Thursday, March 31, 2016

What I'm Listening To: March 2016

As part of a new end-of-the-month series for this blog, I will do not just mini-reviews of new albums that I’ve heard in the following month but also profile songs that people should listen to as well as music videos to watch. With this blog now returning but in a new state where it’s just there every once in a while as I don’t have the desire to write full album reviews for the time being or maybe ever unless it’s for one particular artist or band like I did last month for David Bowie. For now, here is what I heard and such in the month of March 2016:

Album of the Month: Iggy Pop-Post Pop Depression

In his seventeenth and, maybe, final studio album of his near-5 decade period in music, Iggy Pop goes out with a bang in what is definitely an album that few of his age and stature would make. Produced by Joshua Homme of Queens of the Stone Age who plays in the record with Queens multi-instrumentalist Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, the album sounds definitely recalls the work Pop did in the late 1970s with David Bowie as it has that sound of something that is machine like but with an edge that is just terrifying. Songs like Gardenia, Sunday, and In the Lobby showcase not just Pop’s mastery as a songwriter that can create catchy songs but also with a dark edge. Something that occurs in American Valhalla which is one of album’s standout cuts as is the closer Paraguay that is Pop at his most vicious proving that the Godfather of Punk isn’t going away quietly.

Song of the Month: Deftones-Prayers/Triangles

Though they’re often linked to the late 90s/early 2000 metal sub-genre of nu-metal, unlike many of their contemporaries like Korn. Deftones has managed to really create music that is always different with a sense of edge and creativity that really makes them one of the last unsung heroes of metal but also offer audiences something more in terms of melodies. From their upcoming eighth studio album entitled Gore, the leading single is a track that has a lot of layers in its sound from the melodic guitar textures and slow drumming in its verse. Then goes loud and pummeling in its chorus as Chino Moreno’s vocals is even more powerful while the production and sound itself is even more enthralling thanks in part to Stephen Carpenter’s guitar, Abe Cunningham’s drums, Frank Delgado’s ambient-based synthesizer, and Sergio Vega’s bass. This song is a sign that Deftones are back and metal is still alive and kicking.

Video of the Month: Bat for Lashes-In God’s House

From the upcoming fourth release by Natasha Khan’s Bat for Lashes moniker in a concept album The Bride is its leading single In God’s House. The video is truly one of the most gorgeously shot videos in recent years while saying a lot as it plays into a bride dealing with the loss of her groom. Shot in the desert, the video does have this sense of loss but also elements of surrealism in the fact that a car lights up from inside while Khan sings very somber lyrics of what had happened and how her character in the song is just falling apart.

Monthly Mini-Reviews:

Massive Attack-Ritual Spirit EP

It’s been a very long time since Massive Attack put something that has been worthwhile as their trio of 1990 albums in 1991’s Blue Lines, 1994’s Protection, and 1998’s Mezzanine are considered landmarks for the world of electronic music and defined the sound of trip-hop. After that, things have messy as albums such as 2003’s 100th Window and 2010’s Heligoland didn’t have the consistency of their previous albums nor material that is memorable. This 4-track EP however is actually the best thing they’ve done since Mezzanine as it doesn’t just feature the long-awaited return of trip-hop artist Tricky in their first collaboration since Protection in the song Take It There. The track is just one of the highlights as the rest of the record including the song Voodoo in My Blood features the group in their darkest and most dangerous as it is probably a glimpse of hope that the band could deliver once again with a great album as the video for that song starring Rosamund Pike is just phenomenal.

Primal Scream-Chaosmosis

2013’s More Light was a return to form for the British indie-rock group after a near-decade of albums that were messy or misguided as eleventh studio release sort of scales things back a bit while being more of an electronic-based album. Featuring contributions from Haim, Rachel Zeffira, and Sky Ferreira, the album does bear elements of past albums but in a more simplified presentation that also owes more to today’s electro-pop. Yet, the standout cuts in the single Where the Light Gets In with Sky Ferreira and the folk-based ballad in Private Wars with Rachel Zeffira are the big highlights. The rest of the album show that Primal Scream still has some juice left and can still provide music that is vital.

