Category Archives: Music

Kingdom – Charlie XCX (feat Simon LeBon)

New Music!!

I’m not going to review it yet…but I wanted to make sure to get the link out to everyone who might want some new music on this lovely Thursday.

It is exactly as Simon described earlier – a fairy tale with a touch of darkness, and that darkness really IS legend.  Check it out. You’ll be glad you did.

Thank goodness for new music.

-R

Isn’t it time for the music industry to figure it out?

I’m about to write a blog that is not likely to win me friends in high places. Then again, I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge.

Yesterday, Marvel did something that ultimately endeared them to movie fans, particularly superhero movie fans, but movie fans nonetheless, worldwide. They announced a series of movies, nine of them actually, to a house packed with media and fans alike.  Marvel had sent invites, super “secret” invites to a mysterious announcement type event, and then turned around and invited fans in the Los Angeles area as well, making sure that audience was completely filled.

Those that couldn’t make it weren’t left in the cold. Marvel live blogged the event, and encouraged those in attendance to tweet using a specific hashtag. That way, as the announcement of the next nine movies that Marvel is working to release was made and events unfolded, fans around the world were included in on that excitement. Marvel had set up an entire team of social media to cover the event, knowing that in order for this announcement to go over huge – which is exactly what they wanted and needed – they had to win fans over and create that same sense of excitement whether or not you were in the venue, reading about it on Twitter, or even seeing news of the event in the following days. You see, fans run the show. They are who buy the movie tickets and the merchandise, and they are who shout from the rooftops about the things they are excited enough about to share. They just need to know what to yell.  Marvel gave them exactly that, and more.

Now, this event wasn’t just a static announcement of movies, dates, celebrities and so forth. It was a celebration. Actors were invited out onto the stage, logos were shown, dates were announced, and immediately following the event – new accounts for individual  superheroes hit Twitter.

My friends, THIS IS PR IN THE YEAR 2014. This is using social media the way it is intended to be used, and this is what it means to utilize the power of fans. Getting the power of fans behind a project matters FAR more than the old, tired retweeting what another celebrity said in passing about a 20-year old album or video. Fans post and tweet about what they like. Fans TALK about what they like – and that reach can be huge if given the encouraging environment in which it can grow.

On the other hand, Warner Bros. announced a series of eleven new superhero movies earlier in the month. At a investors conference. No fans were in the seats cheering. Nothing was mentioned about it on social media until a press release made it’s way across the web. The news was basically bookended with announcements of three new Harry Potter spinoffs and another Lego movie. In order to see the movies they were announcing, you had to scour the article…which wasn’t necessarily effective PR.

Don’t get me wrong, the news of more Harry Potter is exciting. If you’re into Legos then I’m sure that news is certainly welcome as well, and the rest of the movies mentioned will definitely interest people as well. I have no doubt that fans will go to see the movies once they appear in theaters….but what I am more interested in at this point is the LEGS that the news had (or lack thereof). Is it getting chatted up in the same way the Marvel announcement from yesterday seems? I’d argue no. Absolutely not. Let’s face it, Marvel knew that they needed to grab the attention (and loyalty) from fans. This isn’t about just sending out a boring PR announcement, this is about shaking the trees and getting Marvel’s voice heard above all else. It’s about using the power and passion that fans have, harnessing it and making it do a good portion of the work. It’s about investing a little to get a huge return…one that goes on beyond the announcement event itself, and it works. I highly doubt a single person who came out of that Marvel announcement didn’t at least send a single tweet, photo, make a Facebook announcement, or comment to someone about the event itself. I know I saw hashtags about it all over Twitter yesterday, and more on Facebook today.

