Category Archives: Music

Eiffel Tower – New Song from Simon!

While on vacation, I noticed DDHQ post a link to a song on Soundcloud with a very familiar vocalist. The song is titled “Eiffel Tower” and the singer is none other than Simon Le Bon, of course. I had almost no data connection, so I had to wait to listen.

The lack of data didn’t stop me from seeing the comments, and nearly everyone had something positive to say. I couldn’t wait to hear it myself! I made a mental note to listen as soon as I could and thought about it throughout the week(s).

(On a side note: if you’re obsessing over a song you haven’t heard yet by a member of the band, not even the band as a whole – I kind of think that might make you a Duranie. Only another hard-core fan would understand the kind of obsession that drives us!)

So today, I promised to sit down and listen. I found the link, clicked on it, and almost immediately felt the familiar chills and goosebumps on my arms. Simon’s voice is like silk, and the music is like a favorite blanket. Lush and soft – its gorgeous. The guitar is beautiful!  The track is full of emotion and it doesn’t overpower the rest of the music. I can even hear strings in the background, and they lead the listener further into the music.

Layered songs with many different tracks like this one can sometimes get very messy and end up sounding like background noise to vocals, but not here. The production is done extremely well. At the end, there’s a gorgeous, beautiful guitar solo that I have heard is Warren, and it is done masterfully.  The guitar doesn’t overpower, it simply led me back out of the song in the same way that the strings held my hand and drew me in.  Brilliant.

But back to Simon’s voice. It blows my mind into pieces. I don’t know if he is responsible for the lyrics, but even if he didn’t write them, he delivers them like poetry.  I’d forgotten his velvety voice when he is relaxed and not trying to reach a crowd of 20,000.  Absolutely stunning in every single way.

The song ended, and I caught my breath. I realized I’d been holding it for quite some time while I listened.  This was a song that was going to stay with me, and I love when that happens. This single piece took me on a journey, and not many pieces of music do that for me these days.

And then, another song began. The instrumental version. I almost couldn’t take it. I was already completely sold on the song, but somehow, this piece took everything I loved about the first one, stood it on its head, and made it even better. 

I’m a sucker for a full orchestra. I won’t lie. Let’s face it: I spent much of my childhood playing in an orchestra, so it makes sense, really. But this is different. It’s kind of like hearing the orchestral version of A View To a Kill, but even better.  Again, I get the chills going up my arm and the hair on the back of my neck stands on end.  I was already on a high from the first version, but the orchestral version took my feelings up a notch.  My eyes welled up, and the emotion I’ve had bottled up for the past six weeks spilled over. I won’t be able to forget this song for a very, very long time.

Which is exactly how I like it.

Take a listen for yourself and see what you think.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower (Orchestral Version) 

-R

RIP Sir George Martin

I went to bed really early last night and missed the tweets announcing that Sir George Martin, long time producer, arranger, conductor and “Fifth Beatle”, had passed away at the age of 90.

My journey through the wonderland of Beatles music began long after they had stopped recording as a group and moved on to other things, but that didn’t stop me from discovering them and falling in love, even going so far as to take a class on just their musical catalog when I was in college. (My professor was terrible. Talk about ruining what should have been the best class ever….)

 If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George.

Sir George Martin was part of the heart and soul that was The Beatles. It is no small thing that Paul McCartney acknowledged the title of “Fifth Beatle” in his kind condolence letter after the news came out late last night (or this morning if you happen to anywhere else in the world…) If George hadn’t been producing them, he was arranging them, conducting the orchestras that worked with them, and much of the music that came to be known as favorites – “Yesterday” among them, would not be the same without his influence.

Two of my favorite songs ever were touched by the hand of Sir George Martin – “Eleanor Rigby”, as he arranged it,  and “Fixing a Hole”, where he played harpsichord. Plenty of the more “experimental” things The Beatles did over the years was completed with George Martin at the helm. Think of “Day in the Life”, or “Strawberry Fields”, even the circus atmosphere in “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”.  It wasn’t until very late in the band’s career,  notably the White Album, that The Beatles really produced on their own, meaning that it is likely that much of the music we listen to from The Beatles today we can thank Sir George Martin for, at least in part.

Fans have commented that kids today are listening to trash, that the greats have left us. Sir George Martin lived quite a long life – the beauty being that his art stays behind. I’d also add that it is up to us, the parents out there, to expose and teach our children about music. Even my parents, who were by no means experts about music of any kind,  consistently had music playing in our house. I heard everything from Elvis (a LOT of Elvis, I might add) to Elton John and The Beach Boys (“Help Me Rhonda”. sigh)  My kids had a pretty steady diet of Duran Duran, The Beatles, Oingo Boingo, Frank Sinatra, Tears for Fears and even a few Reggae groups in there somewhere…along with countless others while growing up. While I’m pretty sure that my oldest still listens to some pretty cringeworthy stuff (we all do at one point or another…as I recall my own college “Hair Band” years…oh boy), I know she has a pretty diverse library to choose from. My son took the EDM route. If you knew him you’d agree with me when I say it’s weird, but hey, there are moments when he’s listening to something that I’ll do a double take because it sounds just the tiniest bit like a band I know. Imagine that!! (I take a little delight in knowing that as far as he thinks he’s getting away from me…I’m still right there!) My youngest is still figuring it all out, but any kid who will request “Pressure Off” every time we’re in the car has GOT to be on the road to good taste.  I’m sure many of you find the same with your kids. It’s up to us to pass it on, and we should.

