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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

 

 

 

 

Steppin’ Out with Paper Gods

In preparation for tomorrow’s release of Paper Gods, we decided to offer our own quick “shot” in summation for each song.  Rest assured that at some point not far in the future, we will write full Daily Duranie song reviews with cocktail ratings to match, but until then, enjoy our Daily Duranie “Happy Hour”, and have some shots on us!

Paper Gods

Rhonda:

I tried to prepare myself for what Paper Gods could possibly sound like, and even then – I couldn’t have been farther off. I’m still stumbling over myself to try to fully absorb this song, but one thing is sure: these lyrics have the depth and emotion I’ve been craving. 

Amanda:

This song is one of three songs that we did a video review for when it first was made available.  My thoughts about it haven’t really changed.  I appreciate that this song is like the anti-single, the anti-radio focused track as it doesn’t follow much when it comes to standard radio friendly tracks.  It is long, has frequent changes and just seems unpredictable.  I like all that and I like that they just embraced the art, for art sake on this one, and added a social commentary on top of that.

Last Night in the City

Rhonda:

If there were ever a party song…or a to fully describe a road trip with Amanda & Rhonda…this is it. I know plenty of people have a love/hate relationship with EDM, and I’ve got to be honest…I just don’t care. It took me more than one listen to get into this song, but once I finally stopped trying to cram Duran Duran into the “box” that held them in the 80’s,  I couldn’t stop myself from wiggling in my chair or bobbing my head as I listened. That’s all that matters.

Amanda:

I’ll be completely honest with this song.  When I first heard it, I told Rhonda that it reminded me of a bad, meat market type club that I would never want to go to.  It didn’t sound or feel like Duran, initially, to me.  It is very electronic and I missed the feel of organic instrumentation.  Then, at the same time, Rhonda and I realized that the lyrics describe what it is like for us when we are on tour.  It is that complete focus on having fun and connecting.  The female vocals just makes me connect to the song even more.  Now, I still think the song is very different from what I think of when I think Duran but it is super fun and has become a favorite on the album.

You Kill Me With Silence

Rhonda:

So, we did already do a video review of this song, which were our first impressions. I had difficulty with the chorus/verse changes and felt it really watered down the song. That said, I must admit this one is slowly growing on me. On one hand, it’s like Simon LeBon lives in my head and I thank him for putting my feelings into words. On the other hand, this song has just enough darkness for me to make it interesting. Who doesn’t love that Nick Rhodes solo at the end? Come on now!

Amanda:

Again, this is one of the songs that we reviewed earlier in video format.  Like Paper Gods, my feelings about it haven’t changed that much.  One change is that I might not be as critical of the chorus now that I have gotten more used to it.  That said, I’m still struggle a little. Perhaps, the subject matter is partly to blame for that.  I have a hard time really loving a song with the focus of emotional abuse in relationships. 

Pressure Off

Rhonda:

I’m always amazed by the responses out there in the fan community. To me, this is the easiest song on the album to fall in love with, and I still say this has the strongest hook I’ve heard in a Duran Duran song since the 80’s. To others, “this is like listening to Simon sing High School Musical.”   If the band wanted me to dance, this was the way to do it! The one thing that has changed for me since I first heard is that it sounds nothing like the rest of the album, and as a result it is (still) a standout! 

Amanda:

In many ways, now that I have heard the album as a whole, this song doesn’t match the feel of much of the rest.  That said, it is still a favorite.  To me, the instrumentation feels very Duran and the lyrics are just fun.  I know that some have criticized all of the “oh”s in the chorus but that even feels Duran-like (Hungry Like the Wolf, anyone??).  This is one that I’m very much looking forward to hearing live!

Face For Today

Rhonda:

Maybe I lied about Pressure Off being the easiest song to love on this album… The truth is, I really like this song too. It’s very “Duran Duran”, complete with the stacked harmonies and soaring chorus…I just wish (and this goes for the entire album) that they’d create more of a balance with their instrumentation. There, I said it. Done.

Amanda:

I enjoyed this one as soon as I heard it as it is easy to like. Right away, I found the lyrics swimming around in my head as I tried to figure out what the heck it is about. Quickly, I began to feel that this was the band giving advice and well wishes to those young and super popular bands now. This added some depth to the song.

Danceophobia

Rhonda:

The tune is slightly catchy while the lyrics are very elementary. The addition of Lindsay Lohan does absolutely nothing to add to the song particularly when it’s clear she is having difficulty not laughing while “singing” the last portion of the song after her dreadful spoken part.  On the upside, it does add something to the album that magazine editors and trash TV “celeb” news shows LOVE to dish on. Cringe-worthy at best.