From my point of view, there is much to be learned from this single example. You can release an album that you’ve been working on for a couple of years with a bunch of promo appearances and let the media do the work – because well, isn’t that the job of the media?! A few fans will show up at these appearances, they’ll tweet here and there and hopefully, radio will kick in and maybe something will get some play.  The more interesting alternative; however, is to do something completely out of the box, get fans to the event and excite them so much so that they turn around and shout that news out to as wide an audience as possible, and so on.  Something like that, has real legs. Talking about the event will go on for many days AFTER the event, and that’s what you want as a PR person. Go ahead, do the promo appearances. Use the media….but don’t forget the biggest built-in publicity tool you’ve got. The FANS. Movies and TV are doing it with great success, using announcements similar to Marvel, events like comic-con and others…isn’t it time the music industry caught up?

-R

 

 

Kingdom by Charli XCX (feat. Simon LeBon) out November 17!

The big news for this week: those anxious to hear Simon LeBon again (and I’m assuming that counts all Duranies) will get their chance again soon. Simon is featured on a song by Charli XCX that will be on the upcoming soundtrack for the movie, Mockingjay Part One. (Part of the Hunger Games series).

Lorde curated the soundtrack for the movie, putting together a compilation of songs with her own special stamp. She directly communicated with the artists chosen, such as Grace Jones, Miguel, The Chemical Brothers, and of course our own frontman.  Another name from the track list jumps out at me, as Bat For Lashes was at one time under the Manimal label (see the interview with the man behind Manimal Vinyl, Paul Beahan!).  It would appear that Simon is among good company, and provides an excellent chance to expose new audience to not only Simon, but also Duran Duran.

Track listing:

1) Stromae: “Meltdown” [ft. Lorde, Pusha T, Q-Tip, Haim]
2) Chvrches: “Dead Air”
3) Tove Lo: “Scream My Name”
4) Charli XCX: “Kingdom” [ft. Simon Le Bon]
5) Various Artists: “Track 5”
6) Raury: “Lost Souls”
7) Lorde: “Yellow Flicker Beat”
8) Tinashé: “The Leap”
9) Bat for Lashes: “Plan the Escape”
10) Grace Jones: “Original Beast”
11) Lorde: “Flicker” (Kanye West Rework)
12) XOV: “Animal”
13) The Chemical Brothers: “This Is Not a Game” [ft. Miguel]
14) Lorde: “Ladder Song”

I cannot tell a lie, I can hardly wait until November 17 so that we can hear the song and review it for the blog.  New music…two beautiful words to type this week.

-R

 

 

 

 

Faith in This Colour – The Daily Duranie Review

It has been a ridiculously long time since we did a review of a Duran Duran song!  In fact, February marked the last review we did. At that time, we finished up the album tracks off Seven and the Ragged Tiger with the Seventh Stranger. Yet, we still did not review the b-sides from that album/time period. Thus, we will start up our reviews with the b-side of Is There Something I Should Know, which is Faith in This Colour. While we realize that Is There Something I Should Know was not on Seven and the Ragged Tiger, it was released in 1983, right before the album was released.

Rhonda’s review:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  It has been a very long time since we’ve done these reviews and I’m completely out of practice! We are reviewing the regular version of this song found on the B-side to ITSISK, not the “slow” version, the “alternate slow version” or the “monster mix”. I do appreciate this particular piece of music – and it’s unmistakably Duran Duran. I don’t hear an awful lot of bass, although I pick up on guitar, synths and drums, but it’s definitely their style. I like the various sound effects they used (did you know that on some of the 7″ pressings there are unauthorized sound samples from Star Wars that were immediately removed when copyright issues were raised?), and while this is not necessarily a song that you can easily dance to on it’s own – it is perfect background music, and I’ve heard this mixed with other music for clubs. For 1983, I think the song is really before it’s time, proving once again that this band is nothing if not innovative.

Overall (including production): Produced brilliantly by Ian Little, I can find very little to complain about here, with the notable exception that I have trouble hearing bass – and I think that having more bass in the mix would have supported the entire song a bit more and given it a true “bottom” to the sound. Then again, I suppose that leaving bass way deep (if at all) in the mix was a way of creating a “spacey” sound. I also enjoy that there are a few different versions of this song out there, but it is this one that I think I appreciate most. It is not necessarily a favorite song of mine – but it is one of the songs that I most associate with this period of time (1983) and yet it doesn’t feel all that dated to me. Can’t go wrong with that!

