Saturday, October 31, 2015
"Mama" performed by Genesis
"Climbing Up The Walls" performed by Radiohead
"Burn The Witch" performed by Queens Of The Stone Age
"Asylum" performed by Supertramp
"Once Upon A Daydream" performed by The Police
October 2, 2015
"Melt The Guns" performed by XTC
"Valentine's Day" performed by David Bowie
"American Skin (41 Shots)" performed by Bruce Springsteen
"Tug Of War" performed by Paul McCartney
"Back On The Street" performed by Utopia
"The Vagabond" performed by Air with Beck
"Games People Play" performed by The Alan Parsons Project
"Ordinary Pain" performed by Stevie Wonder
"Yo Mama" performed by Frank Zappa
October 3, 2015
"Doctor Robert" performed by The Beatles
"Silver Rainbow" performed by Genesis
"Idioteque" performed by Radiohead
"In A Hand Or A Face" performed by The Who
"Get By" performed by Talib Kweli
"I Am Not My Hair" performed by India.Arie featuring Akon
"I Must Go" performed by Lindsey Buckingham
"Say What!" performed by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
"Here I Come" performed by The Roots
October 4, 2015
"Life On Mars" performed by David Bowie
"Rocket Man" performed by Elton John
"Interstellar Overdrive" performed by Pink Floyd
"Why Me?" performed by Planet P. Project
"Space Baby" performed by The Tubes
"Emily" performed by Joanna Newsom
"We Are All Made Of Stars" performed by Moby
"The Galaxy Song" from "Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life"
"Starman" performed by David Bowie
October 5, 2015
"Monday" performed by Jon Brion
"Monday's Rain" performed by The Bee Gees
"Crying Like A Church On Monday" performed by New Radicals
"Make It Till Monday" performed by The Verve
"Monday Morning Blues" performed by Mississippi John Hurt
HAPPY 72ND BIRTHDAY TO STEVE MILLER
"Gangster Of Love" (live)
The Steve Miller Band performance of The Midnight Special 1974
"Gentle Ben" performed by Post Social-WSPC PREMIERE
"Driven To Tears" (live in Essen) performed by The Police
"Force Ten" performed by Rush
"Juarez" performed by Tori Amos
"The Package" performed by A Perfect Circle
October 6, 2015
"Sun Comes Up It's Tuesday Morning" performed by The Cowboy Junkies
"Ruby Tuesday" performed by The Rolling Stones
"Sweet Tuesday Morning" performed by The Iveys
"Love You Till Tuesday" performed by David Bowie
"Hooray For Tuesday" performed by The Minders
"Tuesday Heartbreak" performed by Stevie Wonder
"On A Tuesday In Amsterdam Long Ago" performed by Counting Crows
"Tuesday Morning" performed by The Pogues
"Stray Dog" performed by New Order with Iggy Pop-WSPC PREMIERE
"Wall" performed by Post Social-WSPC PREMIERE
"Gesceap" performed by Tortoise-WSPC PREMIERE
"Watcher Of The Skies" (live from Shepperton Studios Halloween 1973) performed by Genesis
"My Love's Leaving" performed by Steve Winwood
October 7, 2015
"Waiting For Wednesday" performed by Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories
"It's Already Wednesday" performed by Freya
"Wednesday Morning Dew" performed by Majic Ship
"Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M." performed by Simon and Garfunkel
"Wednesday Week" performed by The Undertones
"Wednesday Girl" performed by The JetSet
"Wednesday's Song" performed by John Frusciante
"Wednesday Morning" performed by America
"Some Girls Bigger Than Others" performed by The Smiths
"The Trap" performed by Johnny Marr
"Future Games" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Green Screen" performed by Post Social-WSPC PREMIERE
October 8, 2015
"Thursday Here's Why I Didn't Go To Work Today)" performed by Nilsson
"Jersey Thursday" performed by Donovan
"Thursday Morning" performed by Giles, Giles and Fripp
"Rain Every Thursday" performed by Bobby Hutcherson
"Thursday" performed by Jim Croce
"Sweet Thursday" performed by Matt Costa
"Thursday's Child" performed by David Bowie
"The Less That I Know The Better" (live on "Late Night with Stephen Colbert") performed by Tame Impala
October 9, 2015
"Friday" performed by Joe Jackson
"Friday's Child" performed by Nancy Sinatra
"Friday" performed by J.J. Cale
"Friday Street" performed by Paul Weller
"Friday I'm In Love" performed by The Cure
"Imagine" performed by John Lennon
"Midland Maniac" performed by Steve Winwood
"Feel So Glad" performed by The Steve Miller Band
"High Roller" performed by Cheap Trick
"Machine Gun" performed by Jimi Hendrix with Band Of Gypsys
"Happiness Is A Warm Gun" performed by Tori Amos
October 10, 2015
"Saturdays Kids" performed by The Jam
"A Month Of Saturdays" performed by R.E.M.
