Lady Gaga Delivers a Provisional Reprieve with ‘Chromatica’

On her sixth studio album, Lady Gaga delivers a joyous, albeit temporary reprieve from the existing and mercurial realities of a world in crisis, which is profoundly needed right now. Chromatica is a non-stop, full-on dance party replete with 13 club bangers and 3 filmic-sounding instrumental interludes, all of which will transport you to another realm of EDM consciousness. If you’ve been waiting for Gaga to return to the dance floor, then Chromatica will sufficiently fulfill all of your danceable desires as its magical dream-like capriccios will profusely distract you from life’s painful realities. After all, Chromatica is a state of mind, not a physical place. [Read Full Review]

May the Fourth Be with You

While yet another Star Wars Day is upon us, this year is vastly different from years past, as we attempt to find new ways to celebrate during a social distancing pandemic. Also, the later part of 2019 brought The Rise of Skywalker, the conclusion to the 42-year spanning, nine-part Skywalker saga. Both of these events have prompted me to revisit and reanalyze the entire multi-episodic adventure.

Now that the Skywalker saga has been completed, I’ve been digesting and reflecting upon the galactic journey as a whole. Although we now take for granted films depicting other worldly space adventures, nothing can replace the excitement, joy and nostalgia I still feel for Star Wars. For those who know me, I’ve previously shared in depth my unwaning love for my favorite space opera of all time in a piece I’d written a couple of years ago titled, For the Love of Star Wars. For those who don’t and who are interested in such things, my previous piece can be found by clicking the feature’s aforementioned title link.

I find it disheartening whenever I see the negativity and incessant whining surrounding Star Wars of late, but then I remind myself that those proclaiming to be “so-called fans” are really not the true fans at all, but merely self-absorbed crybabies who have lost touch with the inner childlike wonderment of their long lost imaginations. As the elite number of the truly devoted know, Star Wars isn’t bound to merely one film, trilogy or era, it’s an intangible entity belonging to those of us who still truly embrace the wonderment found within its timeless fantastical spirit and lasting inspiration.

I for one, am extremely grateful for being amongst the generation lucky enough to have been precisely the ideal age to fully appreciate the original trilogy, as well as all that have followed. I find great comfort in knowing the Star Wars galaxy is and will remain easily within my grasp whenever I want to revisit a galaxy far, far away. May the fourth be with you.

“We are the spark, that will light the fire…”

Donna Summer Fans Rejoice!

At long last, a complete career-spanning compilation of Donna Summer’s musical legacy has arrived. Donna Summer: Encore is an exquisite and long overdue celebration of the ‘First Lady of Love,’ comprised of 33 CDs, encompassing all of Summer’s albums, from her 1974 debut Lady of The Night, through her final proper offering, 2008’s Crayons.

All 17 albums are here, plus an impressive inclusion of 109 additional bonus tracks. The sound quality of Encore is beyond superb and easily surpasses all previously released versions of the included 329 tracks.

The box set also includes a high quality 40-page 12” by 12” hardcover book containing a moving foreword by Giorgio Moroder, as well as, heartfelt tributes from: George Benson, Kim Carnes, Boy George, Bootsy Collins, Gloria Gaynor, Nile Rodgers and more. Encore is not only the best representation of Donna Summer’s legendary musical output, but it’s also an unquestionably indispensable piece for any ardent fan’s Donna Summer collection. [Read FULL review here]

 

Erasure: Chorus (Remastered 3CD Deluxe Edition)

Next year marks the 30th anniversary of Erasure’s fifth studio album, Chorus, but the good news is you don’t have wait until then to start celebrating and revisiting its magnificence as it has just been released in an exquisite newly remastered and expanded version. Vince Clarke and Andy Bell’s 1991 work of genius features hit singles: “Love to Hate You,” “Breath of Life,” “Am I Right?” and the sparkling title track.

This deluxe edition 3CD edition includes the original album, as well as a second disc of remixes, demo versions, U.S. mixes and six phenomenal B-Sides. A third disc contains live versions of the complete album from Erasure’s renowned Phantasmagorical Entertainment shows recorded in 1992 at the Apollo in Manchester, England.

Erasure’s Chorus was a #1 album in the UK upon its original release in 1991 and it has now been digitally remastered and sounds shiny and new all over again. Upon reflection, I find myself enjoying this album more than I did initially. The high-caliber B-Sides really complete the picture of the original album and hold up as well as anything included on the proper track list, especially the bouncy “Over the Rainbow,” the danceable “Waiting for Sex” and the downhearted but optimistic “Let It Flow.”