Amanda:

It seems to me with many of these tracks I had strong reactions as soon as I heard them.  For some, it was an instant like and others I had to hope that the song would grow on me.  It did for Last Night in the City but…I am not as successful with this one.  I start to get passed the silly lyrics and non-Duran music then Lohan comes in.  I just don’t think her part works.  Is she supposed to be taken seriously?  Is it supposed to be funny?  Sexy?  I just don’t get it.

What Are the Chances

Rhonda:

I fell in love with this song as soon as I heard it. As I said on Twitter, there’s only ONE thing wrong with this song, and it’s that Dom Brown isn’t playing the lead guitar part. I don’t know if I’ll ever quite forgive them. That said, I’m pretty sure I’ll forget all about this small oversight should they play this live with Dom playing the part that should have been his to begin with.  PS – These lyrics? Really??? Beautifully done.

Amanda:

This isn’t my usual song to gravitate towards.  I am much more of an up tempo, rocking out sort of person.  I have gotten bored over many of the more ballad type songs in Duran’s catalog over the years.  Yet, this isn’t really that.  It does have a “bigger than normal” sort of feel like an Ordinary World has with some really great lines in the lyrics that will keep me interested for years to come.

Sunset Garage

Rhonda:

When someone is able to tell me what a Sunset Garage is, I will be much better able to talk about this song. Until then, I’m still struck by how “not” Duran Duran this song really is…and how much I enjoy it, even though I still see the Brady Bunch “Silver Platter” episode in my head as it plays. Definitely a tune for a summer night taking a drive along the coast. Gonna keep on, keep on…. (if you don’t get the reference, click here)

Amanda:

This is a song that simply had not hit me.  It isn’t one that has created strong emotion in me, either super positive or super negative.  The song has left me more puzzled than anything else.  I don’t understand the message.  I will be interested to see if this one grows on me after time.

Change the Skyline

Rhonda:

From the first sounds of the synth intro, I think it’s pretty clear this isn’t your average Duran Duran tune. I can’t help but think about how this song might have sounded with Brandon Flowers…but Jonas Bjerre does a good job. This is a song that I’m still trying to hash out and find a comfy spot, but there’s a lot going on here to like. 

Amanda:

This is the one track that got lost when listening to the album.  I’m not sure why with that chorus.  At first, I wasn’t sure about having Jonas Bjerre on this track.  Yet, his vocals and the song is starting to grow on me.  I’m starting to pay more and more attention to it, which is leading to greater appreciation.  It is one that I’m anxious to take the time to really read and digest the lyrics. 

Butterfly Girl

Rhonda:

The best part of this song for me is that Anna Ross is featured, and I love her. She brings an energy that this song was crying for, and I can hardly wait to hear them play this song live. Oh yes, the guitar. It’s good even if it’s not Dom (but he is going to blow the audience away with this live)…and there’s only one kind of happy in a glass of wine. (we all learn something from Duran Duran, don’t we?)

Amanda:

This is one of my favorite tracks on the album.  Like Last Night in the City, I love the additional female vocal (Go Anna!) and I usually don’t go for female vocals.  Musically, the song grabs me but more than that is the picture of this girl that is created.  She seems so specific and, yet, so universal.  I think many people can relate.  Goodness knows that I certainly do.  What more can you ask for?

Only In Dreams

Rhonda:

This song starts off reminding me of Before the Rain, and then very quickly turns into this gorgeous dream-like scene. Definitely a favorite of mine on the album. Simon sings like it’s a lullaby (and I really want to know who is on backup vocals…), and I love the calm that comes over me until the funk hits after the intro. Then I’m completely in it for the long haul. Vampires, limousines, reminds me of some elements of fandom…and no, I don’t want to wake up. 

Amanda:

Like the previous song, this is another favorite.  I love the opening which reminds me of Before the Rain.  Of course, it quickly changes to something else completely different.  Then, there are more changes as the song moves further along.  I love all of the changes.  Even more importantly than that, I love the lyrics.  There are so many great lines in this one and as a whole it really feels like Simon is describing fandom.  With good times in fandom, it is like being in a dream that you don’t want to wake up from!