"Drive-In Saturday" performed by David Bowie
"Saturday Sun" performed by Crowded House
"(Do You Remember) Saturday Gigs" performed by Mott The Hoople
"Come Saturday Morning" performed by The Sandpipers
"A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturday" performed by De La Soul
"Saturday Night" performed by Bay City Rollers
"Saturday Night" performed by Suede
"Almost Saturday Night" performed by Ricky Nelson
"Saturday Love" performed by Cherrelle with Alexander O'Neal
"Juke Box Saturday Night" performed by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra
October 11, 2015
"A Sunday Kind Of Love" performed by Beth Rowley
"Another Park, Another Sunday" performed by The Doobie Brothers
"Lazy Sunday Afternoon" performed by The Small Faces
"Sunday Sunday" performed by Blur
"Sunday" performed by Nick Drake
"Sunny Sunday" performed by Joni Mitchell
"A Sunday Smile" performed by Beirut
October 12, 2015
"Doctor, Doctor" performed by Thompson Twins
"I Don't Need No Doctor" (live at the Fillmore 1971) performed by Humble Pie
"Sick And Tired" performed by The Cardigans
"Shake The Disease" performed by Depeche Mode
"Weakness" performed by Todd Rundgren
October 13, 2015
"mercy" performed by The Innocence Mission
"For Love" performed by Lush
"Undertow" performed by Ivy
"Wicked Things" performed by Prefab Sprout
"On The Mend" performed by Foo Fighters
"Haunt Me" performed by Post Social-WSPC PREMIERE
"Her Ghost" performed by Jon Brion
"Full Moon" performed by The Kinks
"The Ghost" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Idee Fixe" performed by Dash Hounds-WSPC PREMIERE
October 14, 2015
"People On The High Line" performed by New Order-WSPC PREMIERE
"Spice Train" performed by Thomas Dolby
"Beverly Terrace" performed by Sloan
"Free Life" performed by Natalie Maines
"Devil Woman" performed by Cliff Richard
October 15, 2015
"When The Night Comes" performed by Jeff Lynne's E.L.O.-WSPC PREMIERE
"Vara Snabb" performed by Dungen
"Ascension Day" performed by Talk Talk
"Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt" performed by DJ Shadow
October 16, 2015
HAPPY 62ND BIRTHDAY TO TONY CAREY
"The Cold Norh Wind"
"Along The Ponchartrain"
"What I See-Part 1" performed by Planet P. Project
"Good Little Soldiers" performed by Planet P Project
"A Fine, Fine Day"
October 17, 2015
"Academic" performed by New Order-WSPC PREMIERE
"Cop And Go" performed by The Dead Weather-WSPC PREMIERE
"Some Days Are Better Than Others" performed by U2
"Ohio" performed by Post Social-WSPC PREMIERE
"Bargain" performed by The Who
October 20, 2015
"Vow" performed by Garbage
"Came Back Haunted" performed by Nine Inch Nails
"There There" performed by Radiohead
"Ava Adore" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"I Don't Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)" performed by Marilyn Manson
"These Walls" (live at Kennedy Center) performed by Kendrick Lamar with the National Symphony Orchestra-WSPC PREMIERE
"Second Skin" performed by Shannon Connor-WSPC PREMIERE
October 21, 2015
"Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" performed by The Beatles
"Witch's Rave" performed by Jeff Buckley
"Magic" performed by Olivia Newton-John
"Sisters Of The Moon" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Scared" performed by John Lennon
"Socialism" performed by Hypnopaedia-WSPC PREMIERE
October 22, 2015
"Divine Intervention" performed by Matthew Sweet
"The Lie In Me" performed by Jason Falkner
"Build That Wall" performed by Aimee Mann
"Please Sister" performed by The Cardigans
"Silence Is Golden" performed by Garbage
October 23, 2015
HAPPY 20TH ANNIVERSARY TO THE SMASHING PUMPKINS'
"MELLON COLLIE AND THE INFINITE SADNESS"
"Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness"
"Tonight, Tonight" (string only version)
"Where Boys Fear To Tread"
"Porcelina Of The Vast Oceans"
"Rebel Yell" performed by Billy Idol
"Coming For You" performed by Ric Ocasek
"The Blood Is Love" performed by Queens Of The Stone Age
"Gonna Raise Hell" performed by Cheap Trick
October 24, 2015
"Moss Garden" performed by David Bowie
"Autumn Sweater" performed by Tortoise
"Remote Viewing" performed by Tangerine Dream
"Mane Imbrium" performed by Andy Summers-WSPC PREMIERE
"October" performed by U2
"Brooklyn" performed by Youngblood Brass Band
"Time Is Running Out Fast" performed by JAMES BROWN
"Mutiny" (line on "Arsenio") performed by Prince & The New Power Generation
October 25, 2015
"I've Seen All Good People" performed by Yes
"Pop Star" performed by Cat Stevens
"The Apologist" performed by R.E.M.
"Hell To Pay" performed by Paul McCartney
"The Fall" performed by Electric Light Orchestra
"We Let The Stars Go" performed by Prefab Sprout
"Big Sister's Clothes" performed by Elvis Costello and the Attractions
October 26, 2015
"Halloween" performed by Siouxsie and the Banshees
"Ghost Town" performed by The Specials
"Wicked Annabella" performed by The Kinks
"Season Of The Witch" performed by Donovan
"Your Auntie Grizelda" performed by The Monkees
"Somebody's Watching Me" performed by Rockwell with Michael Jackson
HAPPY 42ND ANNIVERSARY TO THE WHO'S "QUADROPHENIA"
"The Punk And The Godfather"
"I've Had Enough"
"Four Faces" Pete Townshend demo
"Wizardry" Pete Townshend demo
"Is It In My Head?"
"Phantom Living" performed by The Fixx
"Tiny Demons" performed by Todd Rundgren
October 27, 2015
"Freaks Come Out At Night" performed by Whodini
"The Boogie Monster" performed by Gnarls Barkley
"Nightmare Strut" performed by J.C. and the Soul Angels
"The Spook Who Sat By The Door" performed by Herbie Hancock
"Haunted House" performed by Lee Oskar
"Creature Feature" performed by Billy Preston
"I Hear Voices" performed by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
October 28, 2015
"Ballet For A Rainy Day/1000 Umbrellas" performed by XTC
"Come Rain Or Come Shine" performed by Ray Charles
"Umbrella" performed by Rhianna featuring Jay-Z
"Falling Rain Blues" performed by Lonnie Johnson
"Early Morning Rain" performed by Gordon Lightfoot
"Here Comes The Rain Again" performed by Eurythmics
"The Rain" performed by Missy Elliot
October 29, 2015
"Ghost Highway" performed by Mazzy Star
"People Are Strange" performed by The Doors
"Freak Parade" performed by Todd Rundgren's Utopia
"The Witch" performed by The Sonics
"Frankenstein" (live) performed by The Edgar Winter Group
"Around The Dial" performed by The Kinks
"One Step At A Time" performed by Jeff Lynne's Electric Light Orchestra-WSPC PREMIERE
"The Crooked Beat" performed by The Clash
"Nothing But A Fool" performed by New Order-WSPC PREMIERE
"Sex Is Not The Enemy" performed by Garbage
"D.J." performed by David Bowie
October 30, 2015
"Brilliant Mistake" performed by Elvis Costello
"Birds Of Paradise" performed by Pretenders
"'Till The Next Goodbye" performed by The Rolling Stones
"Time Has Told Me" performed by Nick Drake
"Tree Of Knowledge" performed by The Pursuit Of Happiness
"Halloweenhead" performed by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
"Spooky" performed by Dusty Springfield
"Fire On High" performed by Electric Light Orchestra
"Night On Bald Mountain" composed by Mussorgsky
"All Nightmare Long" performed by Metallica
October 31, 2015
"Everyday Is Halloween" performed by Ministry
"Dead Man's Party" performed by Oingo Boingo
"This Is Halloween" performed by Danny Elfman
"Superstition" (live 1973) performed by Stevie Wonder
"Thriller" performed by Michael Jackson
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
FRANK ZAPPA AND THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION
Released May 26, 1967
Released March 3, 1979
PLANET P. PROJECT
Released April 7, 1978
Released April 26, 1982
THE STEVE MILLER BAND
Released November 1969
Released September 25, 2015
NEW 2015 MUSIC: Steve Manley, you are an evil, evil man!!!! Just kidding, my friend. I only say those words (purely in jest, of course) because Steve has once again pointed me towards a band that has fully captured my attention, so much so that (as you will see on this list), I have excitedly begun heading backwards through their discography.