RIP Sir George Martin, and thank you for a life well-spent.

-R

Music Wins

It isn’t every day that I feel like I’m on the winning end of something, but today – or last night, rather, I did feel a little uplifted. Eagles of Death Metal returned to Paris, and I must admit it is one show that I wish I could have attended. I’m not even a EODM fan, but their cause matters to me because I love music.

Not all that long ago, I remember sitting at my computer. I’d just finished watching Duran Duran play at the Eiffel Tower, and I was monitoring Twitter while working on a project with my kids for school. I began seeing tweets about something going on in Paris, so I switched on the TV to CNN. It was then that I heard about the attacks at the soccer game and Bataclan, along with other restaurants in Paris. Naturally my thoughts went to Nick, John, Simon, Roger and Dom….which led to the longest half-hour (or so) of my life, as I waited to hear that all was fine. That was a terrible afternoon and evening, even after seeing that all members of Duran Duran were fine. Average, regular people – concert goers like myself or anyone reading, had just gone to see a band play, and didn’t go home.

That night sticks with me. Here I am, sitting at a computer about half the world away – nowhere near Le Bataclan or the terrorist shootings, and I still feel the pain. A certain part of my utopia was crushed that night, because when I go to a concert, I leave the world at the door. That is my time to reflect on nothing but the music, and like anyone else, I treasure that time. I am sure many, if not everyone in attendance to see EODM that night, feel similar.

Then there is EODM. I can’t fathom their pain, or their anxiety about playing live again. To be engrossed in a performance and then look up to see a massacre like that must have felt like something out of a horror movie. But it was of course, all too real. How does one go on from that? I don’t have any clue. But they did.

So last night in Paris, the band played on. There were 2,800 people gathered at The Olympia, including 900 survivors and family members from the attack, which killed 89 “friends of the band” in the club that night. There were counselors present, and from everything I’ve read, it wasn’t about sadness, but about moving on. During their first encore, they played their cover of Save a Prayer. I know that had I been there – it would have been impossible to remain stone-faced and dry-eyed.

It isn’t my interest to comment on gun control, or the laws of other nations on this blog. I leave that stuff at the door here just as I do when going to a concert. Jesse Hughes – the lead singer of EODM, said something that I think sums up my thoughts perfectly. “I don’t really care about guns,” he told CNN. “My weapon is a guitar.”

Music wins.

-R

Look For the Girl With the Sun In Her Eyes and She’s Gone

They are pretty much dropping like flies at this point, aren’t they?  I have to admit that each morning as I open my laptop, I’m almost nervous to see what the news might be…which idol, legend, favorite, etc, has left us.  January has not been kind to the music lover this year. Yesterday afternoon, it was announced that Glenn Frey, founding member of The Eagles, had passed away. I don’t know how popular The Eagles were in other countries, but for me – they were one of the quintessential California bands of the 1970s. I grew up listening to them on the radio, whether I knew it or not at the time.

At heart, I am a rock and roll girl. While it’s certainly true that Duran Duran has left an indelible mark on my soul and I love 80s New Wave with a passion that continues to burn bright a few decades later, it is also true that I adore a great classic-rock guitar. (is this really a surprise to anyone?)

Some of my friends had parents that listened to The Beatles, whereas my parents were fans of Elvis, in a pretty big way.  My mom likes to say that The Beatles came too late for her in the same way that I say New Kids on the Block were too late for me…so I get it. (Although I am a pretty big fan of The Beatles, oddly) Before I came along, my parents were also big fans of The Beach Boys (hence my name). I don’t know how that fits into the whole “rock” scenario – but we all have our departures. For instance, I love Duran Duran, but can also be known to blast Styx (anything but Mr. Roboto) from time to time. It happens. I make no apologies, but I’m getting away from myself. The point being, I was groomed on rock and roll (and a little bit of the blues, I guess…which is both bizarre…and fitting at the same time.)

When the news came out about Glenn Frey yesterday, I started thinking about all of the songs I knew of his. There are too many to list, yet again – just as I noticed with Bowie – I really didn’t take stock in many of them until after he was gone. It’s the case where I recognize his music, I don’t typically change the radio if they happen to come on, but I also didn’t seek him out, and I didn’t ever stop to think of just how many of his songs I really knew. I think in a lot of ways we take these legends for granted. We don’t ever consider that one day they might not be here, until they’re just not…and this month, well, that’s happening on a near daily basis, isn’t it?

I was in the car this morning, considering what I might write about this morning, and Come on Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners came on the radio. This is one of those songs that I almost never turn off. If it comes on – whether it’s the radio or my iPhone – I don’t skip it or change the station. I love the song. It’s ridiculous, but it always reminds me of school dances in junior high. You’d think that memory alone would be enough to force my hand, but no. They’re good memories, albeit awkward ones. Then I started thinking about other songs that I always allow to play through, and decided to create a list when I got home. I’m going to share mine here – trying to go for at least 25, but we’ll see. The caveat: NO Duran Duran, and they have to be songs that whenever they play – you let it play through. I have a ton of songs that I adore (in fact, most of my favorite songs are this way), but I have to be in the right mood to hear them.