The Universe Alone

Rhonda:

Here’s the thing: this song is pure Duran Duran genius from start to finish. It is also the darkest and deepest song on the album. I listen and get this scary sense of foreboding that makes the hair on my neck stand up and my emotions run way high every time I listen. I’d forgotten that Duran Duran can write like this – appealing to the modern sound they strive for,  with some of the deepest writing (both music and lyrics) I’ve heard them do in decades. Well done, Duran Duran, you’ve managed to make me extremely uncomfortable (as all art should!) AND love the song at the same time. Thumbs way, way, up.  

Amanda:

The first and only word that comes to mind when I hear this song is haunting.  It feels like goodbye.  I don’t know if it is the end of the world type goodbye or individuals leaving a huge chapter in their lives but it definitely feels like closure of some sort.  The first line really sets the tone about how there can be beauty within dying.  That said, it isn’t an easy song to want to listen to because it creates so many uncomfortable feelings in me.  Despite that, I adore the ending with the distortion followed by the beautiful chorus.

 

We can’t wait to read your own thoughts as you listen to the album yourselves. It took both of us some time to adjust to the new sounds and feelings, and as you can see – we’re still adjusting, but we welcome the challenge. We also congratulate the band and look forward to seeing them LIVE in the coming weeks!!

-A&R

Countdown to Paper Gods – ONE!!!!!

It is like freaking Christmas EVE (if you’re into that sort of thing) on social media right now. Duranies are excitedly posting about everything from events their local record stores are having in honor of the album to sad emails they’ve received from Amazon, Target and even Warner Bros letting them know that their album – which has been slated to come out tomorrow for MONTHS now – won’t actually be arriving until at least late next week. (I’m just gonna say it: this is not impressive work on the behalf of whomever was in charge of their distribution.)  My advice? iTunes. Google Play. At least you’ll get the album tomorrow, and then your physical copy will come later. Then there’s the band, who sneakily posted a video…that was just shot what, a week ago??… online this morning.

So, if you don’t have anything to do but sit, twiddle your thumbs and wait…I have some plans for you today…in no particular order.

  • Go watch Duran Duran’s video for Pressure Off. Watch it an extra time for me, because as you read this, I am with my kids at their school for orientation. I’m probably weeping a little, but it’s cleverly hidden behind my sunglasses. I hear the video was shot with YouTube’s 360 video in mind.  Ok, now I’m sobbing. This could be embarrassing until I get home and watch it .
  • Send Daily Duranie messages on Facebook and Twitter taunting us with how amazing it is. Oh wait, some of you are already doing that!!  (Amanda is at work too, so there is no video watching. At least not yet….)  Seriously though, how is that video?!?
  • Make plans to attend the online DAILY DURANIE BIRTHDAY PARTY on Sunday!! We’re turning five!! Can you believe it?? We really can’t. We plan to drown our sorrows…I mean CELEBRATE…on Sunday with an online video party (yes, another one) with OUR favorite videos from 2-7pm PDT or 5-10pm EDT (Yes, these are US times, because we live in the US and because Amanda and I didn’t want to be celebrating at 9am. Sorry.) Even if you can’t join us in our merriment, we have a YouTube channel with a Daily Duranie Birthday playlist (not public yet, we’re still working on it!) that you can watch on your own time should you so choose.  Details will be made available on the event page that I am going to create a bit later today. You’re ALL invited and we hope to see you. If nothing else, you can laugh at Amanda and I as we taunt, laugh and poke fun at one another while under the influence. Cheers!
  • Lastly, who am I really kidding…I know many of you already have the album because you were lucky enough to have yours sent early. Give it another listen or ten and enjoy!!!

I just want to say congratulations to Duran Duran. Fourteen albums (and then some) is quite an accomplishment, and definitely not one that I could ever replicate. I know that I’ve spent the better part of three years chomping at the bit for new music, and I also know that for a great deal of that time, I’ve worried about what would eventually come and how it all might sound. I am not the only fan in that category…just probably one of the “louder” ones. In any case, I am proud to be a Duran Duran fan today. No, this album does not sound like any other album you’ve done, but yet it is still Duran Duran. I revel in the fact that the band I came to adore in early 1981 is still doing so much to put continued smiles on the faces of their fans. No, that’s not necessarily equal to chart success, or huge sales. I have to hope that somewhere, to someone…knowing that longtime fans are still there by your side…matters.

-R

Countdown to Paper Gods – TWO!

Two days. 48 hours. I could figure out the seconds but nobody needs me to do that. We have nearly arrived at what I wouldn’t call a destination, but rather, the next stopover on our journey. We are so close that we can see the welcome sign, and some of us – oh hell, nearly all of us – are running to get there.