Savages-Adore Life

The second studio release from the post-punk band may not have that same air of thrill like its predecessor. Yet, this album proves that the band still has that ferocity and danger that made them so fucking good in the first place. The album does feature some more melodic elements than its predecessor in cuts like Slowing Down the World, When in Love, and the first single Adore. The rest of the album is about that energy and danger as it is the kind of record that audiences need in a sea of over-produced pop music that plays it safe.

Suede-Night Thoughts

One of the most influential and certainly one of the most important bands of the 1990s Brit-pop movement, Suede who reunited in 2010 and released their sixth studio album Bloodsport to great acclaim returns once again proving that they’re here to stick around. Their seventh studio release may recall some of the ambitious elements of the band’s 1994 album Dog Man Star in terms of its symphonic approach yet it still has that sense of rock bombast that the band is known for. There are also moments that are quite catchy and melodic as it’s an album from front to back that really has a lot of bite and flair for the dramatics that should put the band up there with the many great bands that defined British music.

Underworld-Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future

For anyone that was listening to electronic music in the mid to late 1990s would know exactly who Underworld is as they were one of the groups in that period that defined not just rave culture but also electronic music at its finest. While the group has been keeping a low profile for much of the 2000s as they focused on film scores, they never stopped making albums. Their ninth studio release is the sound of an act that isn’t just feels revitalized but it sounds like a group that is moving forward while creating the kind of electronic music that means something. Not the kind of music that is made for radio and clubs but rather the kind of music that plays into the senses and the body while showing these young deejays with their laptops in how it’s supposed to be done.

© thevoid99 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016

Favorite Albums Friday #2: Where Darkness Doubles, Where Light Pours In

Favorite Albums Friday is a series of mini-essays weekly or bi-weekly that explores classic albums that made an impact on the world of popular music whether are albums famous to the public or albums that the world needs to hear.

For anyone who is devoted to a band or an artist, studio albums, compilations, or live albums is something they must have but for the hardcore fans. Official recordings are simply not enough as it shows that there is more to be heard as they often come in the form of the bootleg. From jam bands like the Grateful Dead and Phish to rock acts like Pearl Jam and Bob Dylan, the bootleg offers something a whole lot more for the hardcore fans. Whether it’s a concert they attended or rare recordings not heard from in an official capacity. In the case of an outfit like Nine Inch Nails, they don’t fall into any of those categories as their bootleg releases often tend showcase songs that aren’t just their hits but also fan favorites. Still, there is that devoted fan base that has followed the outfit for many years as several bootlegs have been collected and created for many years that only fans would know. Among them is a 2006 bootleg that originated from a series of radio sessions during the band’s summer tour of the U.S. with the legendary Goth band in Bauhaus who had reunited for this joint-tour with NIN.

While it is known by many fans that Bauhaus was a key influence to NIN while the band’s vocalist in Peter Murphy would tour with NIN back in 1990 just one year after the release of their debut album Pretty Hate Machine while Murphy was promoting his third studio album Deep that would feature one of the definitive songs of alternative rock in Cuts You Up. The tour was just a reunion of sorts between Murphy and NIN at a time when Bauhaus was thinking of more than just reforming as they would eventually make one more album in 2008’s Go Away White before disbanding again for good. NIN and Bauhaus would be joined by two different opening acts for the separate legs of their tour in the post-punk band TV on the Radio and the electro-punk artist Peaches. It was during this tour that NIN mastermind Trent Reznor and Murphy decided to do something that was to be a break from the monotony of touring. In these four different radio sessions would be the basis for one of NIN’s most cherished bootlegs that is widely known as Where Darkness Doubles, Where Light Pours In or sometimes known as The 2006 Trent Reznor/Peter Murphy Radio Sessions.

The 2006 tour was a high watermark for NIN as a year earlier, they had released With Teeth which was the band’s first album in six years as it would spawn three #1 modern rock hits in the songs The Hand That Feeds, Only, and Every Day is Exactly the Same. For Trent Reznor, it was a victorious moment as the years since the release of 1999’s The Fragile had been difficult due to that album’s disappointing commercial reaction as well as feeling abandoned by Interscope. All of which would lead to a relapse and a near-death experience in the summer of 2000 in London as the next several years saw not just a failed project in Tapeworm (which never got off the ground) as well as a bitter split with longtime manager John Malm Jr. which would also see the end of their vanity label Nothing Records. For those that had seen the band return in 2005 didn’t just see Reznor trying to readjust himself to a new musical climate but would eventually see the man be rejuvenated which is probably one of the reasons why he decided to collaborate with Peter Murphy for the series of radio sessions during their summer tour.