These songs, for the most part, aren’t even favorites (with the exception of the few classical ones I’ve mentioned – those are definite life long favorites of mine). My list could be WAY longer than 25, and I didn’t include nearly as many new wave songs as I would have first thought. I just sat down and just started writing the first ones that came to mind, coming up with 25 in an incredibly short amount of time, and they are in no particular order, and like I said – I could have added so many more. I was surprised. Makes me wonder why I haven’t ever done this before.

I encourage you to do the same and post it!  I wonder how many out of our lists will be from musicians we consider to be legends?

The Wall………………………………………………….Michael Jackson

Mr. Brightside…………………………………………The Killers

Mad World………………………………………………Tears for Fears

Alive and Kicking…………………………………..Simple Minds

Marriage of Figaro………………………………..Mozart

Rhapsody in Blue…………………………………..Gershwin

Tom Sawyer…………………………………………….Rush

Jessie’s Girl……………………………………………..Rick Springfield

Too Much Time on My Hands……………..Styx

In the Mood……………………………………………Glenn Miller

String of Pearls………………………………………Glenn Miller

Hit Me With Your Best Shot………………..Pat Benatar

Should I Stay or Should I Go…………………The Clash

Anyway You Want…………………………………Journey

We Close Our Eyes……………………………….Oingo Boingo

Blasphemous Rumours………………………..Depeche Mode

Been Caught Stealing…………………………..Jane’s Addiction

Eleanor Rigby…………………………………………The Beatles

More Than a Feeling…………………………….Boston

Infected…………………………………………………..Bad Religion

Under Pressure……………………………………..David Bowie/Queen

Rock With You……………………………………….Michael Jackson

Love Will Tear us Apart………………………..Joy Division

To Cut a Long Story Short…………………….Spandau Ballet

Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds……………The Beatles

-R

Definitively Duran Duran

Yesterday, as I was (supposed to be) working on paperwork, I noticed that Duran Duran threw a question out to the masses on social media. I like the idea of asking fans questions in order to stay engaged – we’ve done that on a regular basis now for the past few years (if not longer), and I really like seeing what kinds of discussions might be sparked, and sometimes – such as yesterday – the answers still surprise me!

The question yesterday was ” If you had to pick one track as THE definitive Duran Duran song, what would you choose?”

First of all, what does “definitive” mean?

Definitivemost reliable or complete, as of a text, author, criticism, study, or the like:

Definitive doesn’t necessarily mean your personal favorite song, although it could be one in the same.  Naturally, naming a definitive song tends to be purely based on opinion, even if widely accepted as “fact”.

Not so surprisingly,  fans have as many opinions of what songs meet the criteria of “definitive Duran Duran” as there might be actual Duran Duran songs recorded. Anything from “Planet Earth” to “Only in Dreams” was mentioned. At first, I tried to keep track – seeing if there was any sort of consensus to be had. Then I noticed there were 2600 responses on Facebook, not counting replies, and realized that my paperwork was actually more important (although not nearly as entertaining). So this morning I took another quick trip through the comments to see if I could pick out any major “themes” to share.

  • Many were frustrated that DDHQ only asked for “one” song. I chuckled when I saw the question first posted, full-well knowing what some of the comments would be. “One definitive song? Are you crazy?” Ah yes, they are actually asking you, dear Duran Duran fan, to make a choice. Choose wisely. (Do you ever get the feeling that Amanda and I take great joy in watching fans make a choice???? It is the little things that keep me going from day-to-day.)
  •  I saw several other people say that because Duran Duran redefines themselves with each album, there really isn’t just one song to define them. Fair answer?
  • Many…and I mean MANY…fans prefaced their answer by saying their choice was their favorite song. The one thing I know for sure is that each of the songs Duran has ever done has their own place secured in the collective history of this band. Does that make each of their songs definitive in their own right? Sure. But is that one particular favorite of yours, dear reader, equal to being the MOST definitive? Only you know for sure.
  • One of the most curious things I saw were several posts written by what appeared to be different Facebook profiles – that were worded exactly the same. Down to the same misspellings and chosen song. Odd.
  • Several people chose a song off Paper Gods as the most definitive. A few songs from the album were mentioned by many different people, so I guess my point is that if there was question about whether or not Paper Gods has hit home with fans, I would say the answer is definitively yes!
  • Another fan chides the fan base and DDHQ in one fell swoop by saying that we’re all missing the point. A definitive and/or quintessential” song cannot be chosen in hindsight, therefore the most current release would be the answer.  A thought worth pondering, for sure.

My own answer for the question became clear when I really thought over what the word “definitive” meant. In my opinion (yes, this is purely my own opinion here), I would think that the word “definitive”, in this case really means that the song defines the band. It is what most people – not necessarily fans  – but average, ordinary, every day people who have heard of Duran Duran, think of when they’re asked what song comes to mind. My own personal favorite song doesn’t necessarily define Duran Duran to anyone, and probably not even to me – at least not entirely. So it becomes pretty clear to me that what I might find to be definitive Duran Duran is not likely to be what the rest of the world would first mention.