I have no idea of what the future may hold, only that once again, we have come full circle. Although it has been nearly five years since the release of All You Need is Now, when I think back – I can still remember the first moments of listening to the album in full. I remember those feelings of anticipation mixed with nerves and excitement. I remember the hope, the joy, and the elation.  To this day, I still have All You Need is Now in my car stereo, and I still love it. For that matter, I love it more so now than in 2010. Songs have grown on me, and now I have memories to match most of the songs on the album. For me personally, those memories have made the album what it is to my heart.

All You Need is Now is a tough act to follow, at least in my mind. While no, it might not have been a “critically acclaimed” album or marched up the charts for a lengthy stay in the top ten, that never mattered (to me). Now we are at the same vantage point for Paper Gods. In nearly ever review I’ve seen, Paper Gods is the album to beat this year. Critics seem to really enjoy what they hear, which quite frankly blows my mind. This is Duran Duran, the band that those same critics have laughed at over the years, and now – this album, has suddenly been added to “album of the year” status. Well then. I don’t know how that happens.  Over the coming days and weeks we can begin to sort that out as fans – but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t curious as to how the album might do.

However, on this day, with a mere 48-hours to go, I leave you with another way to fill up some time AND support Duran Duran in the process.

Go Duran Shopping!

That’s right. Go to duranduran.com and buy yourself some of the new Paper Gods merchandise. Maybe take a spin on eBay and see what comes up. Preorder the album if you haven’t, there’s still time!  Plan your wardrobe for the upcoming shows.  Bask in the glory of being a Duran Duran fan… I sense the best is still yet to come.

-R

 

Duran Duran Streaming Paper Gods!

If you are one of those people who cannot wait until Friday for your own chance to listen to Paper Gods…Duran Duran have done something amazingly cool and have made Paper Gods available (public) for streaming.

Check it out at the link below:

Paper Gods Streaming via Pitchfork

And if you do take a listen, we’d love to read your thoughts! Send us a comment and let’s get the conversation started!

-R

 

Countdown to Paper Gods – THREE!!

We are seriously down to just 72 little hours to go before Paper Gods is released!! Can you deal with it?!?  (If you don’t know where that last line came from, your assignment for today includes listening to Liberty again.)

I’m getting fairly good at handing out homework and assignments, as today begins homeschool for my second grader, so now I’m teaching high school and elementary school. (Admittedly the high schooler is far more independent so planning for him isn’t that difficult!) However, since we are on this “homework” theme this week, I have some for all of you today as well! (Can You Deal With It aside…)

We have had five songs already released from Paper Gods, and I’m not seeing NEARLY enough about them on social media. So, let’s blitz all social media today and get them out there! Your task is to share each of the five songs.  Let’s get them trending!!!   If we want this album heard ’round the world…it’s gonna take all of us to make it happen, so get going!

Pressure Off

Paper Gods

You Kill Me With Silence

What are the Chances

Last Night in the City

 

Let’s get the music out there…share and encourage your friends and followers to pass it on!

-R

Cherry Ice Cream Smile: Paper Gods Album Cover

So how about that Paper Gods album cover?

For months now (actually it’s been YEARS…but we won’t bring that up again right now), I’ve wondered what they would do for a cover and a title. Would it be something artsy like All You Need is Now? Would it be a photo of the band? Would they use the black and gold or black and silver DD logo?  And what would they call this thing? I was starting to think they’d go with Pressure Off only because they hash tagged it everywhere; but my heart was with DD14 because, well…duh.  It’s what we’ve all called it since about September of 2013. Maybe it can be the treasured nickname, only used by friends and family.

Overthinking again. Right….anyway…

And…as is very indicative of my “relationship” and communicative abilities with this band, I was so, so wrong. In a lot of ways, I’m glad I couldn’t read their minds (actually, in MOST ways I’m glad I can’t read their minds). After all, when the day comes that I can pinpoint what they’re going to do, I will need to probably take a giant step back from the keyboard and find a new hobby. I mean, if there are no surprises, what is truly the point? In my point of view, some surprises can be good.