The band is Dungen and they hail from Stockholm, Sweden and sing in their native language as well. The name of the band translates (if I am to believe Wikipedia) as "The Groove," which feels more than appropriate as the band has somehow channeled a certain early 1970's psychedelic rock palate where extended instrumentals with loads of Jethro Tull-ish flute passages, no less) can co-exist with heavily melodic pop songs, guitar heroics, free flowing drums and whatever else the band feels that they can get away with tossing into their musical stew.
Their latest album, the band's first release in four years, continues upon this path making for an experience that is completely engrossing even though I am unable to understand even one word that is being sung. But isn't that the great thing about music and its ability to transcend language by creating a universal language? And trust me, "Allas Sak" is one of my musical highlights of the year.
Released October 31, 1983
Released September 14, 2010
THE BEAD WEATHER
Released September 25, 2015
NEW 2015 MUSIC: This is going to come as a bit of a surprise to you but, despite the praise the album has received through music publications and fans, for me, I really think this album is a bit of a dud.
This third album from The Dead Weather, their first in five years, is a release that finds the unit as vigorous as ever, and performing with force and fury (trust me, this is Jack White's finest performances behind the drum kit to date) but somehow, someway, it all feels so flat, so "been there-done that," and frankly, so boring. These feelings completely startled me, especially as much as I loved the band's first two albums. But, I do think that as of late, White is beginning to become an insufferable parody of himself with his faux blues purity and completely recycled Zeppelin riffs and wannabe hip-hop swagger.
There are some good moments on this new release but for the most part, "Dodge And Burn," just felt like the outtakes from the band's previous and better albums...or quite possibly, unused riffs that they just decided to get themselves around to. The freshness and excitement of the past was not present for me and in ways, it felt as if the band is just going through the motions instead of feeling truly inspired. Lead singer Alison Mosshart continues to squeal and scream, Guitarist Dean Fertita continues to channel White's guitar fireworks and as for Jack White III himself, well...I think he fashions himself to now be some sort of a rapper, and the masquerade is something that I am not certain is all that convincing.
I would hate for this band to go the way into White Stripes predictability and find themselves boxed into becoming prefabricated poseurs but for this album, they are coming dangerously close. Will The Raconteurs please return anytime soon????
Released September 29, 2008
THE STEVE MILLER BAND
Released November 1970
THE STEVE MILLER BAND
Released June 16, 1969
Released May 10, 2011
Original Release August 15, 1995/20th Anniversary Edition Release October 2, 2015
Released October 1, 2001
"BLEED LIKE ME"
Released April 12, 2005
Released May 11, 1998
NINE INCH NAILS
Released May 5, 2008
HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS
Released March 5, 2013
ELVIS COSTELLO AND THE ATTRACTIONS
Released February 15, 1980
Friday, October 23, 2015
20 YEARS OF QUEER
LIVE AT THE ORPHEUM THEATER
OCTOBER 18, 2015
DUKE ERIKSON: Guitars, Keyboards, Synthesizers
SHIRLEY MANSON: Vocals, Guitar
STEVE MARKER: Guitars, Keyboards, Synthesizers
BUTCH VIG: Drums, Programming
ERIC AVERY: Bass Guitar
On the weekend of October 16-18, 2015, Madison, WI celebrated Homecoming weekend for the University Of Wisconsin-Madison, complete with parades, pep rallies, alumni reunions and of course, the Wisconsin Badgers football game. Yet, on the evening of Sunday, October 18th, another major homecoming event occurred in the city, yet one that was completely unaffiliated with my beloved alma mater, but undeniably of no less importance to the participants and to all who were graced to attend.
The event was the heroic return of Madison's very own Garbage, the alternative rock band formulated by Madisonians Duke Erikson, Steve Marker and Butch Vig plus Scottish import, the unrivaled Shirley Manson, on the celebration of the group's 20th anniversary at the historic Orpheum Theater located on the equally legendary State Street. The first and previous time I had the good fortune to witness this band was at this very same theater on April 7, 2013, as Garbage settled into one of their final stops on their then year long tour supporting their fifth album "Not Your Kind Of People" (released May 14, 2012).
That 2013 performance was a sledgehammer of a victory lap for the band, a fully triumphant concert which arrived after a seven year hiatus, a most lengthy spell that made me seriously question if the band had indeed run their course. Thankfully and powerfully, that evening proved to me not only that Garbage is unquestionably one of our GREAT bands, as demonstrated with one GREAT song after another GREAT song, that night also confirmed that the story of Garbage was far from over. That night, Garbage delivered a performance that showcased their longevity and their superior vitality and it completely re-defined what it means to be a "roof raiser.".
The performance this past Sunday night surpassed it.
With that new information, I was then somewhat surprised to see how long the line of concert goers actually already was, with people beginning at the Associated Bank on the corner of State Street and elongating along the length of the parking ramp that I had just emerged from and even then, threatening to move along to the next block by the downtown campus of Madison Area Technical College, widely abbreviated at MATC. I raced to the front of the theater to grab a quick photo of the marquee and then, I raced back to claim my spot in line. As I waited over the following 45 minutes, I engaged in a hearty conversation with concert travelers from Appleton, WI, as well as regarded new arrivals, several of whom were adorned with pink feather boas, all in tribute to the cover of Garbage's self-titled debut album (released August 15, 1995), which the band was scheduled to perform in its entirety, plus all of the b-side singles and rarities from the period between 1995-1996.
Undeniably, the evening was not about the brilliant light show. This was a celebratory night about the songs themselves. As promised, the band performed every track from the debut album from the hits like "Queer," "Stupid Girl," and "Only Happy When It Rains" to the deep cuts like "My Lover's Box," "Milk" and the downright pile driving "Vow," with that refrain so cleverly lifted from The Beatles' "No Reply," and as promised all of the b-sides and rarities, including my personal favorite, the menacing and pummeling "#1 Crush."
One aspect about the evening's set list that I especially enjoyed was the unpredictability of the running order. I had envisioned that Garbage would essentially perform the album from top to bottom in sequence and then follow with the b-sides and rarities afterwards. They did not and frankly, I think this speaks to the very unique nature of the band members of Garbage as the group is made up of music fans as well as artists and producers. These are individuals who intuitively understand what it means to craft an album as opposed to a live performance, and how each one needs to be cultivated differently in order to achieve the maximum effect. Running the album in sequence would have lended itself to a certain predictability, no matter how ferociously the songs were performed. So, opening the show with a b-side, and then playing the full album out of sequence, with b-sides and rarities mixed within was a masterstroke. You never knew what was coming next and were just thrilled when the songs finally arrived.
Additionally, this almost hodge-podge fashion allowed certain album tracks that may have been slept on to various degrees depending upon each and every listener, to be re-examined as it has essentially been re-contextualized within the show. For me, the propulsive "As Heaven Is Wide" carried more weight than I had previously felt and with Shirley Manson's additional recitation of The Lord's Prayer during the track's outro, my mind quickly merged the song to be in league with nothing less than Prince's "Controversy."
