For the Love of Star Wars: A Lifelong Fanboy’s Perspective

(Logo ™ and Images © Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC – Design © 2018 Popmartzoo)

In celebration of May The Fourth and in anticipation of Solo: A Star Wars Story, I present my fanboy tribute to the greatest space opera of all time…

I was a wee young lad when I saw Star Wars: A New Hope for the very first time. At that point, my only encounter with science fiction had been watching Star Trek: The Original Series on television with my aunt while visiting my grandmother’s house. Suddenly, an entirely new world revealed itself to me as I became enraptured by the aptly titled A New Hope, as that initial experience of being transported into George Lucas’ transformative space adventure gave me an unwavering feeling that has remained with me throughout my entire life.

I will always be grateful to George Lucas for creating the Star Wars universe, but also thankful he’s no longer directing nor responsible for writing the current films’ dialogue, as it was always glaringly obvious his primary focus was in the visualization of his stories, certainly not in demanding the very best performances from his actors. However, Lucas’ commitment to excellence is unquestionable, as the advancements of sound and visual effects would not be what they are in film today were it not for Lucas and his 45-billion-dollar film franchise. George Lucas is unquestionably responsible for setting the film industry’s bar extremely high with his advancements in optimal sound quality via his THX quality assurance system, as well as his visual effects powerhouse, Industrial Light and Magic. [Read Full Feature]

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Kylie Minogue Gets Her Country On with ‘Golden’

Did you think Dolly Parton would be the last artist to attempt country disco? Well, think again. Dance-pop diva from down under, Kylie Minogue, returns with her first full-length of all new material since 2014’s R&B leaning Kiss Me Once.

The Aussie chanteuse channels her inner “Cotton-Eyed Joe” on her fourteenth studio album, Golden, but it unfortunately ends up sounding like nothing more than a reductive attempt to create her own version of Lady Gaga’s Joanne. While undeniably endearing and tenacious, Kylie Minogue has always followed trends rather than create them, which has ultimately pigeon-holed the artist as a second-rate Madonna.

On Golden, Minogue dives headfirst into new musical terrain inspired by her recent visit to Nashville. A large part of Golden was recorded during Minogue’s Nashville romp last year and it’s the first time since her endearing 1997 release, Impossible Princess, that the popstress has co-written every one of the album’s tracks. Awkwardly, her stay in Music City seems to have derailed Minogue’s ambitions, resulting in what can only be tactfully described as a major musical misstep. Perhaps Kylie lost focus while imbibing in too much line dancing and honky tonkin’? [Read Full Review Here]

Garbage ‘Version 2.0’: Twentieth Anniversary Edition

Alternative rock band Garbage avoided the dreaded sophomore slump with the triumphant second full-length release Version 2.0 in 1998. Considered by many – including Shirley Manson herself – as the group’s best and most powerful album to date, the dynamic set contains many of the band’s best-known songs including: “Special,” “When I Grow Up” and “The Trick Is to Keep Breathing.”

Now, in honor of its twenty-year anniversary, Version 2.0 is currently being prepared as a remastered deluxe edition. Not only will the deluxe anniversary release include the original album, but it will also include 10 B-sides from the Version 2.0 recording sessions.

Version 2.0 is in my opinion the quintessential garbage record. We are all very grateful to the millions of people who took it to their hearts at the time it was released and to those who continue to love on it still.” – Shirley Manson

Comprehensive details can be found below in the deluxe album’s press release:

Garbage are delighted to announce the release of the 20th anniversary edition of their legendary second album Version 2.0. Released on Stunvolume/PIAS on June 22nd, the package features the whole original album, as well as a second, ten song disc of bonus tracks, including B-sides from the era. The typically visceral “Lick the Pavement” is the first offering from the reissue and is available now.

Upon its initial release in May 1998, Version 2.0 charted at Number 1 and was certified double platinum in the UK with over 500,000 sales. The record went on to sell over 4 million copies worldwide. Version 2.0 was also nominated for four Grammy Awards including Album of The Year. It produced 5 hit singles, including “Push It” and “I Think I’m Paranoid.”

Speaking about the enduring legacy of the record, the band’s drummer and co-producer Butch Vig explains:

Version 2.0 is the sound of a band growing up, evolving, and more than anything, gaining confidence. When we started recording, we made a conscious decision to not re-invent ourselves, but rather take everything we learned from our debut album and filter it through the new digital technology we were grappling with. Sonically, the album has moments of razor sharp clarity and soft beauty. Indeed, it’s possibly our best album.”