Cocktail Rating:  3.5 Cocktails!

3.5 martini glasses

Amanda’s review:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  When I think of this song, I think about the part with the keyboard pattern that seems to repeat itself over and over. In fact, that part is so dominant in my mind that I really had to listen to the song to “hear” it all. I think this is a hallmark of Duran music–to have a part that is so strong, so compelling that it stays with you after LONG (forever!) after you have listened to it.  As a kid, so many of their choruses would stick with me, for instance. Now, as an adult, I find myself drawn to parts like that keyboard part I referenced. Despite my focus on that part, there is so much more going on in this song. While as Rhonda mentioned that there isn’t a lot of bass, the other instruments seem present but definitely take the backseat to all of the keyboards and extra sounds. I didn’t remember all of them, that’s for sure, until I really took the time to listen. I think that is the thing about this one.  It can easily be used as background material and overlooked. Yet, there is so much going on for an instrumental. For example, there is a bridge towards the end that if I didn’t know better, I would assume it to be a long lead out, but isn’t. It is a very interesting piece of music.  All of the layers and additional sounds put it in the Seven and the Ragged Tiger era, for sure.

Overall (including production):  When I think of the production of this song, I can’t help but to think about those extras. There are so many. I can just envision Nick in the studio with Ian Little in the wee hours of the morning working on this one.  As a b-side, I have to wonder if the plan was for it to be an instrumental or not. I also have to wonder if all of the band members spent an equal amount of time on it. I especially wonder that after learning about how quickly Secret Oktober was done and how it was mostly Nick and Simon.  Could this be a similar deal? Was this a mostly Nick deal? I don’t know but it seems possible with the lack of focus on other instrumentation. I could be frustrated by that, but, in this case, it all seems to fit together nicely. I love how the song feels simple on the surface but is actually much more complex when paying attention.

Cocktail Rating:   3.5 cocktails!  38ef3-3halfglasses

Dream Teams, Unstaged.

Big announcement today in Duranland!  If you wanted the chance to see David Lynch’s Unstaged on a big screen – here is your opportunity!  On September 10, for “One Night Only”** you can see Unstaged in the US on a theater near you!  While it might not be the same as a live show, it’s about as close as we’re going to get for a while…and for those of us who are STARVING for a show…we’ll grab at the tickets as though they were a lifeline!

Theatrical-Poster_Duran-Duran_Final.jpeg-207x300

Reactions to this announcement have been rather mixed throughout the community (as they always are).  I’ve seen everything from people excitedly posting that they will scream and dance in the aisles with friends to those who seem to think that having the screening just once, in NYC, was enough (I might say that is an incredibly selfish comment). I hope that the rest of the world gets the opportunity to see Unstaged on a big screen…although I know the process for making that happen can be rather daunting.

For tickets to Unstaged, click here

**interestingly enough, in some areas, you can also catch Unstaged on September 14. I don’t know why this is, but I’m not complaining!

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About those dream teams…

We’ve been seeing all sorts of photos with Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson and the band, but there’s another dream team in town this week! Anna Ross is working on her own solo album, and this past week she’s been in the studio with Dom, and they sent out their OWN dream team photo on Facebook today:

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photo Facebook/Anna Ross

Looking forward to hearing what they’ve been working on!  

Lastly, Amanda and I have been doing a little work of our own this past week, which included (but by no means was limited to) editing our entire manuscript…all 260+ pages. We edited for grammar and content, and then worked on our sources, which was a sorry mess due to our lack of attention.(which will NEVER, EVER happen again…)  We have a plan going forward, things we want to focus on, and projects that we want to start.  I also want to move my family to Madison…so there’s also that.  