The atmospheric "A Stroke Of Luck" was another track that demonstrated a power that I hadn't quite felt before in the 20 years that I have been listening to this album and band. The psychedelic qualities of the song emerged so vibrantly, also illustrating just what great songwriters the members of Garbage truly are, as they are able to reference music's past, wear their influences upon their sleeves so overtly and yet, make music that still sounds as if it was recorded and realized in the future. The multi-layers of the sonic qualities are jaw dropping to be true, but the song's structures and construction...that's where the gold lives and the entire night was filled with nothing but top flight examples of classic songwriting combined with furious innovation.
I especially loved the tributes Manson made to both the music and songwriting of The Jam and Vic Chesnutt as Garbage performed the rare cover songs of "The Butterfly Collector" (which I honestly had never heard before this night) and the stunning, heartbreaking "Kick My Ass," two examples of their own fandom as well as providing everyone in the Orpheum a bit of music education and history. For if you loved those two songs, then please do find your way to the musical discographies of both artists, influencing and inspiring us to explore the music that inspired and influenced Garbage.
And as I recount my memories and the feelings I experienced during this concert, I have to say that it was through elements like the ones I have already described as well as further insight I have yet to share, Garbage's 20th anniversary performance while dynamic and epic, was actually quite an intimate show. Remember, this was Homecoming weekend in Madison, and for Garbage their ownhomecoming made for quite an emotional evening for the audience I would imagine, as well as for themselves.
This may sound terribly naive to some of you out there, but I really do believe in the transformative power of music. Furthermore, I firmly believe that a concert experience, at its finest, can be about even more than just having a good night out or hearing your favorite songs being performed in front of you. There is a communal power of the shared experience at work, and a great show can even transcend the music even while the music is precisely what has bound everyone together for the experience in the first place. This 20th anniversary performance by Garbage was indeed one of those very shows that did transcend the music while the music held us all together, and powerfully so.
Shirley Manson, who remains one of the GREAT lead singers, proved herself to be a hostess of tremendous grace, as well as armed with a wicked wit, as she spun one story after another during a few lengthy portions of the show where she simply spoke to us. As she recalled her times living in Madison at the Edgewater Hotel, or purchasing coffee from Ancora, the nights at the now defunct Cafe Montmartre or her arrival to Madison at the Dane County Airport which led to her first night in a bizarrely lurid hotel room at Inn On The Park, I would be hard pressed to think that everyone, especially those who were also living in Madison like myself, were not also transported to where and furthermore, who they were in 1995.
For me, I was 26 years old, working in a bookstore, my life as a teacher not even a thought yet, in a long term relationship but not married yet, and movies, writing and music as much of a source of passion as it is today. Garbage was indeed a crucial piece of that puzzle during that time, especially as the now defunct Smart Studios was a building I drove past on a daily basis (and I still do) and I could not help but to wonder what musical dreams were being hatched inside of that extremely non-descript building that people would otherwise walk/drive past without a second thought.
It really struck me on this night how perfect this specific collection of songs actually happens to be as they just nailed who this band is, and would further become, from the beginning. These are songs with an overt sexuality and eroticism, but the dark romance of the songs really creates the tension. Beyond affairs of the heart, the music of Garbage aims simultaneously higher and deeper as every track from the debut album plus b-sides and rarities, all center themselves around precarious and powerful emotional terrain, from anger, rage and revenge, to desire, damage and devotion. We hear the feelings of anguish and anxiety, destruction and reconstruction, love's labor, loss and liberation, and finally, euphoria and most importantly, discovering full empowerment. And to think, this band encompassed all of those feats the very first time with songs all written, produced and created right here in Madison, the city where this band and these relationships were born. If you are still with me, I think you can gather what I mean about the concert transcending the music while the music held us in blissful sync. These songs are now as much about all of us as they are about the individuals who created them, making for a catalog that is as personal as it is populist.
Before the encore, Butch Vig took the mic and announced to the audience that the band was "95%' completed with recording their sixth album, which they hope to have mixed and mastered over the holidays to have it ready for a hopeful May 2016 release. With that news, my heart just erupted for I strongly feel that music deeply needs the artistry and influence of Garbage more than ever and the promise of new material is already shining an enormous light on '16 for me.
Yet, with even greater hopes, I wish that if they choose to tour again, Garbage returns to Madison one more time ready to blow us all apart and possessed with the full knowledge that we will all welcome them home with the widest open arms, ears and hearts.
All photos by Scott Collins
Friday, October 16, 2015
BERNARD SUMNER: Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Synthesizers
STEPHEN MORRIS: Drums, Percussion, Keyboards, Synthesizers, Drum Programming
GILLIAN GILBERT: Keyboards and Synthesizers
PHIL CUNNINGHAM: Guitars, Keyboards, Synthesizers, Electronic Percussion
TOM CHAPMAN: Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Synthesizers, Backing Vocals
All music and lyrics by New Order except
"Singularity" and "Unlearn This Hatred" music and lyrics by New Order and Tom Rowlands
"Superheated" music and lyrics by New Order and Brandon Flowers
Produced by New Order, Stuart Price and Tom Rowlands
Released September 25, 2015
New Order's "Music Complete" is not only one of the very best albums that I have heard in 2015, it is also the best album from the band to arrive in over 20 years. Sensational and fully intoxicating from beginning to end, New Order has emerged with a musical statement that is not only as innovative as their ground breaking albums from the 1980's,
Instead of arriving as an album that simply feels that it is time for a new album from New Order, "Music Complete" is a work that truly feels urgent. It is as if they have something to prove again, and perhaps they do, not solely due to the age of the legendary band, but especially after the departure of co-founder/bassist Peter Hook, who arrogantly proclaimed the band terminated upon his exit. If you have not even given the band one thought in quite some time, or if you are new to the fray, I cannot recommend this album highly enough as New Order's signature blend of melancholic angst and propulsive dance rhythms are more relevant than ever and they are operating at the peak of their musical powers.
Opening with music box sounding keyboards, "Music Complete" begins with the sustained storm clouds of "Restless." "What can you buy/That lifts a heavy heart up to the sky?" ponders Bernard Sumner, with his classic vocals that sound simultaneously disengaged and fully heartfelt. In a world where "the fiscal climate isn't looking good" and "the streets are running rivers full of blood," Sumner laments that "The more I see/The less, the less, that I believe" while also repeatedly asking "How much do you need?"
The album grows even more turbulent upon the album's second track, the propellant "Singularity," a selection that conversely delves into emotional paralysis as well as human inter-connectivity. "I can hear your cry out there/And I can feel you close to me," Sumner sings to an unknown person, possibly experiencing some sort of turmoil. The lament only builds with the plaintive chorus "One day at a time/Inch by inch/For every kiss/On lover's lips/For all lost souls/Who can't come home/Friends, not here/We shared our tears."