Admittedly, I am still trying to come to terms with the album cover, if not also the name. This is not meant as an insult, it’s that we’re all in that awkward phase where we’re introducing ourselves to someone (something) we’ve not really met yet. I’ll give a personal example and pray that my youngest never reads the blog. When I had my youngest, back in 2008 – we were pretty set on her first name. (That name came from a stuffed dog that my oldest owned, oddly enough…we are very careful to say that we didn’t name her after the dog of course, only that it gave us the idea!) Anyway, her middle name was tougher. We’ve named our kids after various family members, and I wanted to continue the tradition but I also wanted to give her the middle name of Marie (a name which belongs to no one in our family). Instead of doing so, I went with Renee, a middle name she shares with my sister. For the first few months, she didn’t look at all like her name to me. I was still getting used to her, finding her personality.  I would even occasionally slip and call her the name I’d originally chose rather than the one on her birth certificate. Now? I couldn’t imagine her having any other name. It fits perfectly.

I’m trying to remember back to All You Need is Now. Remember the cigarette burn on the cover?  I believe some of you out there even called it a sperm…isn’t that lovely? I’ve never seen so much criticism given to a cover of an album we’d yet to have heard. Funny, I hear nothing about that cover these days. We got used to it, and the album of course grew on most of us, too….and now we’ve moved on to Paper Gods.

Let me briefly comment on the name since I didn’t have a chance last week. I don’t even know when the news of the name hit – was it Friday? I didn’t really come up for air until Sunday afternoon, so the name doesn’t quite roll off my tongue (or my fingers) with ease just yet. I think the name is one of those things that will explain itself in time, and then I’ll wonder why I even thought twice about it…because that’s what albums are really supposed to do. If I had the chance to ask the band about this album, I’d ask them if they feel like it’s a complete “statement” in the same vein as albums back in our day were done (Ziggy Stardust comes to mind), or if it was put together the way so many are today, where they’re meant for quicker consumption. There’s no wrong answer there, albums are written so much differently today, thanks to iTunes and similar. People buy songs, not albums – so there isn’t as much of a motivation for a band to create an album that tells a whole story, or gives a statement. I’ve just been curious as to how they feel about it, especially now that it’s finished. In any case, as I ramble on here, I am hoping that once I really listen to the album, the name and it’s meaning will unfold in the very same way that all of their albums have done.  I think back to not just All You Need is Now (although perfectly named), but Red Carpet Massacre, Astronaut,  Pop Trash and even Medazzaland.  When you stand back and look at those albums as a whole – the meanings are clear and the names are perfect. I can’t wait to hash this one over.

Then there’s the cover, as I mentioned earlier. At some point over the last several days, I saw the new logo and the blurred background image. I love the logo by Brian Roettinger. I really do. I love the way the Duran kind of sits on top of and blends into the other Duran. I actually like the colors, too. I was able to make out the ice cream cone and even the telephone and tiger (actually at one point I had thought the cover looked similar to the one they did for the single of Perfect Day), and that’s when I realized that those images of the ice cream cone, telephone and tiger were meant to remind us of what came before. I dug that…because they were blurred. They were sort of enigmatic in their own way. We knew they were there, we knew what had come, but we weren’t meant to focus on them. The colors were complementary, they’ve had pinks and blues around them for as long as I can remember, and I like them.  At the time, I didn’t realize that the intention wasn’t for the cover to remain blurred.
duran-duran-paper-gods-cover

The cover was reveled just yesterday (I believe??), with the caveat that the artwork is not final (Warner store website). The images are no longer blurred, and they kind of look like stickers. Someone else said (very accurately) that they reminded him of Colorforms from back in, well…OUR day.

The cover artist is LA-based Alex Israel and was done as a collaboration with the band, overseen by China Chow. Alex’s work is very large scale and much of it might remind you of gorgeous soft sunsets across a blue sky, although he has a multitude of other work as well. What tickles me with a cover such as this, where it might be easy to discard it as just pop -whether pop art or pop culture or even pop music – Alex Israel puts those images right on a reproduction of one of his very fine art pieces. Those images are somewhat styled to look like stickers or Colorforms if you remember them, very much icons of pop culture, if you will. But, if you bother to look beyond the surface, you’ll also find real art.

If that doesn’t describe this band; well, you’re not looking hard enough. Yes, Duran Duran are a part of pop culture. Yes, they’ve been pin-ups and have not been taken seriously, very much like this cover is being taken by FANS right now, but if you look hard enough, if you really pay attention, you just might find something far more valuable underneath.  I think it’s genius, and I love that Duran Duran makes comment on the (supposed) paradox of their career in such a unique and subtle way.