In many ways, the answer for this question is likely more difficult for Duran Duran fans than it is the general public – and that’s because fans tend to concern themselves with a bit more of the minutia of Duran Duran than say, John Q. Public might. Many fans mentioned that the band couldn’t be defined by any one point in their career, insinuated that it was nearly a crime to ask such a question. I hardly think that if I asked my neighbor (assuming they in fact know who Duran Duran is) what song defines the band that they’d have difficulty answering in the same way that a hard-core fan might.

Thinking back at the band’s career, and remembering what gets mentioned most often when they’re being introduced at awards shows, or what songs are listed in articles or on television programs when the band is being announced. Invariably, Duran Duran seems to be equated with songs from the 80s, even though we all know they’ve done much more! The public knows Duran Duran as that band who did exotic videos for their songs, and the singles mentioned most often tend to be Hungry Like the Wolf and Rio, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that Hungry Like the Wolf was their breakthrough song here in the US. Do those songs define them? I’m sure many fans say no, with good and fair reason. However, for the public at large – those songs ARE Duran Duran. They are the songs people think of first, they are what will continue to be played on the radio long after I stop listening, and I really believe they are the songs that define Duran Duran to the rest of the world (or at least the part of the world that I occupy). To whittle down from those two songs to a single, firm answer – all I can say is that whenever Duran Duran is played on the radio here – nine times out of ten, it is Hungry Like the Wolf being played. Whenever they are introduced on a television program, or at an awards show, or hosts are talking about the band themselves, I notice that Hungry Like the Wolf is the song being mentioned. Does this make Hungry Like the Wolf the most definitive Duran Duran? Maybe so.

This is humorous to me only because of how much I enjoy the song. I’m still working arduously on not rolling my eyes as the opening chords are played when I’m at a show, and by the time John and Dom saunter over to center stage together, I’ve nearly forgotten how tired I am of hearing it. Alas…

The real irony here?

Hungry Like the Wolf is likely to be the song that out lives us all.

-R

 

The Challenge of New Music

Last week, my posts centered around summarizing the year-end Katy Kafe’s with each of the band members. During the Kafe with John, time was spent discussing the reception of Paper Gods, both by the universe-at-hand (as it was categorized as Pop on iTunes) and by fans (in the discussion of how the band knows who they are at this point, and how the fan base seems to have responded to the album, whether positively or negatively).

I offered my own take from observing the fan base over the past five years (while blogging). It seems to me that there is definitely a faction within (the core fans) that feel that unless the band is following through with the sounds of the first few albums, they are not being true to themselves.  In saying that, I am completely aware that not all fans feel that way. I myself do not feel that way, but that doesn’t change that the feeling exists, and all one needs do is see some responses to the album on Duran Duran’s own Facebook page. Time and space did not really allow for any hypothesizing possible reasons for that feeling here on the blog, although we were offered a few justifications by fans on Twitter that are worthy of discussion.

To summarize, the feedback is simply that the challenge Duran Duran have before them (with regard to fans) is that many have stopped listening to new music. They listen to what they enjoyed while growing up without challenging themselves to expand their knowledge. So the expectation is that Duran Duran will continue to sound like Duran Duran.

To begin with, I don’t think this opinion is necessarily incorrect. I may not necessarily share in the final summation, but I think that for many fans – they’ve just stopped listening to other music. Why is that? Well, let’s be honest: it takes real work and time to stay current. For the vast majority of Duran Duran fans, they’ve hit middle age. They’re busy with careers, families, children…even grandchildren.

For “fun”, I’ll use myself as the example. On any given day, I get up no later than 6:45, rush to get ready and get downstairs. I make coffee and then I write the blog as quickly as possible. I feed my cats, my dog, start laundry, and then I get my two kids who are still living at  home up so that we can begin teaching (I homeschool if you haven’t caught on to that previously). For the next 4-6 hours, I’m trying to be a teacher while still sneaking glances at my phone to make sure the blog hasn’t blown up, there’s no “news” to report, there are no emails that need response, etc. While I suppose I could write while listening to music, I typically don’t – I’m one of those that likes it dead quiet until the caffeine takes effect. I can’t listen to music while teaching is going on because it would be pandemonium, and even while my youngest is working on projects or assignments – music tends to act as a distraction more than a help, and if I’m on earbuds, that is just begging for her to get up and wander away. After school, I’m typically running kids to their various activities – I suppose I could listen in the car, but if you’ve read my blogs recently then you know that my youngest thinks I’m her personal DJ while we’re driving. I do what I can, though, even if it’s just 15 minutes listening to the radio. Then I’m home to make dinner, clean up from dinner, get the youngest to bed, and by then I’m ready to drop. The last thing I’m thinking about at 9:30pm is sitting down to Spotify to “discover” something new, as bad as that sounds. I do my best, even if it’s only for a half-hour of trying out something new on the weekends. To be completely fair, I may have a leg-up on many out there because my kids keep me informed in one way or another.  The point still remains that it all takes time, and unless you’re listening to the radio (and your radio station branches out beyond the typical top-40), it is VERY easy to get lazy and stop challenging your ears. It is comfortable to continue listening to the music from the 80s because it is what is known and liked. The effort comes in to play as the comfort zone is left behind for new territory.