Produced by Martyn Phillips (Swing Out Sister, Lisa Stansfield) and mixed by Dave Bascombe (Tears For Fears, Depeche Mode), Chorus is an essential entry in Erasure’s sizable catalog and now this must-have deluxe edition makes it more vital than ever.

“Go ahead with your dreamin’ for what it’s worth/Or you’ll be stricken bound kickin’ up dirt…”

Tame Impala: ‘The Slow Rush’

Australian multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker returns with his neo-psychedelic home-recording project, Tame Impala. The Slow Rush is Tame Impala’s first full-length since 2015’s ARIA award-winning and Grammy-nominated Currents, and it’s a wide-ranging master stroke of musical brilliance. Like the bulk of the one-man moniker’s previous projects, The Slow Rush was written, performed, and produced by Parker.

After a lengthy delay following what turned out to be a false start with an unexpected appearance on SNL, and two singles released in the spring of 2019, Kevin Parker has finally delivered his latest masterpiece and it’s well worth the agonizing wait. Equally ethereal and danceable, The Slow Rush sounds as if it could’ve been recorded in 1979, but newly discovered today and remixed using modern technology.

Led by previously previewed tracks “Lost in Yesterday,” “Posthumous Forgiveness” and the newly tweaked “Borderline” The Slow Rush sounds like a hypnotic time warp from which you don’t want to escape. The soul-infused “Instant Destiny,” the eargasmic acid house banger “Breathe Deeper” and the dreamlike “On Track” are but a few of the high points embedded within this ingeniously crafted record. Parker’s heady lyrics are immaculately intertwined within an auditory psychedelia that truly transports the listener to another plane.

The one and only disappointment to be found here is the conspicuous omission of the previously released single “Patience,” but with that said, if The Slow Rush had been a movie instead of an album, it would’ve deserved two big thumbs up. So, put on your best pair of headphones and turn the volume way up!

New Year, New Decade and New Sounds

Hello 2020 and hello new possibilities. The beginning of a new year always begins with high anticipation of what’s ahead, and for me the turning of the calendar always brings to mind the promise of new music from favorite artists.

Despite another lackluster Grammy Awards ceremony, the new decade began with a bang as we were treated to the surprise release of a new album by Eminem, the third set of the Pet Shop Boys’ Stuart Price trilogy, as well as a career-spanning 18-disc box set by Depeche Mode.

As for the rest of 2020, my ears are already anxiously awaiting new records from: Garbage, The Killers, Panic! at the Disco, plus the long-awaited new set from Tame Impala. Also, in the works are new offerings from Green Day and Weezer, which will be profligately supported by this summer’s unabashed Hella Mega Tour along with Fall Out Boy.

Other noteworthy releases in the musical pipeline for the new year include the much predicted sixth album from Lady Gaga, and also Coldplay’s follow-up to last year’s unexpected Everyday Life.

So, here’s to new songs, new albums, new artists and hopefully, the demise of auto-tune used as a disconcerting crutch.

Favorite Sounds of the Season

Yes, my avid music blog subscribers, it’s that time once again; time to trim the tree and hang the stockings with care while listening to Yule time tidings of comfort and joy. This holiday season, three particular releases have not only caught my attention, but have found a permanent place amongst my ever-growing Christmas music collection:

1) Josh Rouse: The Holiday Sounds of Josh Rouse – Longtime favorite singer-songwriter Josh Rouse has gifted us with a full-length Christmas record that will delight the senses and warm the cockles of your holiday hearts. Rouse’s Holiday Sounds is a short, but essential set of nine new seasonal selections that are tailor made for group Christmas gatherings as well as cuddling with your significant other.

The laidback opener “Mediterranean X-Mas” is guaranteed to take away the stress of your hustling and bustling while reminding you to slow down and enjoy the reason for the season. Likewise, the luscious “New York Holiday” embraces echoes of Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack (coincidentally referenced in the closing track), while concurrently sounding fresh, familiar, and classic. Other key tracks include the forlorn, but upbeat “Heartbreak Holiday,” the picturesque “Sleigh Brother Bill” and the gorgeously referential album closer, “Christmas Songs.”

The Holiday Sounds of Josh Rouse’s first pressing includes three acoustic bonus tracks: “Up on the Housetop,” “Let It Snow” and a cover of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” all of which add the perfect touch for a holiday bonfire singalong.