I’ve seen many, many negative comments regarding the cover. There was even one or two comments suggesting that fans put together a sort of online petition so that the band reconsiders. Really?! Really??? First of all, the obvious: it is THEIR cover. The band can call the album whatever they want, put whatever they want on the cover, and the rest of us have to respect their choice. That’s the way this all works. This is the boundary between being a fan and being the band. It’s a slippery slope at times, and yes – there are moments when we have that sense of ownership, but this cannot be one of those times. We have not commissioned the band to go into the studio and make the album we want.  They wrote the music THEY wanted, created the package and message they wished to convey.  I’m as guilty as the next person, but enough is enough. Secondly, how about putting a little thought into the cover before condemnation?  Dig a little deeper and see what you might find.

Lastly…anyone ready to take some Pressure Off?!?  I sure am!  I can’t wait to hear that single!!!

-R

 

Happy Anniversary Katy! (with Simon!)

I really and truly don’t even know where to start with the highlights from this Kafe. If I could somehow put it all into a frame and hang it on my wall forever and ever, I would. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these Kafes – probably even more so than the regular ones. (sorry Katy, I mean it in the kindest possible way, I really do!!) I’ll get to why in a minute. I might be the only one out there that feels this way, but I don’t care.  I will also disclose here and now that I’ve never actually been in tears due to a Katy Kafe before, much less due something Simon has said…until now.

I’m going to assume it’s really NOT my hormones on overdrive this morning, although I won’t lie, it’s been quite a day so far. (I went to school with my youngest this morning for Muffins with Mom. I know this has nothing to do with Duran Duran but she is the sweetest kid in the entire universe and I am so lucky to call her my daughter. So there you go. Mom-tears.) Moving along…

To begin with, I don’t know that I ever truly realized just how close Katy and the band really are. Yes, I know they’ve worked together for a long time, but somehow I don’t think that always comes through in the Kafes or the work she does. But when you hear her speak with Simon, you can really feel the warmth between them. Sure, she’s lucky because she works with the band we’ve all been rather fond of since we were babies…I know that’s the way many feel and yeah, it’s a given but let’s get PAST that for a second.  She’s very lucky to have found a family within. I know a lot of people who worked for the same company nearly all of their lives and don’t have the same sort of relationships with their coworkers (or bosses!)…so there’s something to be said there for both Katy and those Duran Duran guys. 🙂 I think it was incredibly nice of Katy to include all of us in on her special time with the band, because really, she didn’t have to. She could have celebrated her anniversary with the band privately and never done a thing…and really, how many of us would have even taken a second to figure out how long she’s been with the band? I venture to guess not many because what she does for them is just taken for granted. We don’t think about how it all happens, we only know that we want and need what we want and need, and if it’s not perfect, we’re pissed. I’m super glad she shared, and that’s not me gushing, it’s me being honest and thankful.

There were a lot of little tidbits they shared (I for one cannot wait to hear the Simon “Alabama Slammer” story. I just hope she doesn’t wait 20 years to share!), such as the first time she met the band at the St. Regis and Simon chucked a water bottle across the room to her and she caught it, to which Simon announced that he liked her. I can envision that happening…and I can envision myself missing the bottle, too.

They talked about 9/11 and how the band was meeting with Miles Copeland at his house. They were apparently unaware of the planes hitting the WTC until they got there and Miles said that they couldn’t talk, and there they watched the second plane hit the building. Katy had emailed them, and Simon returned the email, telling Katy to “keep her wits about her”.  Truer words couldn’t have been said. Our world really did completely change that day, didn’t it? I don’t live in New York, I didn’t have family anywhere near there…but there are still many, many times when I feel like I don’t completely recognize the world these days. Sometimes not at all.

They also talked about Katy’s highlights, which she’s mentioned with each band member, and that brought them to talking about the new album. I appreciated this section the most, and believe it or not – it wasn’t the memories of 9/11 that brought me to tears. No, it was this part.  First of all, Katy says that it’s “a Duran Duran album, but it’s a fucking great Duran Duran album”.  Simon agrees, and then they start to explain that this isn’t an album just for the fans. As you might imagine, that sentence is unsettling to me. But I try to listen with an open mind, after all, sometimes what is communicated in words isn’t really what is meant. Simon continues by saying that what he means, is that this album is meant for MORE than just the fans. It has a much wider appeal than that. Now while it’s easy to get our ire up, wondering if the fans just aren’t “enough”…. I think we have to understand that this isn’t a band that just wants to sit back in a corner and not continue to grow.  They want to grow their appeal. That isn’t a bad thing, and although I haven’t heard a single (entire) song from this album yet, I can’t wait to be able to say I love it and continue to work very, very hard to keep this fandom going and growing. They really WANT fans to love the album, and then they want us to take to the rooftops and draw others in.

