful song that never grows old…the momentum of the song will not leave you alone and the detached vocal just makes you more intrigued. This is fantastic!!!

Vienna [Ultravox]—-My vote for one of the best pop songs ever written. This is an opus in 4 minutes or less. The vocal is cold and calculated yet full of some kind of desperate emotion that you grab for when you are drowning. The layers of music only add to the desperationof the song. The voice only intensifies as the song develops and you are left hollow and aching…this is incredible!!!

Enola Gay [Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark]—-Perhaps the best known song from this band..well, except for “If You Leave “…..this song had a social statement and was a quirky yet relevant excursion into heavy synth pop. The track was incredibly danceable and few people realizing what the song was about.

King In A Catholic Style [China Crisis]—-Yet another track that carried a socially conscious message that got lost behind the synth and the pleasant vocal delivery. The song has a heavy level of emotion, but the poppy music overwhelms the message and turns it into a feel good track.

Steady [Jules Shear]—-An almost bluesy intro into the world of synth. The song is a pleasant, sexy romp into the fringes of soul and R N B….this is seductive and sexy…I really like this….

Our Lips Are Sealed [The Fun Boy Three]—-Most people attribute this song to California New Wavers The Go-Go’s, but be rest assured, these were the architects  of the original and the fun is apparent even in their toned down version. Great re visit to a classic that got done and redone.

Pleasure And Pain [Divinyls]—-Early cross over hit for the shock new wavers that would hit the US charts years later…the band only proves here that they paid their dues.

Birds Fly [Whisper To A Scream] {The Icicle Works]—-I can tell you from personal experience, that nothing this band ever recorded sounded like this song…it is an anomaly that was never to be repeated. The band, as a nature is much more punk oriented and aggressive…this hit was a fluke that remains one of my favorite songs to this very day. The song moves at an incredible drum fueled pace that is magnificent…this is one of a kind.

The Honeythief [Hipsway]—-another one of those bands that were never able to transfer their success to the US. This is a wonderful release and a mainstay in any ones collection that takes the 80’s seriously. This is a nice jazz/R N B infused track that just reeks of slickness.

Souvenir [Rubber Rodeo]—-The song features both male and female vocals…both of which are very catchy and pleasant. The song moves at a nice pace and makes you really glad that you are able to experience it. This is nice, I love the harmonies and the great synth mixed with the live instruments.

I Wanna Be A Cowboy [Boys Don’t Cry]—-One of the most stupid and sexually improper songs ever recorded…I’m ashamed that I have a copy of it…..

The Captain Of Her Heart [Double]—-Ok…. I know someone else did this song, but the name escapes me now….Bryan Ferry? …..anyways, a smooth and seductive song that makes you feel sexy if only for the piano and sax alone. This is wonderful. I love it!!!

When Your Heart Is Weak [Cock Robin]—-Again, the song begins rather sedate and takes on a more synth oriented beat by the first bar. The vocal is emotive and intense, the music driving the emotion to higher and higher levels. This is magnificent, another band I did not know, but do now. Great!

Love Changes [Climie Fischer]—-Nicely infused with a synth line that fits into the 80’s, and a vocal that makes me think of Rod Stewart from the very first note. The song reminds me of that whole time, and perhaps he remade this song at one point or another. None the less, the vocal is top notch and the music fits nicely into the 80’s genre.

More Than Physical [Bananarama]—-The song is driven by a huge and powerful synth line that just makes you feel sexy and dancy. The vocal is breathy and seductive. This is nice, I remember the awe that it brought to the dance floor upon the chorus…very nice and a tad bit ahead of its time.

Vanity Kills [ABC]—-A seductive and smooth delivery just builds on the reputation of the suave Gentlemen. This is a wonderful song that is full of layers and glimmer. Fry delivers a vocal that is both seductive and condescending…wonderful!!!!

We Close Our Eyes [Go West]—-The band would go on to become sweethearts of the US charts for a time, but it was fleeting and not meant to last. The sound of the band varied very little and perhaps that was the downfall, This is nice, but too predictable.

