The Smashing Pumpkins are a few weeks away from releasing their new album, Shiny and Oh So Bright Volume I (out November 16). This first collection of songs is the first in over 19 years with William Patrick Corgan (he has stopped going by Billy), Jimmy Chamberlain and James Iha. The first two songs released so far, “Solara” and “Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)” are fantastic songs that sound modern but still hark back to the bands heyday. There is a planned Volume II that is supposed to be released later on next year along with a full length tour.
The Smashing Pumpkins- Solara:
The Smashing Pumpkins- Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts):
This is not a review, rather this is a recap of this magical show. Back in March of this year, Cave In bassist Caleb Scofield was tragically killed in a car accident. Since his passing, his peers have come together to raise funds for his family as well as celebrate Caleb’s legacy. This past evening at The Wiltern, the second tribute show to celebrate Caleb happened and it was something special.
Since the explosion of electronic music in the last decade, I’ve noticed a resurgence of industrial music, which makes me happy. Industrial inspired bands like Youth Code, Khost, and Fact Pattern have brought the style back and are killing it. Now, there is another band that is really taking industrial music to a different level and they are called Street Sects. Formed in 2013 by vocalist Leo Ashline and multi-instrumentalist Shaun Ringsmuth, Street Sects have taken industrial music and mixed in punk rock, ambience and chaos to create a sound that stands out among the others. Their new album The Kicking Mule (out October 26) has a style that is inspired by bands like Roxy Music and Brian Eno as well as Berlin-era Bowie and Pretty Hate Machine era Nine Inch Nails. The songs are intense and full of life. One listen and you’ll have the sudden urge to get up and move. Singer Leo Ashline’s vocals are reminiscent of the like of Brian Molko of Placebo and Low/Station To Station era Bowie. Street Sects are a band that have found their own niche with The Kicking Mule and have successfully created a sound that will instantly capture those listening.
I really love when the music chosen for a scene in movie or tv show really fits. Even if it’s for just a brief moment, that scene and song will stick with you. Last night while looking for something silly to watch, Superbad caught my eye. While watching and the scene with the demolishing of the police car happens, I knew right then what I needed to write about tomorrow. Van Halen’s Panama will now forever be tied to Superbad for me. Anytime I hear that song, I always go back to this scene.
A couple years back Meg Myers came on the scene with a sense of urgency. Her unbridled delivery and very real lyrics made her an artist to watch. Meg sure made an impact with her debut album Sorry as well as her intense live performances. Now on her second album, Take Me To The Disco, Meg takes risks and explores a side that delves deeper into the last couple years of her life.
The album begins with the title track “Take Me To The Disco.” This song sets a mood and gives you a lyrical taste of what is to come. “Numb” the first single deals with the pressures of being on a major label and all the weight that comes with it. “Jealous Sea” is one of those songs that really hits. The moody music and beats along with Meg’s lyrics and vocal prowess on this song really makes it a standout track. Other stellar songs include, “Tear Me To Pieces,” “Little Black Death,” “Done,” “Tourniquet” and “I’m Not Sorry.” One of my personal favorites “The Death Of Me” is one of the best songs Meg has ever written. You can feel every emotion she sings about from heartbreak, anger, and love. It’s a truly powerful song. Closing out the album is “Constant,” a song that really sums up the album and what it stands for. It’s one of those songs that gives you chills while listening.
Take Me To The Disco is an album that stands out on it’s own. It’s not trying to duplicate what Meg did on Sorry. The production of Christian “Leggy” Langsdon, crosses genres and gives the album a breath of fresh air among a sea of over-produced manufactured garbage. Meg Myers is as real as it gets. I’ve often thought of her as a cross between Fiona Apple and Tori Amos, and on this album her Tori side comes out a bit more. Meg is without a doubt a bright spot in a rather dull and corporate styled market. After listening to Meg bare her soul, you’ll understand why Meg Myers is truly an artist to watch out for.
Yes, I am on a huge Depeche Mode kick right now. There is something so genuine and pure about a Depeche Mode album. Martin Gore’s songs along with Andy Fletcher’s soundscapes and Dave Gahan’s incredible vocals, make Depeche Mode a band that is timeless and exhilarating to listen to. One of my favorite stories about Depeche Mode is how they found Dave Gahan. The story goes, Vince Clarke (former member/founder of Yazoo and Erasure) was out one evening and saw Dave Gahan on stage doing a rendition of David Bowie’s “Heroes.” After that, Dave was in the band and Depeche Mode was born. So it’s only fitting that I share a cover of “Heroes” for you all to enjoy.
Depeche Mode is one of the most intriguing bands of the last 30 plus years. They have never been a band to keep making the same album. They’ve experimented and evolved in a way that is truly astounding. Each album stands out on it’s own. Some are better than others but the true essence of Depeche Mode is in each of their releases. Which brings me to their 1993 album Songs of Faith and Devotion. Following up an album like Violator is never easy but, this is Depeche Mode we are talking about. They followed up their breakthrough album with a record that took chances and showed just how really diverse Depeche Mode is.
Songs of Faith and Devotion is the eighth studio album in the bands catalog and it’s one of their more darker and aggressive albums. This album would be produced by Flood again and was recorded in a rented home which the band built a studio and live and worked in. This album saw the band become very interested in the alternative music that was taking over. Bands like Jane’s Addiction and Soundgarden have been mentioned as key inspirations for the albums sound and style. The making of the album was quite difficult. Growing tensions among band members and drug addiction had caused some very trying times for Depeche Mode. Despite all this, Songs of Faith and Devotion is one of the best pieces of work the band has ever put out. Songs like “Walking In My Shoes,” “I Feel You,” “Condemnation,” In Your Room,” “Rush,” and “Higher Love,” just further prove that this album is truly remarkable. Even with the addiction issues, Dave Gahan’s vocal performances on this album are beyond stellar. Martin Gore, in my opinion, outdid himself with the songs he wrote on this album. Perhaps the growing tensions within the group especially the most strained between drummer Alan Wilder and Gore, helped to make some of the bands best songs. The following promotional tour for the album, The Devotional Tour, would be regarded in the bands history as their most “debauched” rock tour ever. This tour would also be the catalyst for the long break the band took afterwards before they would begin work on their album, Ultra.
Depeche Mode’s catalog is full of so many great albums. Violator is always going to be the one that the “masses” reach for but, the deep fans know there is more than just “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy The Silence.” Personally for me Songs of Faith and Devotion is in my top 3 favorite Depeche Mode albums (the other two are Music For The Masses and Exciter). There is something truly beautiful about how all the negativity that surrounded the making of this album created a record that surpassed an expectations that people would have. For almost 40 years now, Depeche Mode has proven you don’t need to make the same record twice. Taking chances and evolving in a way that still keeps the essence of the band in tact, has always been key to the bands success, and Songs of Faith and Devotion cements that fact.