It’s in this moment that I look back on the time in between albums and it doesn’t feel quite so long, and sometimes I feel like Amanda and I get it completely wrong…but we’re on the right track.

Simon speaks directly to the fans in this Kafe, explaining that we’re as much a part of that band as they are (cue tears from me), and that he wants us to own this next album and get it out there.  Katy agrees, saying that the fans she interacts with already feel that way, that they have a tangible sense of ownership with Duran Duran. It’s true. There are so many out there that really DO have a positive sense of ownership regarding the band. It’s also a major double-edged sword at times. We think we know best. We really don’t because we only know what it is like to be fans. It’s a problem, but I suppose it’s a good problem to have. We just love the band – we’ve loved them so long that it’s difficult to separate them from us. My memories are entwined with their music and even with them as people. It’s messy, it’s lovely, and it’s FAMILY.

Katy talks to Simon about how he keeps up the facade that he’s got his head in the clouds, and yet she claims he doesn’t miss a thing. Ever.  I also noticed that when he talked about the line up of the band when Katy first met him – he referred to “Simon” in the 3rd person. This is all starting to make much more sense to me now…It’s funny because now that the word is out, I’m not so sure he’s gonna be able to keep up that act, but hey – I’ll play along. Thanks for not spitting on us in Biloxi, Simon….I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you for backing up instead of showering us…. 😀 and thanks for taking a picture with us in LA, too. You’re the one band member I never, ever thought I’d actually have a photo with, so it’s special.

What am I missing? Ah yes, they talked a teensy bit about shows this summer, and in doing so – Simon explains that this is the “Information age” and that information is valuable. Agreed. If he were to give out information about what things, especially “Big” things that might soon to be announced for the US (no pun intended!!), it would mess up the promotion, marketing, etc. (my apologies for paraphrasing) I’m not going to chastise him for not telling us when and where. I can’t. I get it. Things happen for a reason, and it’s not my job to ruin it for them. In fact, I think it’s the opposite, isn’t it?  So he announces the shows that have already been announced, and leaves us all hanging on the footnote that something big is coming for the US.

I can’t wait.

So while this was a celebration of Katy’s time with the band – it was also a little bit of a celebration for all of us. It takes all of us to keep this engine running and the wheels moving, and I hope we all take Simon’s words to heart (do yourself a favor and get your DDM membership so that you can listen to this Kafe yourself!) Once again, there is no way on this earth that I would want Katy’s job – I’m not that nice, definitely not that patient, and I really like writing anyway, but I’m awfully glad we have her around to “herd the cats” when necessary. Congratulations and a VERY happy anniversary (Happy Mothers Day too!) Katy!

-R

Duran Duran New Album Release – September?

It would appear that Duranies have until September before Duran Duran’s #DD14 drops and new music will be had by all.

Today on Twitter, the band’s official Twitter was asked by the Voce Chamber Choir (who recorded for the band on this upcoming album)  when the new Duran Duran album might be released, and DDHQ answered “September”.

Sources close to the band (Ok, I am totally lying – they are fans, but didn’t that sound good for a second?) say that while DDHQ mentioned the month…they did not, however, indicate the year.

Fair enough.  The band “formally” entered the studio in March of 2013 to begin work on writing and recording DD14, and this does in fact the longest stretch in between albums in the band’s career. (Someday, this album will even have a real name…unless they’ve just chosen to go with the obvious, well-known moniker we’ve been calling it since 2013!) According to prior Katy Kafe’s with all band members, the writing of this album has taken twists and turns, with more than a full album’s worth of material being put aside at one point to start anew. Then of course, there was that lovely Roger Taylor guy, trying to convince us all more than once that the album would be finished by the end of 2013…and then again he claimed it would be finished as of last year…and now we’re looking to September of 2015 for the finished product.  I think you might have been just a little bit off on your estimated finish for the album, Roger, but good effort in trying!

Thumbs up

In recent months, the band has announced several summer festival dates that you can find here, including one special gig for the Lynch Foundation charity where the band will literally fly all the way from England to do one song. One song for one show. That’s devotion and friendship, people. (Sarcasm you say? Why whatever could you mean??) We can only hope that these festival dates mean more will be showing up on the horizon.

As always, things may change, and no word has been given as to what label might be releasing the album. Label rumors have been abundant within the community, but have done little more than spark spirited debate as to where the band might settle. I do recall a previous Katy Kafe featuring John Taylor where he discussed that the band really wanted to consolidate their entire catalog on one label.  While no mention of that, or any other details have been given publicly, it will be very interesting in the coming months to see how it all shakes out.