Album Track list:

  1. Temptation Waits
  2. I Think I’m Paranoid
  3. When I Grow Up
  4. Medication
  5. Special
  6. Hammering in My Head
  7. Push It
  8. The Trick Is to Keep Breathing
  9. Dumb
  10. Sleep Together
  11. Wicked Ways
  12. You Look So Fine

 

Deluxe Edition B-sides:

  1. Can’t Seem to Make You Mine
  2. 13x Forever
  3. Deadwood
  4. Get Busy with The Fizzy
  5. Soldier Through This
  6. Thirteen
  7. Lick the Pavement
  8. Medication (Acoustic)
  9. Tornado
  10. Afterglow

 

’21st Century Breakdown’: Breaking Down Green Day’s Second Concept Album

Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown, the band’s follow-up to the epochal American Idiot, was one of 2009’s most eagerly awaited albums and it more than lived up to all of the anticipation. On Green Day’s eighth studio album, the band returned in peak form with the hits “Know Your Enemy,” “21 Guns,” “East Jesus Nowhere,” “Last of the American Girls” plus the tempo-changing title track.  Many had speculated whether or not the band could recapture the success of their previous Grammy Award-winning opus, but all of those fears were quickly put to rest with their second three-part punk rock opera. 21st Century Breakdown delivered an abundance of material for listeners to sink their teeth into, as the disc clocked in at just under 70 minutes. In hindsight, 21st Century Breakdown was every bit as good as American Idiot, if not better.

Unlike American Idiot, 21st Century Breakdown was divided up into three separate acts (Act I: Heroes and Cons, Act II: Charlatans and Saints and Act III: Horseshoes and Handgrenades), which gave the album a very distinct beginning, middle and end. This made for a more diversified album that provided the listener with the feeling of immersion within a complete story, as well as trekking alongside the narrative’s characters. Familiar musical themes were repeated throughout, which had been designated to each of the characters, much in the same way John Williams did with his score in Star Wars. The album’s lyrics provided vivid images that allowed the listener to visualize the action as it unfolded within each of the set’s 18 songs… [Read Full Retrospective]

Remembering David Bowie 1947 – 2016

This week inconceivably marks two years since David Bowie’e untimely passing, but it’s still hard to believe he’s gone. This week, on what would have been his 71st birthday, I am once again exploring his extensive catalog, as I fondly reflect upon my personal journey of discovery into the bewildering artistry of Bowie. [Click here to read my celebratory recollection]

Justin Timberlake Drops First Track from ‘Man of the Woods’

Less than a month before headlining the halftime show at the 52nd Super Bowl, Justin Timberlake has just released a funky new track titled “Filthy,” which is the first preview from his upcoming album, Man of the Woods. Upon my first few listens, I must confess my initial reaction is mixed. I like the groove-a-licious beat, but my ears and brain keep endlessly searching for a hook that makes me want to give it repeated attention and I’m not entirely convinced this new tune has the power to bring sexy back.

“Filthy” doesn’t make me feel dirty or clean, just apprehensive, as it ultimately seems like a step backwards from the Tenn. Man’s exceptional 20/20 Experience. However, I don’t want to jump to premature conclusions, because if I’ve only learned one thing over the years, it’s that you can’t always judge an album from its lead-off single.

Click below to decide for yourself:

Hello 2018!

It’s a new year and that means thrilling new musical projects are on the horizon for 2018. The past year gave us quite a few gems including new releases from Tori Amos, Beck, Eminem, The Killers, U2, Guardians of the Galaxy 2’s Awesome Mix Vol. 2 and the first proper solo effort from Liam Gallagher before 2017 ultimately concluding with holiday gifts from Sia, Tom Chaplin and Gwen Stefani.

As we proceed into 2018, we have several exciting items waiting in the wings such as new albums from Florence + the Machine, Father John Misty, Justin Timberlake, MGMT, The 1975 and a new remake of A Star Is Born, containing new music from Lady Gaga. There’s also U2’s highly anticipated Experience + Innocence Tour, so 2018 sounds as if it will be engrossing.

Cheers to a great new year and happy listening to all.