The first of these sessions were held backstage at the Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta, Georgia on June 7, 2006 (a show that I was fortunate to attend and remains the best concert I ever went to as it was my first NIN show) for a radio session for the now-defunct modern rock radio station 99X. The performance features only Reznor and Murphy as the former sings and plays keyboards with the latter doing a lot of the vocals as the two would do reinterpretation of the NIN song Head Like a Hole into a slowed-down, electronic setting with Murphy doing much of the vocals and Reznor singing the vocals. In a full-on electronic take on Bauhaus’ Sanity Assassin that has Reznor and Murphy trade vocals with the former providing some drum-machine beats and this drone-based synthesizer. The last song of the session is a version of NIN’s Hurt that is given a simple presentation with Reznor playing piano and Murphy singing the song. Though Murphy doesn’t really do anything new vocally that Reznor as well as others like David Bowie and Johnny Cash has done to the song but does make it his own.

The second session was held in Washington, D.C. at the Nissan Pavilion on June 13, 2006 where it would be held to a small audience during a sound check where Reznor and Murphy decided to have the sessions for DC 101 with one of the opening acts on the tour in TV on the Radio. TV on the Radio were just about to release their breakthrough release in Return to Cookie Mountain during the tour as opening for NIN and Bauhaus was kind of the break they needed as their performance for this session also helped gain attention for them. By performing their song Dreams with Reznor and Murphy, the song is given some more power live with driving guitars of David Sitek and Kyp Malone as the latter sings the song with vocalist Tunde Adebimpe. Murphy joins them on the vocals while adding his own flair to the song. Reznor would later join in as it one of the best performances of the sessions.

The song, along with the two other tracks performed at the session, were filmed by NIN’s visual art director Rob Sheridan for its website as he would also film the band doing a cover of Pere Ubu’s Final Solution that Murphy covered in 1986 from his solo debut release Should the World Fail to Fall Apart as it is this menacing cover where Reznor, Murphy, and Adebimpe trade vocals for the song. A take on Bauhaus’ most famous song in Bela Lugosi’s Dead as TV on the Radio bring a very faithful take to the song with a few bits that is their own as Reznor, Adebimpe, and Murphy do a lot with the song.

For the third session set in Boston for a trio of simulcast radio broadcasts for WBCN, WFNX, and WAAF on June 23, 2006 backstage at the Tweeter Center (now Xfinity Center). Reznor and Murphy are joined by two NIN associates in Atticus Ross who provided drum-machines and keyboards for the performance and then-NIN guitarist/bassist Jeordie White who is known famously as Twiggy Ramirez from Marilyn Manson’s live band. Playing to an intimate audience with Reznor on bass/keyboards for the performance, the performance largely features a mix of material including a slowed-down version of the NIN song Reptile that is later mashed-up with a song by the band Love & Rockets (which was formed by the remaining members of Bauhaus) in Haunted When the Minutes Drag that maintains that slow, down-tempo form. Two covers would appear for this session in the form of Iggy Pop’s Nightclubbing that is quite faithful to the song with Murphy singing with some industrial-like beats to the song.

The other cover that is performed is from an electronic act called the Normal called Warm Leatherette which was made famous by Grace Jones. The performance itself is quite intense with Reznor and Ross providing these warbling electronics to the track with White’s noisy guitar textures to Murphy’s vocals. Yet, the highlight of the session is Murphy’s A Strange Kind of Love which Reznor states in the session that this was a song too good to pass up and he was right. It’s a simple acoustic ballad sung by Murphy with White on acoustic guitar as it showcases that even a simple ballad can just liven up a session without all of the bells and whistles.

The fourth and final session of series were recorded on July 1, 2006 in Chicago for Q101 radio at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre during sound check. This session would feature Murphy singing with NIN as a whole where they would nothing but covers of songs by Joy Division. The first of which in Dead Souls was a song NIN did back in 1994 for the film soundtrack to The Crow where they slowed the tempo down a bit as the rhythm section of White on bass and drummer Josh Freese add to that tone with Aaron North’s wailing guitars and a soft yet eerie keyboard from Alessandro Cortini. Murphy would sing the song while Reznor resigned himself to playing guitar in the song. Twenty Four Hours would have a sense of bite to the song though much of the arrangements of the song remains intact to its original with a more driving sound in its guitars and drums with Murphy providing some chilling vocals as he really makes the song his own.