***1/2 out of 5

Living In Oblivion/The 80’s Greatest Hits Part 4

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on 260000008-04:00 12 by marky7235

Disc 4:

Dance Hall Days [Wang Chung]—-Perhaps the prize winner for the oddet name for a band, Wang Chung hit the charts in a huge way with this synth inspired, New Wave sounding classic that appealed to all of those who lived on the dance floors in the 80’s. The song has a great manufactured dance groove and a vocal that sems removed and almost emotionless. This is wonderful, a keen example of the excess of the decade.

One Thing Leads To Another [The Fixx]—-In my opinion, one of the best bands of the 80’s. Managing to expel a message of social consciousness and a damn danceable beat, combined with interpretive videos and the exotic looks of singer Cy Curin. I will never forget seeing The Fixx, A Flock Of Seagulls and The Go-Go’s at Blossom Music Center in 1985. Brilliant!!!

True [Spandau Ballet]—-Perhaps the Tour-De -Force of classic 80’s pop. The boys were slick suited, greased back hair suave-ness. The vocal was smooth and sweet. The videos were beautiful and polished. Could we have asked for anything more in the Reagan era of dis-enfranchised feeling? The saxophone is SOOOO sexy!

Come On Eileen [Dexy’s Midnight Runners]—-Led by front man Kevin Rowland, this band was way, way, way larger in the UK than here in the States. The band continued to make music for a few years overseas before Rowland went on to a very successful solo career. Always a staple on 80’s nights, the video is just awesome!!!

Digging Your Scene [The Blow Monkeys]—-Falling much in the vein of Johnny Hates Jazz, Curiosity Killed The Cat and Icehouse, perhaps that was the band’s downfall. The sound became prevalent in the British late 80’s and the scene could only tolerate so many bands and this one fell off rather suddenly. The sound is smooth and the vocals are really accessible, but the comparisons surely did this band in.

Sister Of Mercy [The Thompson Twins]—-Beginning a bit dour, as the Brits would day, this song is a departure of sorts for the synth and percussion heavy band. The opening strains show the vocal talent and the atmosphere of the track seems to develop as the song opens up. This is masterful and dark….once the song truly opens up, the feeling stays with you despite the more hyper beat. That is the structure of a great song. Despite the noise of other instruments, the song keeps the same morose elements that are in the back of the song reminding you that you should not be glad. Wow!!!

Under The Milky Way [The Church]—-Marking the beginning elements of the Goth community making the mark on the charts, this song was a dark and slightly morose ode that rode the Alt charts for quite some time. The band was never to reach this pinnacle again, but continues to plod forward and record to this day[See 7/26/2009 Post]. The vocal is a wonderful baritone of emotion. The music is minimal yet effective, even when the whole band kicks in, the song still holds a solitude aura. Wonderful.

Lean On Me [Red Box]—-An incredible masterpiece of a song that was never heard by anyone. This is a heavily Celtic flavored song that is so damn catchy, you can’t resist playing it twice in a row. This is brilliant….where were these guys when I needed them?

Since Yesterday [Strawberry Switchblade]—-A sweet and delicious mixture of 50’s  pompadour music combined with unforgettable 80’s synth make for a great romp through thirty years!! This is incredible in style, effects and synth. Wow…you have to hear this!!!

You Don’t Know [Scarlett & Black]—-Irresistible smooth pop composed by ignored members of The New Romantic movement of the British 80’s  sound. This is a really great song, well constructed and layered with live sounds and machine generated beats. The vocal is a sweet, pleasing delivery that sticks to your bones. Really nice!

Some People [Belouis Some]—-Hugely and immensely popular in England, the bands sound never seemed to catch on in the States. This song is a wonderful anthem that makes you dance real hard and feel like you are dancing for something….for equality, for a statement, for a person…for a reason. That is the power of makes you feel something, and you feel something, and you feel something……

Shock [The Motels]—-Combining all the elements of the hits that placed then on the US charts, the one thing that always shines is the vocal of Martha Davis, this women feels through her voice and it works really well. The music is acceptable, but the voice is the masterful effect that makes the band feel large and complete. Nice!!