ARmanuscript
photo Amanda Pustz

I’m still trying to get myself back together here at home after being gone for a week…and I had quite the adventure getting home in between a monsoon that hit Phoenix which delayed our stopover there, and the crazy imposed 11pm landing curfew at my home airport (John Wayne). Eventually, the plane made it here though, and now it’s back to reality.  Yay?!?

-R

Today in Duran History – Violence of Summer

On today’s date in 1990, Duran Duran celebrated the US release of the single Violence of Summer off of their Liberty album.

I realize that for many fans, Violence of Summer might not be a favorite, but to me – it’s the perfect track to sing along with as you’re driving home late at night from say, The Key Club in Hollywood.  It’s a happy, upbeat tune, and keeps you awake.  What more could you want?!?

Before I slip this blog post into an all-out review…here’s the video.  Enjoy!!

-R

What do YOU want in a Duran Duran album?

Like many, I sat down this weekend and watched the Mazda “Road to Fashion Rocks” videos featuring Duran Duran. First of all, can I just say how nice it was to be watching promo for them again?!? Damn I’ve missed that. It’s good to see them, to hear them, and to even hear them talk about the music they’ve been working on.

During one of the videos, John Taylor made the comment that the new album – I’m still hash tagging it #DD14 until they figure out how to spell the title and send it on to the rest of us – is “everything you’d ever want in a Duran Duran album”. As soon as he said the words, I gave it some thought. What IS it I want out of a Duran Duran album?  I mean sure, I could go for the obvious – I could mention specific band members, instruments, etc…but I’m not sure that fully answers the question. It isn’t specifically a band member that makes an album better than others, and it certainly isn’t a specific style. So what is it that I most want? As you might have guessed, I made a list! As I thought about what I might want, I realized that my list was starting to look more and more like the structure of the reviews we do for Daily Duranie. I doubt that’s merely coincidence! As much as the band talks about music that has a beat or is something people can dance to – I find those things not being AS important to me as what I’ve listed below. I don’t expect others to agree. After all, we’re very different people – so come up with your own list and let me know what you’re thinking.

1. Balance:  I like a balance between the instruments, and yes, I prefer them to be real. Real bass, real guitar, real drums, and of course real keyboards. Simon is a plus, too. I think their best albums happen when no one player/band member outshines another. I want to be able to hear all of them – a fantastic guitar, that driving rhythm section, a really amazing bass line…but I also want Nick’s atmospheric keyboards, too.  Simon’s harmonies are also very important, I prefer his voice to have depth – I love hearing the full range of his vocal abilities.

2. Production: I really tend to rope mixing into this section, which is probably not technically correct – but I don’t care. I really do love their music as “raw” as possible. I don’t love the slick gloss they put on the music for Astronaut or even for SATRT for that matter.  AYNIN had a fairly decent mix, and for me – I like those rough edges.  I think that’s why I like them live so much.
3. Lyrics:  (This is starting to feel very much like a review…) For me, the lyrics are really important. I can’t tell you how much I dearly love Before The Rain – and that was a song that I didn’t immediately grab onto when AYNIN first came out. I sat with it for months, I saw them perform it in shows….and THEN I learned to love it. Now it’s one of my all-time favorites from them. I love the lyrics that I can wade through, ponder, chew up and fully digest. There’s just no way to know when those songs are going to come though – I think they just have to keep writing, and some music just hits some people more than others. It’s all great, it’s just that maybe there’s something out there for everyone. I don’t know.
4. Innovation: One thing I’ve always appreciated from Duran Duran is their innovation, whether it’s with the artwork they’ve chosen to incorporate, the way they’ve marketed an album, or perhaps some sort of new instrumentation used.
5. Mostly, I want to hear music that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. When I listen to certain songs off of AYNIN, it still happens. I crave that reaction. Their very best music tends to transport me far away from home, to a place I’ve reserved in my head for just that type of escape. I love that ride, and it isn’t every album that takes me on that journey.
Your turn, Duranies – what do you really want?
-R

I heard you speak my name

I’m sure at least some noticed an invitation appearing on Monday morning from none other than John Taylor. He asked Duranies to join him at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood on Tuesday night, where Halo Circus was to appear and perform.