By now, I am certain that "Music Complete" is beginning to sound like more of a heavier thematic ride than what you may expect or even wish for. Yet, do trust me, dear readers and listeners as New Order has not created a downer of a listening experience as the music remains intoxicating and as inconstant motion as their finest work. But, also the band has never been one to simply create dance floor fluff, as New Order has always grounded the music with an emotional intensity that gives their specialized brand of dance music a tangible weight.
That being said, the fun quotient arrives in spades over the following three selections, all of which explore the affairs of the heart. Beginning with "Plastic," which almost feels like an update of "I Feel Love," the iconic Donna Summer/Giorgio Moroder track from 1977 merged with The Chemical Brothers' 1999 single "Out Of Control" (on which Bernard Sumner sang lead vocals), percolating synthesizers blaze full speed ahead leaving you within a hypnotic trance.
The almost too facile entitled "Tutti Frutti" is outstanding. The deep voiced clubland Lothario from New Order's 1989 single "Fine Time" has returned (and now apparently Italian), leading us into six minutes plus of discotheque bliss. From here, Tom Chapman, the band's new bassist, claims the spotlight as he brings the Chic influenced finger-snap funk of "People On The High Line" to sensational life. After those three selections, which nearly amounts to 20 minutes worth of continuous, infectious dance floor glory, the storm clouds from the beginning of the album flow back to a most disturbing effect with the album's dark centerpiece, "Stray Dog."
With this selection, Bernard Sumner hands his microphone over to the inimitable Iggy Pop, who delivers a powerfully growling spoken word performance over New Order's intensely driving musical landscape which completely and thrillingly presents the psychological torment of a wayward alcoholic, self described as "a cheat, a killer, or a liar," desperately trying to outrun his inner demons ("the darkness of the mire") in order to come in from the cold world, to the woman who has tamed him, his true love. "I'd rather be a lover than a liar," he proclaims. "I gave away my freedom and the calling of the wild/So that I could be with you...I chose to be with you." While this track professes that "the secret of happiness is true love," New Order, with this startling performance by Iggy Pop, proves that the pursuit of this particular brand of happiness is indeed a struggle.
The emotional struggles only continue during the final five songs of "Music Complete," all selections which contain great melodic and textural moods and (ahem) hooks that grab the ears in increasingly dynamic fashion. The blend of the acoustic and synthetic work musical magic with the bitter "Academic," a track that could be read as Sumner's kiss off to the departed Peter Hook, as their relationship has grown increasingly acrimonious. The reflective, nearly eight minute "Nothing But A Fool" recalls the classic New Order sound of "Ceremony" or "Love Vigilantes" as acoustic guitars drive the synthetic rhythms straight through to your melancholic hearts and romantic woes.
The kinetic "Unlearn This Hatred," with those hypnotizing EDM beats and textures firmly accentuate the themes of push/pull relationships filled with unresolved anger issues. "The Game," another gloriously seamless blending of the acoustic and synthetic, provides a return to the themes of the album's opening track which culminate triumphantly in the album's final song, "Superheated," composed and performed with Brandon Flowers of The Killers (itself a band named after the fictional musical group that appeared in the New Order's 2001 music video for "Crystal").
"Sometimes I wake up as angry as hell/I feel deserted, I feel unwell," Sumner sings openly. "But it's not your fault, no not at all/I was the reason for our downfall." But instead on wallowing in self-absorbed pain, this song finds New Order at a point of acceptance and growth, the kind that tends to arrive with personal evolution and therefore, "Music Complete" concludes on a high note of absolute grace.
New Order's "Music Complete" firmly establishes itself as one of the band's highest achievements as it stands as tall as their classic work. It is compulsively listenable, filled with stellar performances from the band from start to finish. And while it will not necessarily erase the memory and influence of Peter Hook, the band has found new purpose, drive and even inspiration in Hook's absence and has masterfully conceived of inventive ways to move forwards while honoring their deeply influential past.
While the return of keyboardist Gillian Gilbert is tremendously welcoming, and the musical assistance from The Chemical Brothers' Tom Rowlands provides some added force, Bernard Sumner in particular impressed me supremely, as I feel that he has delivered the very best singing of his career, with his three duets with La Roux's Elly Jackson as specific high-points during the album.
Most provocatively, I found "Music Complete" to serve as a richly textured song cycle taking the listener from a state of existential unease to one of personal resolution, all the while sweating it out in the nightclubs and on the dance floor to music that is allowing to stretch, live and breathe. This has been New Order's standard, their musical wheelhouse since their inception and as much as I loved their classic albums during my mid 1980s high school years, I do not ever think that I have ever found myself to feel so blissfully moved, so stirred, so transformed as much as I have been each time that I have spun their latest release.
Whatever the future of New Order may be from this point onwards in anyone's guess but if this were to be the conclusion to their 35 year musical journey, how wonderful it would be to go out on a note as high as the aptly entitled "Music Complete," an album where not one element has been omitted and everything exists in the most blissful place.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
PRINCE: Lead and Backing Vocals, Guitars and Bass Guitar
JOSHUA WELTON: All other instruments
STRINGENIUS string arrangements by Adi Yeshaya
Composed, Produced, Arranged and Performed by Prince and Joshua Welton
Released September 7, 2015
In a career that has already crafted one head scratcher after another, I am wondering if the artist forever known as Prince has perhaps delivered his biggest head scratcher yet.
What is collaboration and what is control in the musical universe of Prince Rogers Nelson? From the very beginning of his musical odyssey, every single album Prince has released has carried the following credit: "Composed, Produced, Arranged and Performed by Prince" (or some variation of that credit adding either his bands The Revolution, The New Power Generation or 3RDEYEGIRL or even that unpronounceable symbol the proceedings). What that credit achieved is the identification that we, as listeners, were being presented with an artistic vision as its most singular, that even if other names were attached to his, we all knew that Prince's fingerprints were upon every single beat, strum and sound that reached our collective ears.
So complete was this impression, that on albums that were released that did not feature his own name anywhere, works that existed through pseudonyms or albums were credits were falsely attributed to other individuals (like Vanity 6, The Time, Madhouse, The Family, Jamie Starr, Alexander Nevermind and so on). Even on Shelia E.'s first two albums, especially "Romance 1600" (released August 26, 1985) where she was credited with performing guitar, bass, keyboards as well as drums and percussion, it was in truth an album where Prince largely created the works on his own, yet left his name nowhere in sight (save for that album's centerpiece "A Love Bizarre"). In all of those circumstances and more, regardless of what was written within the liner notes, we still all knew who the true architect was without question.