The next two covers would be just as faithful such as the blistering take on the song Warsaw as NIN goes full-on heavy and fast for the song as it plays true to its sound with Murphy singing very fast and to the fuckin’ point. The last song in the session is probably one of the best covers of any band as the NIN/Peter Murphy version of Atmosphere is just something music fans need to hear. It is really faithful yet NIN provide something a little different in terms of Freese’s drum fills and the fact that the song is turned into a duet of sorts between Murphy and Reznor.

A planned fifth session which was to include Reznor singing along with Bauhaus didn’t come into fruition as it was speculated that growing tension within the band was the reason. The bootleg would instead feature two tracks from another NIN bootleg from a radio session in Chicago back in April 27, 2000 during the Fragility tour to promote The Fragile that is known as The CRC Sessions. The two tracks that appear for this bootleg include one of two takes of Hurt and The Day the World Went Away all performed in a semi-acoustic presentation that would later become the inspiration for the band’s 2002 Internet-only EP Still. Though their placement in the bootleg seems odd, it does help maintain that sense of flow and tone with the rest of the album.

Where Darkness Doubles, Where Light Pours In might not be in the same level as legendary bootlegs such as Bob Dylan and the Band’s The Great White North or anything that the Grateful Dead ever did live. For fans of Nine Inch Nails, the bootleg is definitely something that they cherish as it adds so much to not just the live experience. It also showcases that Trent Reznor is willing to do things differently and work with someone as legendary as Peter Murphy to shake things up and break away from the monotony of touring. While there’s other bootlegs of NIN that ranks very high depending on taste or a fondness for a certain period of the band. Where Darkness Doubles, Where Light Pours In is a bootleg that belongs with those NIN bootlegs where it also offers something much more towards its fans from the casual to the die-hard, hardcore fans.

© thevoid99 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016

Favorite Albums Friday #1: The Idiot & Lust for Life

Favorite Albums Friday is a series of mini-essays weekly or bi-weekly that explores classic albums that made an impact on the world of popular music whether are albums famous to the public or albums that the world needs to hear.

On March 18, 2016 will be the release of Post Pop Depression by punk legend Iggy Pop as it is rumored from the man himself that his seventeenth studio album might be his last. If that is true then the album at least showcases one of the most influential figures on rock music going out with a bang as it serves as a fitting finale to a career that saw many highs and lows with a lot of craziness that occurred along the way where he would also plant the seeds for a lot of music that was to come. To many, a lot of genres ranging from punk, post-punk, alternative, and indie wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for what Iggy has done from his work in the late 60s and early 70s with the proto-punk band the Stooges to his solo career. It is fitting that, with the upcoming release of Post Pop Depression, the man deserves some due into why he’s influential and why his first two solo albums in The Idiot and Lust for Life are so widely regarded by many as some of his best work outside of the Stooges.

When the Stooges broke up for a second time in 1974 following a period of notoriety but very little commercial success. Iggy Pop’s career wasn’t going anywhere as an album he made with Stooges guitarist James Williamson in 1975 called Kill City had languished until it was released two years later following the back-to-back releases of The Idiot and Lust for Life. During Pop’s time at a L.A. mental hospital where he was trying to kick his heroin addiction, one of the individuals who was David Bowie who had been a fan of the Stooges and did some remixing for the band’s seminal 1973 album Raw Power in an attempt to boost their lack of commercial viability. Bowie’s visits would get Pop out of the hospital where Pop would join Bowie on the road during the Isolar Tour to promote Bowie’s 1976 album Station to Station.

Among the first batch of material that would be written for The Idiot and later re-worked as Red Money for Bowie’s 1979 album Lodger is a song called Sister Midnight as it is this mixture of funk, art-rock, and the emergence of electronic-based music that was happening in Germany. Led by this funk-based riff by the song’s co-writer in guitarist Carlos Alomar, the song is this mid-tempo cut that include these bopping, funk-based rhythms that would later be overdubbed by Bowie’s rhythm section in bassist George Murray and drummer Dennis Davis. It’s a song that is filled with some weird yet playful lyrics as the song was first performed by Bowie during the Isolar tour of 1976 in a rough form as he would later perform the song again in his final tour in 2003/2004. Yet, it’s Iggy’s song all the way where he had these vocals that are off the wall as well as flairs that are just unique.