So what is really going on there? Well, I liken it to the same way we tend to stop learning. Ever noticed that the older some of our parents get, the more “stuck-in their ways” they seem to get? My in-laws tend to eat at the same four restaurants and they never leave their town. (I wish I were joking. I’m not.) My mom, on the other hand, tends to formulate many of her opinions based on what she hears from peers at the active senior apartment complex where she lives. There isn’t a lot of outside exposure going on the way there might have been when she was young and dealing with a much wider variety of people. Rather than get myself into trouble in case she’s reading – I’ll just say that her opinions are a lot more well-informed by people who think exactly like her these days. The older we get, the slower the flow of the “information faucet”. The pipe becomes corroded, and the stream slowly narrows to a steady drip. The same natural process occurs with music, if allowed.

So what does one do to keep themselves out of a musical rut? Well, in the very same way that my mom was told by her doctor that she should do mental puzzles like crosswords or practice the piano to keep her mind limber, it would seem that one should take time to exercise their ears and music-appreciation portions of the brain. This is much of the reason why I revel when a band member mentions new music that they’re enjoying. It cuts out a lot of my work, to be honest, because instead of searching through the “new discovery” area of Spotify, I go straight to the search box and type in whatever was mentioned. That doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going to love what they enjoy – but it does mean that at least I have a starting point. For example, I spent time last week listening to Julia Holter – an artist that John mentioned in his Kafe last week. I also gave Tame Impala and even The Weeknd another try, both mentioned by band members last week.  Music is a lot like food in that sometimes, one must expose the taste buds to the new flavor several times before it’s really enjoyed, and then other times – its instant euphoria.

Another possibility comes by way of streaming, like Apple Music, Spotify, or other applications. They each seem to have their own “discover new music” platform. My sister Robin raves about the new groups she’s found through Apple Music’s suggestions. Granted, she spends all day working with earbuds planted in her ears these days, but even she utilizes what is out there to keep her ears lubricated with new sounds, and to be honest: she is much better about it than I am.

I don’t think it matters how we keep our ears exercised, limber and young, as long as we try our best to keep challenging ourselves. Even Paper Gods gave me that challenge. At first, I struggled with the new sounds. I wasn’t sure. I definitely didn’t get it right away. I refused to give up, and I am thankful I didn’t. I appreciate the album far more as a result, and to be honest: I needed the exposure to something new. It was a good kick-in-the-pants for me.

Many may sit back, read this post and figure that they’re happy with what they’ve got. They don’t NEED new music. Fair enough. Far be it from Daily Duranie to argue about expanding one’s musical tastes beyond Duran Duran. That said, I don’t think those people can seriously be disappointed or upset with the band for expanding their OWN musical genre beyond what was popular in 1981, 1985, 1993 or even 2010.  It would make as little sense for Duran Duran to continue rewriting exactly what was on Rio as it would for any 45-year-old to continue wearing parachute pants, banana (hair) clips or bomber jackets. Some might, but that doesn’t make those people particularly interesting – merely just throwbacks to a time that has already passed. Why would we want that for Duran Duran?

So your homework from me this week is to get out there and listen to something new!! When you find something of interest: post it here, on Facebook, on Twitter or even on our Daily Duranie message board (link is up above you in the navigation menu!) for anyone and everyone else to try!

-R

 

 

Flute Interlude & Interlude One (Big Thing) – The Daily Duranie Review

Yes, we know it’s been a few weeks since we reviewed something from Big Thing…so today we’re trying to get back on schedule! Remember the 33 second pieces of music that pop up on Big Thing, first between “Palomino and “Land”, and then again between “Land” and “Edge of America”?  This is our super short review of both “Interlude One” and “The Flute Interlude.”

Since these interludes are pretty short – we’re not going to structure this review like most others, as you’ll read below. It’s a quickie!!

Rhonda

Each interlude is each incredibly short, as in, “Yawn for too long and you’ll have missed the entire thing.” To be fair, they are snippets that, unless I am paying rapt attention – I don’t even notice. I feel badly about that, because obviously the band felt strongly enough about each of them to include on the album, but it just doesn’t add enough power or punctuation to “Palomino, “Land”, or “Edge of America”, for me to really sit back and notice.  It begs an answer to the question of why they may have been included. Each piece is very experimental in nature, and likely the most experimental bits of music the band had included on an album to the date of Big Thing. “Interlude One” has a very cartoon-like sound to it – reminding me very much of something I’d heard on one of the Chipmunks albums I had as a kid.  I don’t really hear how the sound helps to usher in “Land”, but perhaps if the music were slowed down I’d recognize something. “Flute Interlude”, however, sounds much more comfortable in it’s musical place.  I can see how it fits right between “Land” and “Edge of America”, because if you listen to the fade-in, it begins with flute – very light and airy in nature, which truly isn’t that dissimilar from “Land” in some respects.  This flute is very much layered with other sampled sound effects, and then it fades back out as an electric guitar fades in, thus signaling the beginning of “Edge of America” – which, I don’t want to give anything away since we’ll be reviewing that song soon – but it’s a song with a pretty hard-edged guitar.  So the “Flute Interlude” serves the purpose of blending those two seemingly juxtaposed songs together.  It ends one statement while beginning another. I struggle to say the same for Interlude One, to be honest. Even so, I like the way the piece seems to snap a listener out of daydream at the end of “Palomino”, opening the door for “Land” to begin.  While I do like the way the pieces seem to not only mark the end and the beginning with a sort of punctuation mark, I still stand by the fact that if I’m not paying full attention, I almost don’t even hear them most of the time. The punch isn’t powerful enough, and so I have to wonder if it was really that necessary or effective. I’m left feeling that if the idea had been developed for just a little bit longer, perhaps a little more given to the length, the interludes would have met a fuller potential.