And speaking of Mariah Carey…

2) Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas Deluxe Anniversary Edition – After already owning the original release, plus the red vinyl LP, I’ll admit I initially deliberated if I needed yet another version, but I ultimately took the plunge and I’m glad I did! Loaded with remixes, bonus tracks, live performances from Mariah’s 1994 John the Divine concert, plus a few newly recorded treats, this 2CD expanded edition of Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas has never sounded more joyful.

And finally,

3) Jim Reeves: Twelve Songs of Christmas – This country classic was produced by the legendary Chet Atkins, and has finally been beautifully remastered by Vic Anesini at Sony’s Battery Studios. Reeves’ Twelve Songs of Christmas is a sentimental journey back to the days of Nashville’s iconic countrypolitan sound. Also, two seasonal bonus tracks: “Snowflake” and “Scarlet Ribbons” have been added to make this the quintessential version of Jim Reeves’ beloved Christmas album.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

 

Thirty-five Years of Eurythmics’ Unnervingly Prophetic Masterpiece: ‘1984 (For the Love of Big Brother)’

In the summer of 1984, Eurythmics’ David Stewart and Annie Lennox were commissioned by Richard Branson and Virgin Records to compose a musical soundtrack for Michael Radford’s film version of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Eurythmics’ songtrack album was subsequently released one month following the film’s premiere and contained nine songs derived from the instrumental interludes Stewart and Lennox composed for the movie.

Eurythmics’ 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) is a beloved, although often overlooked piece of work, which is considered to be the duo’s most experimental output to date. It may not have been what the film’s director commissioned, but Eurythmics’ movie songtrack was ultimately the perfect companion piece. It should be considered a crime how dreadfully overlooked and mistreated this body of work was upon its original release as well as its continued neglect. With its chilling timeliness, it’s almost hard to envisage that it was written 35 years ago. [Read Full Review]

Re-experiencing the Beatles’ U.S. Albums

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ landmark Abbey Road album, and as a way to placate my fixated anxiousness for the release of its super deluxe edition and picture disc, I’ve decided to dust off my box set of the Beatles’ U.S. albums. I’m rediscovering and revisiting each individual album in chronological sequence as I await to revel within the newly remixed Abbey Road in all its glory on the golden anniversary of the historic release date. In the meantime…

I wasn’t born when the Beatles first arrived in America, but that didn’t stop me from liberating their albums from my eldest sister and memorizing every word, harmony and riff until I could hear them in my sleep, and repeatedly dream of the Capitol Records’ label with its dome logo and colorband ring spinning in my head. However, I’ll shamefacedly admit that during my early adulthood I thought I’d outgrown the mop topped Fab Four and briefly pushed them aside as I sought to forge my own musical identity. But an eager audiophile soon set me back onto the right track. With the Beatles’ 13-disc box set The U.S. Albums, I’m able to habitually seize the opportunity to turn back time and experience a taste of Beatlemania for myself.

The U.S. albums (notorious for their equalized echo chamber sound, or duophonic simulated stereo, and arbitrarily sequenced track lists), reportedly annoyed the band members, which is believed to be the inspiration behind the infamous “Butcher’s Block” cover (featuring the band holding disjointed baby dolls and raw meat while sporting white lab coats) for the U.S. only release Yesterday and Today. However, these are not the versions included here, but instead merely duplicated track sequencing sourced from an amalgamation of the original 1960s masters and the 2009 remasters. This box set, alongside the deluxe remixed editions of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles, and the anniversary remix edition of Abbey Road, are requisite additions to any Beatles completist’s collection. [Read full feature]

10 Songs I Never Want to Hear Again

The following list of songs represents what I consider to be prime examples of the antithesis of a timeless classic. I don’t intentionally mean to disparage any of these artists or their work, these are merely my honest knee-jerk reactions triggered whenever I hear these particular songs. Music is very subjective, therefore; I realize these are only my opinions, which should be taken with a grain of salt and are not any more or less valid than anyone else’s. I’ve compiled this list primarily for my own entertainment and amusement.

The artists included on the list are some of my favorites as well as some which are not, but I’ll leave that for you decipher which ones are which.

10) Peter Cetera: “Glory of Love”

  9) All-4-One: “I Swear”

  8) Toni Braxton: “Un-break My Heart”

  7) Anita Baker: “Sweet Love”

  6) Madonna: “Material Girl”

  5) Lee Greenwood: “God Bless the USA”

  4) Whitney Houston: “The Greatest Love of All”

  3) Bob Carlisle: “Butterfly Kisses”

  2) Taylor Swift “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

  1) Matthew Wilder: “Break My Stride”

To read my explanations why I chose each selection on my list, please click here