But still, there were periods when Prince relinquished control in the spirit of true collaboration. During their stint in The Revolution, Prince relied heavily upon the talents and efforts of Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, whom in interviews expressed how the trio created a considerable amount of music together (nearly all of it still unreleased and housed inside of The Vault to this day), describing how Prince would give them sketches of songs to complete on their own. Another period was during the creation of the three disc/three hour epic album entitled "Emancipation" (released November 19, 1996) where Prince allowed drummer and close friend Kirk Johnson to handle all of the album's drum programming.
Certainly there have been many times upon which Prince has gladly displayed the spotlight upon other band members and collaborators, especially the touring unit he assembled during the "Sign O' The Times"/"Lovesexy" period (featuring saxophonist Eric Leeds, bassist Levi Seacer Jr. and the monstrous Shelia E. on drums), or even the very first incarnation of The New Power Generation for "Diamonds And Pearls" (released October 1, 1991), or all of the guest appearances that flow through the "Griffiti Bridge" album (released August 20, 1990) among many others.
And yet, Prince always seems to function within a series of cycles. Points where he has worked with others to an absolute peak position, only to disband everything and bring all of the music solely back to himself again. In ways, this process not only continues to craft Prince's unique musical vision, iconography and inscrutable persona, it also completely blurred whatever lines that exist between the so-called "official" Prince releases and the side projects, so much so that some of the side projects and pseudonyms (like The Time, Madhouse and The Family) feel more like regular Prince albums than some of those aforementioned official releases. Head scratching indeed.
Now we arrive at "HITNRUN: Phase One," Prince's third album in twelve months and 38th official album overall! Self-described as an "experimental" release (aside from his deal with Jay-Z's TIDAL) is the fact that the album credits list the name of Joshua Welton as co-producer! While his name did appear in the album credits for last year's "ART OFFICIAL AGE" (released September 30, 2014), Joshua Welton's presence on this new album, and in all of the accompanying press interviews, has grown considerably larger, making it impossible to overlook him.
Joshua Welton, a musician/producer in his own right, is in fact the husband of 3RDEYEGIRL drummer/vocalist Hannah Ford Welton, and his initial presence within Paisley Park was to function solely as support for her. After a time, and after Welton and Prince had begun to know each other and connect through spiritual matters, Prince essentially created an impromptu contest within the walls of Paisley Park as he handed an unfinished track to Welton and two other producers and instructed them to complete it, after which Prince would choose a winner. Joshua Welton was the victor.
With "HITNRUN: Phase One," both Prince and Welton have described the album's creation process as being fully collaborative. As they have each explained, Prince would give Welton instructions to create a certain soundscape, which Prince would then take and add to it. Welton expressed that while Prince always recorded his vocals completely alone, he was present many times when His Royal Badness would add either his peerless instrumental skills on guitar or bass only, leaving the lion's share of the instrumentation to Welton. From the sounds of their recent interviews, the creation of this new album feels akin to Prince and Joshua Welton rolling a ball back and forth to each other, taking turns building up a song piece by piece...and yet, this just sounds absolutely strange and confusing to me.
Prince, whether intentionally or not, has spent the entirety of his career cultivating an image of himself as a musical Svengali, the primary figurehead, the sole creator of this idiosyncratic musical universe and the thought that he has now loosened the reigns to include another individual to actually produce him feels unfathomable. In interviews, Welton has even expressed that while Prince ALWAYS had the final stamp of approval, there are some tracks on the new album on which Prince does not even touch one instrument. Say what?! Again...head scratcher indeed!
But now onto the album itself...
"HITNRUN: Phase One" is entitled after a longtime euphemism Prince uses to dub surprise concert performances in smaller venues and nightclubs or for very accelerated tours through specific locales. Get in. Get out. Leave 'em spent and begging for more.
Unlike the concept album wonderland of "ART OFFICIAL AGE" or the analog, full 3RDEYEGIRL band, analog guitar fireworks of "PLECTRUMELECTRUM" (released September 30, 2014), this new album is precisely as named: a collection of dance floor ready pop song club tunes that hit hard, fast, get in and get out...hopefully leaving the listener begging for more.
"HITNRUN: Phase One" opens with a most familiar sound to my ears, the opening multi-tracked vocals of "For You," itself the very first song and title track from Prince's debut album, released April 7, 1978. Within moments, the song phases into the opening moments from both "1999" and "Let's Go Crazy" before settling into the high stepping, horn section fueled introductory track "MILLION $ SHOW," which is somewhat of an oddity as it does serve as the album's preamble (as valiantly sung by Judith Hill) and yet Prince does not even appear in the song for nearly two full minutes and even then, it is surprisingly brief. It is almost as if Prince is guesting on his own album and eve then, he does run the risk of overshadowing his new work with the music of his past, itself an odd way to begin a new work, no matter how euphoric it is presented.
With "SHUT THIS DOWN," Prince makes his presence fully know as his aggressive "My Name Is Prince" vocal gruffness and downright nasty bass work combined with Welton's more martial/industrial beats and keyboards merge strongly, effectively creating a sweaty and hot atmosphere, that only continues with the vaguely Middle Eastern tinged "AIN'T ABOUT 2 STOP."
Collaborating with Rita Ora and a blazing guitar solo from 3RDEYEGIRL guitarist Donna Gratis, Prince and Welton again conjure an aggressive track that just dares you to stop moving. As Prince proclaims "If u're life is the B-side, my dream is the A," his furious bass playing returns and I particularly enjoyed how Welton created samples of Prince classic stacked "1999" era keyboard sounds and incorporated them into the stomping mix, tickling the ears at just the perfect time.
"LIKE A MACK," featuring the vocals of Curly Fryz plus the frisky NPG Hornz section, while enjoyable, doesn't stick as firmly as I had wished, feeling more like a holding pattern until the next selection, a remixed/reworked version of "THIS COULD B US" from "ART OFFICIAL AGE." For me, the album gets itself back on track as Welton takes the ballad and injects just enough of a sultry bounce to give it more of an erotic atmosphere...and certainly, Prince's stinging, percolating guitar solo anchored by that incredible bass just cements the song perfectly.
Now by this point in "HITNRUN: Phase One," and again, while I was enjoying myself, I was feeling that perhaps the songs were perhaps a tad...slight. Now certainly, was fully aware that these are a set of songs that are only really meant to get the listener moving and out onto the dance floor, wherever that may be. But even so, I just felt the need to have something that stuck to the ribs a bit more. Thankfully, the second half of the album arrived just in the nick of time.
Prince's inner Donna Summer explodes on the album highlight "FALLINLOVE2NITE," where his "Camille" alter-ego vocals, horns, and strings superbly augment Welton's soaring keyboards and disco beat. Now, here is where the push/pull of Prince's collaboration and control arrives again, albeit in a more subtle fashion. This particular song has already been released as a single and featuring actress Zooey Deschanel's vocals as it was a tie-in with Prince's wry appearance upon Deschanel's hit sitcom "New Girl." Yet, for "HITNRUN: Phase One," Deschanel's vocals have been completely removed. Not that it really altered the song as a whole in any fashion one way or the other but a curiosity just the same.