Cocktail Rating: 2.5 cocktails!  Two and half cocktails

Amanda:

These interludes are so short.  Of course, it won’t be the last time that Duran includes super short instrumentals on their albums.  Yet, unlike songs like “Return to Now” on All You Need Is Now, these don’t grab my attention in the same way.  I’m not sure why.  The length?  The instrumentation used?  The fact that they are both so experimental vs. more classical, in nature?  Anyway, I always welcome these reviews so that I take the time to REALLY listen and pay attention.  When I listen, I am grabbed by the most obvious aspect of both, which is how the volume starts out slow and gets louder until it changes again towards the end.  As far as “Interlude One” goes, once there is enough volume, you notice how random the instrumentation/sounds are.  It almost reminds me of a record being played on the wrong speed combined with some extra keyboard sounds thrown in for good measure.  It isn’t the most pleasant of sounds, really, as the track is really pretty jarring.  What is interesting, then, is its placement between two slower tracks of “Palomino” and “Land.”  Did they do that to break up the quietness found in those songs?  Did they worry that those songs would be missed or overlooked otherwise?  “Flute Interlude,” on the other hand, comes after Land and before “The Edge of America.”  While “TEOA” is somewhat of a slower tempo, it isn’t as ballad-like as Land and Palomino.  What is interesting is that this interlude ends with a lot of guitar and “The Edge of America” features a lot of guitar.  Is that the connection or the reason for this song’s placement?  Like the previous interlude, this song builds in volume and intensity.  It almost feels like a rapidly increasing heartbeat.  As it grows in intensity, the flute is very much present as is other instrumentation until it is not, leaving only guitar and some additional sampled sounds.  In general, I much prefer this one over “Interlude One.”  The instrumentation is just much more pleasant.  While it is still somewhat jarring at the end, it is not like the sounds of a record being played backwards, which is what the first interlude reminds me of.  Both of these very short tracks, though, remind you that the band really was experimenting with sound in a very different way than they ever had been before.  Overall, these tracks are interesting but still can be easily overlooked.  More importantly, I’m not sure that they really enhance the album much, especially “Interlude One.”
Cocktail Rating:  2.5 cocktails Two and half cocktails

Paper Gods: Can’t Stop Believing

Today is October 6, and that means it’s 4  5 (I am so sorry that I cannot seem to add simple numbers after 11pm at night, which is when I wrote this.) days shy of the first month that Paper Gods has been available.

What a month it has been. Truly.

As everyone has likely already read on this very blog, Paper Gods was not an immediate “love at first listen” for me. I really needed to allow the music to sit and percolate. I needed to pick out elements that I really enjoyed, and give myself permission to take the time necessary for Paper Gods to take ME on a journey.

Let me be clear: I am not a patient person. It is my biggest fault, by far. I expect things to happen instantly. I’m not one to want to wait for much of anything, and unfortunately sometimes – Duran Duran ends up bearing the brunt of that impatience. I shared my experiences with the album as they happened at the time, but I never really came back and explained that after giving the album some much-needed listening, I dearly love Paper Gods.

It seems strange to type that now, nearly a month into an album’s release, but it’s true. It is really difficult to put my journey into words that make sense here, but I’ll try. Like most anything the band has ever done, Paper Gods isn’t a one-listen, throw away album.  It has depth that goes far beyond the words or music, and I should have realized that was going to happen based on the cover art alone.

In a lot of ways, I’m kind of glad I didn’t fall into immediate love with the album. I really like that Paper Gods challenged my ears, something that hasn’t happened in a long time. It isn’t enough to just sit down and pop the CD into a player or hit your iTunes icon. In order to get something out of it, you’ve got to really listen in the same way that I think in order to understand the full breadth of the band’s career – you’ve got to really be willing to look beyond the pinups and videos. I appreciate that the band, and particularly this album, have forced me to think. I’ve needed to pull the band out of the box and off of the pedestal I previously had them, which overall has been a good thing.  Let me give you just a few examples:

Danceophobia was by far the one song off this album that I just could not digest. Yes, the Lindsay Lohan thing really bugged me. It still does to a large extent. That said, it is so much fun live!!! The first night I saw, I couldn’t even move. I just stood there, watching the band. I won’t lie – I wanted to see them SELL IT.  If they really wanted me to like it, then they had better fucking bring it BIG time. I didn’t want a repeat of other songs off of other albums that I won’t even mention here. I wanted to see the band love the song at least as much as they expected us to do. Well, John Taylor danced like a crazy man, and Dom “co-writer of Danceophobia” Brown (shout out to my dear friend CK for constantly reminding me of that fact over the past several weeks) couldn’t seem to stand still either.  I marveled at the scene as my foot started to tap on its own. (dammit!) Then there’s Jessie, the new backup singer, who has more energy than an entire AUDIENCE of Duranies. I’ll say this much: she’s a much better doctor than Lindsay. Big controversial name on the album or not, the song has become one of the most fun in  Duran Duran’s live show, and dammit (again) – I danced. I DANCED. It’s just a silly dance song, and that’s OK.  Not every song they do has to be deep and insightful. Some songs can just be shallow, fun, and tongue-in-cheek. Yes, the band sold it. More importantly, they sold it to ME.  I can’t fight that. (Don’t even bother emailing me your “I told you so’s” CK….)