Belly Of The Whale [Burning Sensations]—-OK, whatever….this is acceptable, it is a cheap imitation of the finest The B-52’s have to offer….the music is that odd and eclectic. The song never seems to take a definite direction….the sound is all over the place…I really don’t like this. Inconsistent.

Tenderness {General Public]—-Beautiful!!!! One of the finest constructed songs in the 80’s songbook. The band keeps its SKA roots, but allows in a pop element that just makes it irresistible. This band lay-ed the groundwork for bands like No Doubt and Sublime. This is delicious!!!!

Get Out Of London [Intraferon]—-More on the edge of the burgeoning Punk movement, this collection remarkably marks the turning points of the genre as it branched off into a very confusing family tree. This is very Clash, very The Knack…a schizophrenic search for identity. Nice!!!

Go [Tones On Tails]—-Another band that crossed over into mass audiences. This band was on the forefront of the emerging Goth scene circa 1985 or so. The sound is very different, combining the synth elements of the early 80’s, but also, an almost removed vocal that reeks of alienation and a lack of feeling. A wonderful study in the turning tide of the 80’s scene.

Slang Teacher [Wide Boy Awake]—-An unnecessary inclusion of an obscure track that means nothing. This is just hyper machine driven slop that the label added to make 5 volumes.

Lawnchair [Our Daughter’s Wedding]—-Again, the synth driven machine music is admirable…the vocal is a waste of time. Not to mention the lyrical content which is just plain stupid. I would love to have an instrumental version of this track though.

Mexican Radio [Wall Of Voodoo]—-This disc seems to be full of non sensical songs that passed us by in a minute. It is nice to revisit this song on occassion, but I rarely stay fro the whole visit!

*** out of 5


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Living In Oblivion/The 80’s Greatest Hits Part 3

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on 260000008-04:00 12 by marky7235

Disc 3:

Fascination [The Human League]—-A brilliant follow up to the massive sales of Dare, this EP shows The League at a creative high point. The male and female vocals play off of each other in a brilliant way and the synth pop is an irresistible serving of the best stuff around. Oakey delivers a vocal that is so remote and un emotional that the feelings manage to pour off of them. Brilliant!

Perfect Way [Scritti Pollitti]—-An absolutely huge band in England, the US as usual missed the boat with this phenomenal band. The vocal is masterful and the music is a nice R N B tinged journey through everything that defined the 80’s. This song is Teflon…nothing can stick to it except for the strobe lights on the dance floor. Wonderful!!!

Cruel Summer [Bananarama]—-American synth pop that never really appealed to me. The vocal harmonies are nice and well constructed, but the recipe seems worn out and tired. the general public embraced this band though and they managed to score a number of hits throughout the 80’s. Not synth enough for me or original enough for my tastes.

Life In A Northern Town [The Dream Academy]—-An absolute wonderful excursion into everything that was anti-80’s. The track reeks of the 60’s and an underlying psychedelia that warmed my heart and brought goosebumps to my body. Still a favorite of mine, I never tire of the emotion and waves of nostalgia that this song holds. Beautiful!!!

Election Day [Arcadia]—–Formed when other members of Duran Duran  were recording with The Power Station, the band had minor success in the US and UK…minor compared to the gigantic machine that Duran2 had become. the band had the burden of the ultra familiar vocals of Simon LeBon, and that only added to the confusion at a time when off shoots of popular bands was still a new phenomenon. The song does reek of Duran2 and perhaps that was the initial problem. Features a great backing vocal from Island Diva Grace Jones!!!

Shattered Dreams [Johnny Hates Jazz]—-Atypical British serenaders, this band had a polished and shiny feel to the musical delivery. the harmonies are exquisite, and the music is very reminiscent of every track that The Thompson Twins ever recorded. A great piece of history, but only a glimmering streak of what was to come from over the pond.