From here, Joshua Welton creates soundscapes that are more minimalist or at least less bombastic than the album's first half, therefore emerging with not only a stronger and more memorable sequence of songs but ones that almost feel as if Prince is operating solely on his own. Perhaps the musical marriage between Master and Apprentice is beginning to truly gel.
The sparse "X'S FACE," the soulful reworking of the "Diamonds And Pearls" outtake "1000 X'S AND O'S" and the instrumental "MR. NELSON," itself a revamped, and again Middle Eastern tinged, version of "CLOUDS" from "ART OFFICIAL AGE," all work very well in creating and continuing that inexplicable aural landscape that is Prince's romantic/erotic/spiritual dreamworld. Yet, "HARDROCKLOVER," is the album's show stopper, with bursts of Prince's sky-scraping guitar heroics and inimitable vocals, which have not lost a single octave, blasting through the moody purple atmospherics, again created by Welton.
"HITNRUN: Phase One" concludes on a more meditative note with "JUNE," track that feels as if it could be a close cousin to "Reflection" from "Musicology" (released April 20, 2004). Here, over a musical bed of airy, dreamy keyboards and finger snaps, Prince, speaking to an unknown listener and cooking pasta, weaves in a series of small non-sequiturs which range from "Tell me what did U have 4 lunch 2day" to "Y did U come 2 this planet/Y did U come 2 this life." He muses that "Sometimes eye feel like eye was born way 2 late/Shoulda been born on the Woodstock stage." He ponders "Somebody famous had a birthday 2day/But all eye saw was another full moon." And in classic "Purple Yoda" mode, he concludes with "Somethin' burning' on the stove/It must B the pasta/Yea...it's June."
When it is all said and done Prince's "HITNRUN: Phase One" is not one of his finest releases. Frankly, it is not even the finest release he has given us in the past twelve months. But such as it is, and with an artist as prolific as Prince, not every single album can be an Earth shaker. Not every album is even designed to be a grand artistic statement. To that end "HITNRUN: Phase One" fully accomplishes what it sets out to do. The album runs under 40 minutes, the songs arrive quickly and the album flows without any breaks between tracks creating an infectious continuous momentum. And most importantly, and as with "ART OFFICIAL AGE" and "PLECTRUMELECTRUM," Prince clearly sounds like he is having a great time as well as fully rejuvenated, revitalized and re-engaged.
But as for being "experimental"...well...hmmm...
Maybe the experiment in question is as much for Prince as it is for the fans and not necessarily within the approach of the songs themselves. Maybe the experiment is witnessing the famously meticulous and singular Prince letting go of the reins a bit to allow another figure to step in and shape the sonics and in turn, the experiment is to see how the fan community reacts and therefore accepts the figure known as Joshua Welton.
In interviews, Prince has expressed his excitement and pride towards Welton and their creative partnership, even going so far as to express his fascination at what good fortune may flow Welton's way once he branches outwards and collaborates with other performers. But for now, and with this album and upcoming tour on which Welton will serve as keyboardist, this is our time to get to know Welton and see how he fits within this purple universe. Look, he did do a good job on the album, but I still feel that Prince has created more ferociously innovative, ahead of the curve musical landscapes completely on his own and I await the day when he does return into himself for sole inspiration.
Even so, and with my hesitations and head scratchings, "Phase One" can only lead to a "Phase Two" and as always, I'll be ready when it arrives!!!
Friday, October 2, 2015
SHANNON CONNOR: Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
MITCH DEITZ: Guitars, Vocals
SAM GALLIGAN: Bass Guitar
BRENDAN MANLEY: Drums
All music and lyrics by Post Social
Produced by Post Social
Released October 3, 2015
Boys, you are truly a force to be reckoned with!
The arrival of "Young Randolphs," the second album from Madison's very own Post Social, serves as a brilliant culmination to my activities upon Synesthesia with the band as I have first heard the new material upon the completion of their extensive, exclusive interview with me. While I already knew that the album was forthcoming, it was upon another visit to B-Side Records where I gathered my very first taste of what the collective of Shannon Connor, Mitch Deitz, Sam Galligan and Brendan Manley had been cooking up for quite some time, and completely on their own, with this homemade and self-described lo-fi effort. "Do you wanna hear a little of the new album?" asked Manley's Father and B -Side owner Steve Manley. Do you even have to guess what my answer was?
The track was entitled "Gentle Ben," and like a flash of lightning, I was INSTANTLY struck by the crisp attack and chiming tone of the guitars and once the tightness of the rhythm section and Deitz's soaring lead vocals arrived, I was just lifted completely off of my feet. Trust me. My mouth was completely hung open! The entire song felt to be a sonic whirlwind as the bed of interlocking guitar patterns from Connor and Deitz challenged and tickled my eardrums, while Manley's drums propelled the groove, and bassist Galligan delivered supremely with perplexing and stunning fluidity. This new music from Post Social was a blast of addictive high energy that only ascended by the time the song reached its end. I flat out LOVED what I heard and was ready for more once the album reached its release date. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait that long.
After reaching out to the band once again to express my enthusiasm over what I had just heard, Shannon Connor soon e-mailed me links to the entire new album, which as of this writing is still unreleased. And finally, as a bit of a preface to what I would soon be able to hear, Connor informed me, "It's definitely a very different beast than the last record."
Where the band's self-titled debut album "Post Social" (released December 6, 2014), was clean and crystalline in its production and presentation, "Young Randolphs" is as described, a more lo-fi effort, where feedback squeals, tape hiss, bleeding into the red vocals and other scrappier odds and ends are clearly audible. Musically, the album is a rougher and rowdier affair as we are hearing the sound of a band euphorically bashing it out, with continuously impressive instrumental agility, on a collection of 12 songs that they just have to get out into the world right f'ing now!
"Offline" abruptly opens "Young Randolphs" in mid cacophony, the band sounding as if they are either tuning up or falling apart. After a few moments, the track soon blazes open into a bouncy post-punk assault that features the syncopated, choppy guitars of both Deitz and Connor, Manley's consistently propulsive drumming, the kinetic yet melodic bass work plus Deitz's increasingly distorted vocals (from slow motion to "Kid A") as well as a brief keyboard solo. The song feels as a statement of intent for what we will hear with the remainder of the album, as well as serving as a rambunctious sonic display, immediately signaling to the listener a line in the sand from the band's lush predecessor has defiantly been drawn.