In some of the early reviews Amanda and I did, I wondered out loud about the album feeling so electronic. It’s something that I’ve heard a lot out of the mouths of a lot of fans, including my own from time to time. Is that really all that fair, though?  I’m not quite so sure. The album still has guitar, PLENTY of bass and a ton of drums. Just because they aren’t necessarily served up in the same way as All You Need is Now doesn’t mean they aren’t there…and this just goes back to taking the band out of the box we’ve been keeping them in. It’s not fair to them, and it is definitely not fair to our own ears or heart. For weeks I sat by my stereo, thinking to myself that I really liked what I heard, but then I’d second and third guess myself by thinking about the lack of whatever it was I thought I needed at the time. The point is that it’s all still there…and if you haven’t grabbed a copy of Bass Player magazine (you know the one, with JT on the cover), you probably should. Many of my concerns, and likely yours too, are addressed in there. The real difference with this album that I believe 100% is that the band is totally behind it. They made their own choices with the instrumentation – and I refuse to fault them for that. In fact, I applaud them.

I’ve seen a few of the songs live at this point: “Pressure Off”, “Paper Gods”, “Last Night in the City”, “Danceophobia”, “You Kill Me With Silence” and “What are the Chances.” That’s half of the regular album, and they haven’t even started the “real” tour yet! I won’t lie: I wanted to see what, if anything, changed with the band as they played from this album live. I wanted to see if they were still one cohesive unit. Let me tell you: they are all that and then some. Sure, there are some songs that require John on synth bass and Dom is in the back because the guitar isn’t quite as up front. There are songs where Roger’s drums – which are in fact STILL drums, thank you – are mostly electronic. There are also songs where everyone is nearly all over that stage, like “Last Night in the City”- you can’t help but dance to that one, and I challenge any EDM fan to stand still – it cannot be done. There are songs such as “What Are the Chances”,  when Dom lights up the entire theatre with his work. Make no mistake, he has made that song his very own at this point. When they play “You Kill Me With Silence”, you can feel the bass coming up right through the floor and it puts me on pins and needles in a way no other piece of music has ever done.  This band has made it a point to learn to play this music for the live show. Don’t miss out on the chance to see or hear any of that.

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time should know that Amanda and I are “thinking” people. We really enjoy reading the lyrics, looking at the art work, watching the videos and analyzing how they all work together to create an overall picture. I think the one thing I love most about Paper Gods is that, like an onion, there are so many different layers. I can’t take the music at face value any more than I should take the cover. When you listen to the songs – it might be really easy to write them off as pure pop. They’re so much more than that once you add in the words, and when you start considering that some of the songs with the most depth are also done with a lot of synth, it’s an interesting sort of dynamic. Just as the cover is far more than a bunch of stickers put up on a backdrop, the album is far more than just some EDM or pop. You don’t actually HEAR that on the first listen, it takes much more attention than just one listen. If you take the album as a whole, you start getting the feeling that this album is an overall look at the career of the band. From “Paper Gods,” a song all about the materialistic nature of our society – using a term that could easily be applied to the band themselves, to “Last Night in the City, ” a tune that is truly about touring, to “Face for Today,” which really seems to be a good bit of advice to today’s young celebrities, on to “Only in Dreams,” which seems to echo some of the feelings a lot of fans have about the band…and finally “The Universe Alone,” which really seems to describe the end. I dare say that the album starts to feel just a bit like a loosely held concept album.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this band is so much smarter than any of us have ever given them credit for.

We waited a long, long, time for this album – and I’m telling you as a fellow fan, it was worth every single second of the wait. Give it many proper, thorough listens from start to finish. There’s a story in there, waiting to be discovered.

-R

 

 

 

 

We Need You — The Daily Duranie Review

The Notorious album had three officially released singles:  Notorious, Skin Trade and Meet el Presidente.  Out of those three singles, there was only one new song released as a b-side.  The rest of the singles featured either other album tracks (Winter Marches On and Vertigo) or remixes of the single.  The only new b-side was a song entitled We Need You, which was the b-side to the song, Skin Trade.  According to the duranduran.wikia.com, the song was a plea for Andy to come back to the studio.  No matter the story behind the song, what do we think of the song?  Is a solid b-side?  Should it have been an additional album track?  Should it have never made it past the cutting room floor?  Read on to see what we think!