Sunglasses At Night [Corey Hart]—-Canadian Hart hit the airwaves in the early to mid 80’s with this classic. I can clearly remember he and The Pet Shop Boysfighting for the number one spot on the US charts. The appeal of the almost deadpan vocals, combined with a great video and a really attractive face helped hart to take the #1 spot for a number of weeks in the US. Undeniably catchy and unforgettable.

The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades [Timbuk 3]—-The epitome of the one hit wonder, Timbuk exploded and quickly diffused. Combining a Southern flair to their sound, the band reeked of Southern Fried Rock that never really went anywhere. Not a big fan…excuse me while I fast forward…….

Make A Circuit With Me [The Polecats]—-With a song title that seemed to belong on a Tubeway Army release, the band relied on real instruments and a very British sound that hearkens 60’s folk rock. This is a damn catchy song and one that I missed the first time around. A wonderful listen…the song moves with a gentle urgency that keeps your attention. I love this.

Rock This Town [Stray Cats]—-Perhaps this bands biggest hit, the song was heaped with a healthy dose of rock-a-billy and a wonderful, fun video. The standing bass again propels the pace of the track, and the drums are a nice mix of jazz infused percussion. This is a nice visit…but I have no desire to stay there.

Sidewalk Talk [Jellybean]—-Jellybean was a NY DJ who became romantically involved with pre famous Madonna. Jellybean was largely responsible for breaking Madonna to the NY club scene and in return, Madonna wrote and supplied vocals to this gritty New York mix. the song has a nice street feel, but as you listen back on it, also has a consistent early Madonna sound. This is a piece of history and the rest of this album was really great also. Check it out. It is amazing how powerful Madonna’s vocal were even back in the early 80’s…a masterful delivery.

It’s My Life [Talk Talk]—-Undeniably, the high point of this bands recording career…many people listening to music today only know this song because of the No Doubt remake…get educated and check out the masterful delivery of the original. The synth lines are masterful and the vocal is a dark and eerie piece of incredible energy. Classic!!!

[I Just] Died In Your Arms [Cutting Crew]—-Another British masterpiece of a band that never caught on here in the States. the song has a feel of desperation and sadness that overwhelms the poppy element of the song…not only does the music carry this flavor, but the vocal reeks of it. There is pain and disappointment and a certain synth line that I’m sure is stolen from Der Kommissar.

Hanging On A Heart Attack [Device]—–Now……I know nothing about this band! This is a synth lover’s dream come true. The song is huge!!!! the vocal is a British emotive accented masterpiece that follows a huge bass beat that just transports you back in time…magnificent!!! Need I say more?

Poison Arrow [ABC]—-The leaders of The New Romantic movement, this band always delivered a shiny and polished delivery that never deviated. You always knew what to expect from Martin Fryand Co. Although in the latter years, the band adopted a nicer, more mellow r N B flavor, this song catches them at their musical and video high point. This is timeless.

AEIOU Sometimes Y [EBN OZN]—-Beginning with a great spoken “Toto…..I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore!”, the song dissolves into a dirge of odd musical sounds and spoken word interludes that I’m not sure would play well anywhere. The synth lines are undeniably catchy, but the vocal incantations are unnecessary drivel…I would love to just have the musical track.

Are You Sure [So]—-Another 80’s styled band that I have been unaware of until this time…if you have info, pass it on. The song has a layered British sound that is damn catchy and undeniable. I love the jazz infused sound that was obvious around the mid 80’s. this song has a big, polished sound that appeals to me a great deal.

The Way You Are [Tears For Fears]—-Now….this band has had many. many hits, but this song ranks way up there with me. The song includes all of the elements that made this band huge, but the sound is not as polished or refined…this I like. The trade off of vocals on the chorus give the song a nice full feel….I always listen to this way before I listen to the better known classics from this band. Wonderful!!!

What Do All The People Know [The Monroes]—-Okay….who is this band? The sound fits in perfectly with the sound of the 80’s, but the name and vocal is foreign to me. I love the handclaps that run through the song, and the pace moves at a great momentum. Overall a pleasant listen, but not a band that I have sought out info on.

****1/2 out of 5