Halo Circus is a band fronted by Alison Iraheta, their label is a subsidiary of Manimal Vinyl called Badlands Records. As you might already know from reading previous blogs – Halo Circus’ version of “Do You Believe In Shame” is included on the upcoming Making Patterns Rhyme tribute album. They also have another single, “Gone” that is worth checking out.

When John issued the invitation, I was curious as to how many Duranies might show that night. From my own observations it didn’t seem as though the “Do You Believe in Shame” cover went over well with many Duran fans, and so it was tough to gauge interest. That said, John Taylor seemed to indicate that he would be there that night, and I figured that many fans might make plans to go solely for that reason.

I was not able to be there myself, but I heard from many that John was in fact there, and I’ve seen several photos of the evening…but what I was most excited by was a video posted of Halo Circus performing “Do You Believe in Shame”. Personally I loved the album version of the cover. Alison’s voice speaks to me, telling me a completely different story of that song than I’d ever heard before.  It hits me in my soul – and while yes, the original is the original, this long time Duran Duran fan actually PREFERS this cover. Halo Circus gave new life and meaning to this song for me, breathing a sense of urgency, pain and desperation that strikes me right in the gut. I love it. My question was whether or not I’d feel that same intensity in a live performance, so I was delighted to find video of this song on YouTube. Check it out!

This one song exceeded my expectations for the entire night…and you can bet that the next time they play, I won’t miss the show…John Taylor or not!

-R

 

Going on together, many journeys to arrive

I think it’s time I start writing real blogs again, don’t you?

Today marks “Work day one” of being back from vacation. It was a nice trip  – we just went camping, which I realize to many of you probably sounds like a death sentence, but we have a trailer, and honestly if you want to get away – it’s a good way to do it unless you have the resources to fly away to an island away from people.  We drove to Morro Bay, which is about an hour south of Big Sur, CA  for a few days, and then up north of San Francisco.  Our trip included visits to some universities because our oldest daughter – Heather, has just begun her applications to college. We even took a tour of the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, California. (Oh yes, we can be tourists like the best of them!) It was a fun trip, and perhaps one of the last we’ll take as a whole family given that next year, Heather will likely be packing up for school unless she decides to go somewhere close to home.  Hard to believe. but I have an entire year to bore you on that subject!

I am thrilled to see that news is finally starting to trickle on a semi-regular basis from the band. It feels like we might be coming out of a very long drought, and it’s nice to feel like I might be able to start really blogging again with purpose.  I know Amanda feels the same.

Daily Duranie has been a place to convene and discuss, and this is something I value about what we’ve created. It stands to reason that during a time where there was little to talk about, the blog quieted, and I’m sure it’s been noted that our posts in recent months were little more than expanded “Day in Duran History” posts.  We simply felt that while we were waiting for new news, it was time to take a bit of a hiatus rather than force words where there were likely none to be found.

In my attempts to reacquaint myself with reality, I finally listened to Simon’s Katy Kafé from last week. It was nice to hear that things are finally moving towards an end in recording – I’m excited to hear what they’ve worked on. One thing that I’ve really missed since the mass exodus of message boards is having a place to really talk about the music and what might be coming out of that studio.

There seem to be two types of people in this world: those that will speculate, and those that prefer to say, read or think nothing until they hear. I am likely to be found in that first group, much to the chagrin of the band, I’m sure. When I listened to the Kafe, I couldn’t help but notice Simon’s unwillingness to really say what the album sounds like – and I can’t really blame him. As much as I’d like to have something to chew on and think about while we wait, I haven’t forgotten some of the speculation in the past.