The song was the genesis of this collaboration between Pop and Bowie where they were aided by Bowie’s collaborators in Alomar, Davis, and Murray as well as Bowie’s producer Tony Visconti would do the final mix for The Idiot. It was made at a time when Bowie was making his own albums that would become Low and “Heroes” as those three albums along with Lust for Life were either partially-recorded or made entirely in Berlin at Hansa Studios. Though there has been some claims from fans of Pop, who prefer his more punk-based style, in believing that The Idiot was largely a Bowie album sung by Pop. That’s not really true as it is obvious that Pop did write a lot of the lyrics on the album while providing some of his own input into the music though if one were to compare it to some of Pop’s other solo albums like 1979’s New Values or 1993’s American Caesar. They would probably wonder if The Idiot was a genre exercise or something else but it does carry a sense of adventure that Pop probably wouldn’t have done with some of his solo work and actually showcased ideas that would plant the seeds for post-punk.

Among these songs that showcased Pop and Bowie’s flirtation with electronic textures and song structures that would be considered part of the template for post-punk are songs like Baby, Dum Dum Boys, and the album closer Mass Production. With Bowie serving as producer for the album as well as play lots of keyboards, synthesizers, and saxophone, the songs definitely have a sound and tone that isn’t punk but it’s not conventional rock either with Baby having Bowie playing synthesizers and piano as it is this mid-tempo tune with some very eerie lyrics and vocals from Pop who provides something that is dark in the song. Dum Dum Boys and Mass Production are these down-tempo tracks with the former being a more conventional rock song of sorts though it starts off with Pop talking about former friends and such including original Stooges bassist Dave Alexander who died in 1975 of alcoholism while playing to a piano. It’s a song that is just really eerie in the fact that it is a song about loss in the darkest ways where it sort of serves as a template for another genre that would come out of punk in Goth though in a very direct way.

The latter in Mass Production is a song that definitely owes a lot to the music of Kraftwerk from its opening sounds of warbling synthesizers as it is followed by these slow, thumping rhythms as it is a track led largely by its synthesizers which has this sound of imperfection as if it was still in childhood stage. The song has these very intense yet imagery-based lyrics that really is street as one of the things that makes Pop unique is that he is an artist of the streets in some respect as the Stooges were largely based in Detroit though Pop really comes from a trailer park in Ann Arbor, Michigan. That sense of street-smart would appear in a song like Funtime which is this up-tempo rock song with some dark lyrics and Pop in haunting vocal with Bowie singing back-up. It is has this mixture of out-of-tune, machine-like synthesizers and raw guitars where it a song that is kind of the closest thing to the Stooges on that album.

For anyone that wondered where a song like Closer by Nine Inch Nails comes from, it’s in Nightclubbing due to sound of those thumping drum machine beats as it is clearly a dark and dirty song because of those beats, fuzzy synthesizers, a jazz-like piano from Bowie. It has these lyrics that are odd but also intoxicating in its imagery where it also has Pop taking on different vocal ranges for its two different verses where it starts off having him sound like a lounge singer and then be in a more robotic-kind of vocal that just adds a lot more. Those beats from that song provide the basis for the beats in Closer which is probably why NIN mastermind Trent Reznor liked it so much that he would later cover the song for a radio performance with Bauhaus’ Peter Murphy, then-NIN guitarist Jeordie White, and longtime collaborator Atticus Ross.

Jazz is also heard in a ballad called Tiny Girls which is this smooth track with a bopping rhythm and Bowie on the saxophone as it sort of the anomaly of the album but it is this amazing song. Especially for Pop’s vocals and his playful lyrics while Bowie definitely shows his knack for the saxophone which doesn’t get a lot of credit. He’s not like a top jazz player or anything but has this approach to the sound as a saxophonist that is so intoxicating to listen to. Then there’s the one song that is probably the most famous song of the album but audiences more familiar with pop will probably have heard the song in a different form from one of its co-writers. That song is China Girl as it is this song that features these ominous yet intense lyrics as Bowie would recall in an episode of VH1 Storytellers in 1999 where he and Pop were in Berlin as it relates to what they had seen as they went back home and came up with ideas for what would be this song.