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

This song is about as far from the styling found on Notorious as possible. When I listen to this song on its own, I have difficulty placing it in the Notorious era, much less as a B-side to Skin Trade, which is interesting to me.  I would be far more likely to place it during the same time period as Secret Oktober…or even To the Shore in some ways. The music itself is mainly Nick’s keyboards/synthesizers with some piano, and it’s very mellow. For some reason I always liken the song to a lullaby.  There isn’t a lot to the song, it’s short and simple…but sometimes that’s all that is needed.

Vocals

Simon’s voice is soothing when he is in a key that is comfortable for him, and this song is no exception. That’s probably where I get the whole “lullaby” thing from, too.  I love the way he finishes his phrasing by fading and trailing off as opposed to abrupt finishes, it’s beautifully done. I don’t find his voice boring or unemotional here, I think “soothing” is the right word. He’s not frenetic or intense, just very calm, and letting the music, vocals and words speak for themselves without a lot of flash.  I like it.

Lyrics

With all due respect to duranduranwikia – I struggle with the theory that this song is about the band wanting Andy to return to the studio. I mean, I suppose it’s possible and some of the lyrics do fit that theory, but really – Andy was suing the band at this point. This is how the band wanted to respond to him? I am just not sure that’s the case and I don’t think I’ve ever heard the band say as much one way or the other.  I don’t know…seems to me that if this is really about Andy, it was written early on. I did notice that Simon said that he wasn’t interested in taking down or shaking down, and perhaps that is his response to Andy’s suit.  Who knows?! On a different note, I don’t think I’ve ever really had a personal response to these lyrics before, which doesn’t indicate much of anything aside from a lack of personal connection. Even if I don’t relate to them, I can’t fault the song – I’m not going to relate to every Duran Duran song written. The point is that there are enough songs that I do relate to that it keeps it all interesting. I think these lyrics are written well – just super short. Short, simple and probably to the point. Can’t argue with that!

Overall

This is a song that I play when I’m wanting something quiet and soothing. Peaceful. (It comes up on my playlist often around here, I’ll say that much) I wouldn’t say it’s one of my most favorites, but I just like the simple, unadorned method with which this song was written and recorded. Recently Simon said something about how he likes silence in the songs.  I do too, and this song has a lot of that.  During a time where it was very easy to be carried away by the advances in technology, I like that they let the music and the silence speak a little on its own.  The song is short compared to a lot of the songs in their catalog, but it’s also a B-side, and those B-sides are gems in my book. Yes, they’re sometimes a little obscure, and yes, sometimes they don’t follow all of the rules…which is exactly why I like them so much.  A lot of times I think the best songs they’ve done are the B-sides, because they don’t conform to expectations, and they just speak for themselves. I have to applaud that.

Cocktail Rating

3 cocktails! three cocktails

 

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

Interestingly enough, this song, at least initially, does not scream the Notorious album to me, unlike every other track written and recorded during this era.  No, it sounds different.  The funk is definitely not present as almost whimsical keyboards are heard and dominate with other instrumentation hidden deeper in the track.  It almost seems to me that they were trying to capture the feel of Secret Oktober.  In that song, there isn’t much instrumentation heard beyond the keyboards.  It is also a short song, time wise and lyric wise.  Perhaps, because the song is so short, there aren’t many transitions and changes within it.  The only noticeable one is about a minute and a half in when percussion is heard more as are more piano sounding keyboards. The music of the song almost feels tropical or island to me which doesn’t really match with the lyrics or meaning of the song.

Vocals

There isn’t any wrong with Simon’s lyrics in this song.  In general, the song is in a decent range even though there are some lines that push towards the higher end.  Yet, there isn’t much that grabs me or moves me.  In general, Simon’s vocals seem very soft, quiet.  I also find them rather emotionless.  Now, if this song really was to try to get Andy back into the fold, these vocals wouldn’t have done it for me.  Perhaps, though, he is tired of the battle.  Maybe, he is tired of pushing, trying, attempting to bring him back.  The only real emotion that I can sense is during the chorus when Simon is singing the “we need you” part.  It helps that there is a little of layering at that point.

Lyrics

Obviously, these lyrics aren’t lengthy.  Really, there is a verse with a one-line chorus.  Do these lyrics match the idea that the song was written for Andy Taylor, to encourage him come back and join the band?  It is very possible with lines like “Too much has gone down” and “We could bring you gently round”.  If this, indeed, is the case, I’m sure that these lyrics really meant something to the band, at the time.  Yet, I find myself very detached from them.  They don’t make me feel emotion or think much.  Plus, the lyrics are so short.  I just wish that there had been more to the lyrics and, maybe, more mystery to the lyrics, too.  They need something to grab my attention and emotions.

Overall

I always feel like I should be kind when it comes to b-sides.  After all, I could assume that they didn’t take as much time on the song, right?  Yet, I know that there are many b-sides that could have and should have been not only a-sides but could have been singles (Secret Oktober and Late Bar, for example).  Overall, I just think that there isn’t anything very special about the song.  The music is fine.  The lyrics aren’t horrible and either are the vocals.  Yet, there also is nothing special to them either.  Even the potential meaning to the song doesn’t grip me.  Is it because I have come to terms with Andy’s departure?  Maybe.  I know many fans use this song to describe their feelings towards the band.  I haven’t done that either.

Cocktail Rating

2.5 cocktails
Two and half cocktails