Let’s take Red Carpet Massacre, for example. I remember the endless flow of news we were getting from the studio. They were working with Timbaland, they were working with Timberlake, Nick said they were in grooooveland…(I still smile at that one), there was even a rumor at one point that they were working with Kanye. It seemed that with each video or news byte, there was more and more groaning from fans. In a lot of ways, I think I had my mind made up about the album before I heard it. I felt like I knew what it was going to sound like…I feared it. I don’t think that speculation from the fans, including myself, helped.

On the other hand, what about All You Need is Now? We knew they had been working with Mark Ronson, and based on things that Mark had said in interviews – he made it clear that he wanted to do a follow up to Rio. I panned that comment, months before the album ever dropped, because I felt that was setting the bar incredibly high. Did we really hold Rio to be the pinnacle of the band’s career? I think many fans and the public probably do…and I’m still hoping that the best is yet to come. Even so, I couldn’t help but wonder what the album would sound like, and even the thought of trying to make a return to the musical space that I still feel the band owns made me excited for the outcome, but still apprehensive. I didn’t want to be disappointed. Instead, that album quickly took hold of my heart and still gets regular play in my car. I wasn’t wrong to wait for them.

So here we sit, waiting for the album we’re still hash tagging #DD14. It has a yet-to-be-shared, five-syllable title that doesn’t have a spelling but somehow describes where they are musically (I am terrible at these sorts of Jeopardy questions!), and Simon says that ONE aspect of the record is that it is “club” sounding, and it’s definitely a departure from All You Need is Now, which was much more 80s sounding. I won’t lie, I’m wondering if I’ll like it, and I think many other fans feel the same.

Mr. Hudson had a “massive” influence on them. Mr. Hudson is pretty modern sounding in his own right – but even so, on some of his songs I still hear the influence of the music I grew up with. I hold hope that he helped the band remain true to themselves and not try to be something they clearly are not. Club music can be a lot of different sounds. Will it be like Red Carpet Massacre, which has been described as “urban club-music” or maybe more like Notorious? Will I like it? Will I love it as much as I loved All You Need is Now? Will I find a renewed sense of fandom in the music as I have in the past? I have no idea, and I’m certainly not making any claims to know more than any other fan.

I don’t have an inkling as to what we’ll eventually hear. I only know that once again, we sit at what I like to think of as the “entrance” to a new period of Duran music….waiting for the gates to open so that we can flood in, and even at the age of 43, probably 44 by the time the album drops, I’m still nervous-excited. There’s something to be said for a band that can still make me feel that way.

-R

Last minute weekend double delight – Girls On Film (Soko) & Late Bar (Barbarians) Making Patterns Rhyme Tribute Album

Taking a break from vacation unpacking and laundry (yes, I’m back!!) to listen to the newest sneak peaks from the upcoming Making Patterns Rhyme album (August 2014).

Up first is Soko’s version of Girls on Film. According to Paul Beahan (Manimal), this version is “downbeat and goth-y”.  I definitely get that “slightly The Cure” flavor from the very beginning, and I have to admit – the song is quickly growing on me.  I like the subdued nature of the melody – it’s not quite as frenetic as the original, and my feet definitely start finding the beat during the chorus.  My ears are happy.  It’s different, but recognizable.  I think this is liable to become one of my favorites off of the album.

Love for Girls on Film aside, I will openly admit I’m having a lot more trouble with Barbarian’s Late Bar.  Here’s the real deal: the song is one of my all time favorites from the band, and I really love that the original is dark and obscure.  It’s tough to hear it done more upbeat…and up to date.  That said, even here, I can find things I really like, such as the middle 8 (between verses).  I think the one attribute I like least is that they’ve changed the rhythm of the song. It may grow on me, but right now I just want to grab the drumsticks out of the hands of the drummer, take the microphone away…and teach them how it should be done. I’m starting to sound like an old woman yelling at the kids to stop playing ball on my lawn, which is never good. I don’t want to completely pan the work, because let’s face it – this probably has far more to do with what I’m used to as a fan than it does the song. I’m curious to hear what others think.

This is the last day to take a listen…so hurry and check it out, then shoot me a comment with your thoughts!

Back to unpacking for me….

-R