With Pop playing drums on the song as it has this thumping, mid-tempo rhythm that is followed by raw, driving guitars and Bowie’s swooning synthesizer melodies. It is a song that is quite dark in its presentation yet Pop’s vocals manage to be full of raw emotion in the lyrics he sings as it is probably one of his finest vocal performances. When that song came out in 1977, it never went anywhere until Bowie did his own version for Let’s Dance six years later and it became a worldwide hit that would provide Pop lots and lots of money for years since he did write the song with Bowie.

If The Idiot was this wild experiment into the world of electronics and art rock that set the tone for a lot of genres to come. Then its follow-up in Lust for Life is an entirely different ball game but like its predecessor, both albums are filled with a sense of adventure and experimentation. Yet, the album is more rock than electronics and art rock as well as providing some templates for the post-punk genre in one of the album’s most famous songs in The Passenger. Led by co-writer in guitarist Ricky Gardiner’s driving guitar riff and a steady walloping rhythm by bassist Tony Sales and drummer Hunt Sales, the song is filled with some haunting lyrics that include some of Pop’s chilling vocals. It’s a song that has a lot of imagery in its description which could also be served as a template for the genre of Goth as one of the genres premier bands in Siouxsie & the Banshees would later cover the song in 1987 for their all-covers album Through the Looking Glass.

The other song from the album that is also quite famous is its title track where it is a song that is just massive in its sound thanks in part to the production as the album was produced by Bowie, Pop, and Colin Thurston all in the alias as the Bewlay Brothers after a song from Bowie’s 1971 album Hunky Dory. The moment those bombastic drums films are heard, it is clear that this is really unlike anything as it is driven by Carlos Alomar’s playful guitar riffs and walloping rhythms while Pop sings these weird lyrics as it is filled with a sense of ambiguity but also a sense of celebration. One of the most legendary things that is heard about the song is that Pop and Bowie got the idea of the rhythm from a Morse code signal from the Armed Forces Network while they were waiting for Starsky and Hutch to air on TV. Yet, that rhythm and those drum sounds would be used in a million songs to follow for many years while the song would later get a new life nearly 20 years later due to its appearance in the 1996 Danny Boyle film Trainspotting.

Two songs in the album’s A-side in Sweet Sixteen and Some Weird Sin are full-on rockers that display Pop’s street edge as well as the fact that he still is the Godfather of Punk thanks in part to the musicians who were part of live band in early 1977 in Bowie, Gardiner, and the Sales Brothers. The former is just this primal, driving rocker with a nasty yet bopping rhythm with Pop just going all out with its confrontation lyrics and snarling vocals as it is raw to the fullest. The latter is a more of a mid-tempo piece that features some blazing guitar riffs and a solo from Gardiner as well as thumping, hard-hitting rhythm courtesy of Hunt Sale’s walloping drumming. Pop, accompanied by Bowie on backing vocals, sings in a very fast yet direct form as it play into lyrics that are weird but also to the point of sin as it is one of the album’s finest deep cuts.

Bowie’s involvement with this album would later have him use two songs from the album for his much-maligned 1984 album Tonight in the form of that album’s title track and the song Neighborhood Threat. The former starts off as this somber yet loud mid-tempo tune with Pop singing about loss about a young woman dying of a drug overdose. Then the tempo changes into something more upbeat with Pop displaying amazing vocals as he’s backed by Bowie’s backing vocals and a steady rhythm section while Ricky Gardiner provides this amazing solo. Though Bowie would cut out the intro for a smooth, reggae song in a duet format with Tina Turner, it is clear that Pop’s version is more superior though Bowie’s attempt to make the song more commercial in tune with what he was doing at the time. In the latter, the song is a straight-ahead rocker with wailing and melodic guitar textures, hammering beats, and Pop’s more street-edge vocals as it is more to the point as opposed to what Bowie was doing which was so indicative of 1980s production with its loud, gated drums and synthesizers that would sound very dated.