The following five songs of "Young Randolphs" hit as hard and as fast as the most precisely thrown speedball and the effect is exhilarating. Beginning with the aforementioned "Gentle Ben," Post Social keeps accelerating the pace with the high flying "TV Row," the anthemic "Wall," the raucous wail of "Everyone" and the bad boy prowl of "Nascent Apprentice." It is truly a relentless sequence, one that gave me the impression that this just may be what a full live performance by the band just might sound like. For this first half of "Young Randolphs," these are undeniably performances of joyous urgency from a group of friends who know, push and support each other tremendously. Not once does any one member attempt to wrestle the spotlight for themselves yet all four of them provide the listener with exceedingly much to listen to and digest...that is, if you're not too terribly exhausted from all of the jumping and dancing, for this music feels tailor made to get you off of your feet.
By the time we reach the album's second half (as I am presuming), Post Social brings us "Blue Sky's Got Me Feeling High." Conjuring up an image and location that exists "Down by the schoolyard/Where the river meets the lake," the band provides what could be sort of a "morning after" lope (beautifully suggested by Galligan's lumbering bass work) that slowly rises to rapturous exhalation all in the space of just a hair over two minutes.
Where "Django" announces unapologetically that it is time to rise to our collective feet again with more rapid fire musical outbursts (even though those boys you should have never played poker with took all of your winnings), "Young Randolphs" soon begins a more meditative sequence of songs that are just transfixing to the ears. With Shannon Connor taking the lead vocals for both the dreamy "Haunt Me" and the gorgeous "Green Screen," the guitars magically shift from attack mode to a headspace that shimmers, shines and unearths a realm of nostalgic bittersweetness that is achingly melodic. In fact, it is yet another track that somehow, someway pulls my mind to a place where The Smiths and early Fleetwood Mac could co-exist.
Mitch Deitz returns to the mic for the melancholic, minimalist "Trophies" in which the titular "Randolph" no longer young, is ensconced in a bar side lament over peak days in the high school hallways long gone. "I had trophies and girls!!!" he howls over and again, with a singular lonely guitar, archaic drum machine beat and mournful keyboards sounding perfectly illustrating this character's isolation and heartache.
"Ohio," the band's current personal favorite track to perform live, is the album's undeniably dynamic closer. It is the type of song where I honestly wonder how they even conceived of piecing it all together as it feels as it is made up of seemingly disparate parts. An off-kilter rhythm and time signature, the choppy guitars from the album's opening combined with some stuttering special guitar effects, martial drumming and an encircling bass line, all of which leap together for the windswept chorus and then breaks apart all over again. No wonder the band loves performing this song so much and you can easily hear the pride and enthusiasm of the writing and playing from beginning to end.
Post Social's "Young Randolphs" successfully avoids any sense of the dreaded Sophomore slump with complete confidence. As previously stated, the album is a scrappier, tougher affair than their debut due to its DIY punk rock aesthetics. Yet, just as with the first album, Post Social's superior abilities are at the forefront and on this second time around, they are only continuing to impress tremendously.
Mitch Deitz remains the consummate front-man, seemingly (and happily) shredding his vocal register each time he reaches the mic while Shannon Connor serves as a perfect counter-point with his more pensive, introverted vocal style. As guitarists, both Deitz and Connor have raised their games and expanded their musical vocabulary. Yes, those intertwined guitar lines are mesmerizing and continue to chime like bells. But, on this new album, both guitarists have allowed their instruments to snarl, chomp, crunch, squeal, roar and even fly into the skies with lyrical solos to heroic effect.
The rhythm section of Brendan Manley and Sam Galligan is nothing less than formidable. Manley lightning fast percussives certainly set the pace with full dexterity, without bombast and if you do listen closely, you will be able to pick out the points where it feels as if he is actually leading the band. When Manley's crash cymbals and paradiddles kick in, Post Social effortlessly advances into the next gear, leaving their competitors far behind in the musical dust.
To my ears, Sam Galligan is indeed the band's secret weapon. Like U2's masterful Adam Clayton or XTC's Colin Moulding, Galligan's bass playing is fully involving and endlessly inventive. Never content to just ride that one note ad infinitum, Galligan curls around the music, playing melodic hopscotch in a fashion that fully supports his bandmates and elevates each song in the process.
In addition to the band's superior musical and songwriting abilities, "Young Randolphs" further confirms that Post Social is keenly aware of how to craft an album as a complete and individualistic musical statement, by knowing which songs to place next to each other, while building the excitement and intoxicating the listener to want to experience the flow all over again. As with their debut album, we can easily hear that the song is the star and all four members of the band are in lockstep as they each serve the song, while simultaneously demonstrating their ferocious musical chops. Even when all four members of the band are not present for a specific track (Connor performs bass duties on "Offline" as well as all of the guitars on "Green Screen," Manley sits out on two tracks and finally, solely Deitz and Connor perform "Trophies"), the fullness of Post Social as a complete unit is always present. There is not one jaded moment whatsoever. Only the elation that comes from creation and playing together.
While I marveled at the musical references the band reminded me of, from a dash of Gang Of Four here and there to moments of early XTC circa "Black Sea" (September 12, 1980) and "English Settlement" (released February 12, 1982) and certainly The Police circa "Zenyatta Mondatta" (released October 3, 1980), with "Young Randolphs" I honestly feel that Post Social have established themselves as a unit that sounds like no one other than themselves. This new album stands firmly on its own musical feet as a work that serves not necessarily as an advancement but as a widening of its own musical scope, providing the listener with hearing the music of Post Social from a different angle.
I urge you to please give the music of Post Social an honest chance, if you have not already done so. With "Young Randolphs," the opportunity will be made that much easier as the album is planning to be released as a FREE DOWNLOAD from the group's Bandcamp page, as well as a cassette version (!) for the low-low price of $5. A modicum of a price to pay in order to hear new 2015 music this vibrant, exciting, creative and feverishly performed.
Dear readers and listeners, for my ears, Post Social's "Young Randolphs" has been happily addictive for me as I have listened to this album from top to bottom on repeat, just as I had with the band's first album. Trust me folks. I have been playing this album nearly as much as the latest Tame Impala album, and you know that's A LOT! This just may even be one of my favorite albums of 2015, for that matter. And as for you?
You won't know until you try it!
I'm going to try and keep this short and sweet.
Last month, my activities upon Synesthesia were truly special for me, with the interview project with the band members of Post Social reaching its full fruition and also experiencing the finest concert I have seen in my lifetime with Zappa Plays Zappa (and then, meeting the band afterwards).
Well, there is more to come...
This month, I plan to see Madison's local musical heroes Garbage for the second time as they land in town on a stop for their 20th anniversary tour. Beyond that, I can now happily announce that Post Social' second album "Young Randolphs" will see its official release TOMORROW!
Beyond that, there are a stack of new albums awaiting my attention and I just am so anxious to tell you about all of them. And furthermore, there is one more interview project that I am still working on and I am wondering whether to premiere it this month or save it for November.
No matter. It is just a busy time filled with music, music and mo' music. Just how I LOVE it!
So, stay tuned...and remember, no matter what you are listening to or even creating...