A mid-tempo rocker in Success is a song that has this driving rhythm in its guitars, bass, and drums as it is a song that is about the fantasy of success with Pop providing a sense of charm into the lyrics. It is one of the album’s finest cuts along with two other tracks in the album in the eerie ballad Turn Blue that Pop and Bowie wrote with Walter Lacey and longtime Bowie cohort Geoff MacCormack in his Warren Peace alias. It is this ballad that highlights Pop’s abilities as a vocalist where it a song full of regret and loss while he is accompanied by this slow yet hammering rhythm section as it is one of the album’s highlights. The album closer Fall in Love with Me which was written with Bowie and the Sales Brothers is a playful, mid-tempo cut where it is probably the only track to involve Brian Eno from an outsider’s view as he was Bowie’s collaborator in the two albums they made in 1977. Though Eno was probably not credited or was directly involved with any of the albums that Pop did. The fact that the song had Gardiner playing drums instead of guitar, Tony Sales on guitar instead of bass, and Hunt Sales on bass instead of drums is an idea that obviously comes from Eno’s Oblique Strategies tarot cards. Yet, it has this unique sound as it does play to something that is raw with Pop being funny in his vocals and lyrics.

Like Iggy’s work with the Stooges before him, The Idiot and Lust for Life weren’t commercial successes in the U.S. but did find an audience in the U.K. as the legacy of those two albums would help inspire the world of punk of what it could happen in life after punk. Though it would take more than a decade for Pop to have some commercial success in the U.S. where he would finally score a top 40 U.S. hit in 1991 with Candy from the album Brick by Brick. Pop has managed to secure a stature in the public eye as not just some punk legend but also an unlikely pop culture figure through his work on the Nickelodeon show The Adventures of Pete & Pete and films like Cry-Baby and Dead Man. The title track for Lust for Life would become a bigger hit in 1996 due to its appearance in Trainspotting as the song would be used in ads and such to the point where punk’s godfather was now rich and getting some overdue attention.

Having already been inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2010 as part of the Stooges and making a slew of albums that ranged from hard rock, punk, and in recent years, jazz music sung in French. It is amazing that of the artists from his era that were notorious for being dangerous, doing all sorts of drugs, and other crazy shit that makes the antics of today’s pop starts look tame. He is still alive for some reason which is also kind of sad considering that one of his compatriots in Lou Reed had died in 2013 and now that one of his champions in David Bowie had unexpectedly passed away this past January. It is surprising that Pop is probably the last man standing at this point which is probably why Post Pop Depression is definitely one of his best albums in his career.

Like Reed and Bowie, Pop still has the power to shock and do something that is dangerous which isn’t surprising into the kind of music that these men made. What is surprising that as Pop will turn 69 this April is that he is making music that is quite vital and dangerous where most artists in that age or older are either coasting on their past or just ease themselves into their comfort levels. By teaming up with Josh Homme and Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age and Matt Helders of the Arctic Monkeys, the album definitely recalls the work of The Idiot and Lust for Life in spirit as it has a sense of darkness and energy that a lot of today’s pop music seems to lack. Especially in the world of rock which had become extremely polished as Post Pop Depression seems to be the right anecdote for rock.

If Post Pop Depression is to be Iggy Pop’s final album, it is a fitting way to go as it does complete the circle of music that he had began nearly 40 years ago in France and Germany with David Bowie on The Idiot and Lust for Life. Those two albums aren’t just classics in their own right but it also paved the way for so much to come. Even as it adds so much Pop’s legendary status regardless if they fit in with the rest of his body of work that include his legendary work with the Stooges. They’re albums that are dangerous, unsettling, and compromising but also manage to be a lot of fun and you can dance to it. In spirit, they’re both punk rock albums and who better to do that than the Godfather of Punk himself in Iggy Pop.

© thevoid99 2016

Friday, March 4, 2016

Favorite Albums Friday Announcement

Starting next week and on every other Friday, a new series of mini-essays and such will be the setting for a new project that would express my love for music. It's called Favorite Albums Friday. The project is a look into a series of classic albums by an artist, band, or whatever that has made an impact in the world of popular music. Whether it's a classic studio album, a film soundtrack, a live album, or a compilation album featuring many artists. The project will unveil one, two, or a trilogy of albums by someone, a band, or a bunch of people were involved in and why they're so incredible. Hope you all enjoy.

© thevoid99 2016