So…September…but take heart, Duranies, the end of waiting is near! (I almost wrote “The End is Near”…but I think that might give the wrong impression…) If you’re in Europe this summer, you have the opportunity to catch them live. Me? Well, I can hardly wait for the approximately 4 and a half minutes they’ll be on stage next month in Los Angeles!  -R

 

 

Rio: The Duran Duran drought is over?

I’ve almost certainly lost my DD mojo at this point.

These are words I actually texted to a friend of mine on Saturday afternoon as we discussed going to see the greatest Duran Duran tribute band on this side of the Atlantic – Rio. They were playing at the Totally 80’s Bar in Fullerton California, which wasn’t far from my house.  I needed a night out, as did my husband. There has been a serious Duran Duran drought going on, and judging from responses I’ve seen over the past several months to whatever the band says, or even what happen to say on Twitter, it sounds like this is a full-fledged emergency.

Before I get into whom to blame for this tragedy (I think we all know exactly who is to blame here), let’s just talk about that evening. The truth of the matter, it’s been so long that I’ve been out, I feared I’d forgotten how to dress. I spend my luxurious, fun-filled days in jeans, a t-shirt and athletic trainers, running after a now five-month old puppy before he decides to use our house as his personal toilet among many other equally amazing “hobbies” I’ve acquired in the past four years. Dare I say I’ve become frumpy?!? I certainly feel that way every morning when I crawl out of bed, grabbing the first clothing items I can throw on, not even bothering with makeup or hair product. Instead of just being a Duranie-on-a (short) hiatus, I felt like I was becoming my mother, feeling every single second of my forty-four years on this planet. For a while, I even started to give in, waving my dishtowel as a white flag in defeat, sensing that it might be a while, perhaps even forever, before I went to another concert and screamed for the men onstage.

Yes, I had lost my DD mojo. Most definitely.  There is an intense Duran Duran drought going on here.

So that brings me to Saturday night. Immediately upon texting that I’d go to see Rio, I realized I had no idea of what to wear. Did I even still fit into my typical concert clothing? It had been months since I actually did a full make-up job or worried about my hair – could I still pull it off? Probably not. I pulled on my jeans, noting that I could still breathe (definitely an unexpected bonus), and then tried on a shirt. I shrugged it on, and then went to the mirror to see how bad it looked. I took a peek, and to my surprise – I started to recognize the reflection in the mirror. Yes, the girl was still in there, but what about the band…the real band? I hear we’ve got at least another six months of this Duran Duran drought ahead. Seriously, they expect us to hang on this long with virtually nothing?? No one needs remind me that they’ve done a few shows over the past year – but unless you were lucky to be able to attend one – which I was not, the rest of us are still living a California-sized Duran Duran drought.

We get to the club that night and sit down to grab a little pre-show dinner. If you haven’t been, the menu is filled with delights like the Breakfast Club burger (which has everything including an egg and hash browns on it) to Tater-Tots with toppings like poutine or nacho cheese sauce. They also have drinks that run the gamot of 80’s names. Yes, they even have a Duran Duran shot bomb. From memory it is black cherry vodka with some grenadine dropped into Red Bull.  I am certain this could kill me, so I go for the Richard Blade Rum Runner instead (still Duran themed, damn it!). I don’t even remember what is in this drink, but it was good. I want to say there was something raspberry in there with rum and maybe even some pineapple. Not sure. I just know I drank it and lived, even if my memory did not.

My friends arrive, we chat for a while at our table and then make our way to the front of the club to see the show. I’ve been to see Rio before – in fact I’ve done an interview with them here on the blog as well as reviewed a show, so being near the front wasn’t a requirement, but we made our way as close as possible – which ended up being directly to the side of some speakers. Yay for more early onset hearing loss! The show starts and the band is terrific as always. Honestly, as Tiger Tiger began, I could feel the Duran Duran drought ending for me in very much the same way I felt when California finally got some rain in December. Nourishment!! Relief!! I felt at home because let’s face it – Rio’s set list is vaguely familiar, with tunes like Planet Earth, Hungry Like the Wolf (oh you betcha!), Come Undone, Ordinary World…but they also played Is There Something I Should Know, New Moon on Monday (which sounded just a little off to me, but in fairness I was only getting part of the sound through the one set of speakers deafening me), and New Religion. A full-set of Duran Duran drought ending greatness. I can’t  complain about their show (and I wouldn’t anyway because as I’ve already said – this is the greatest DD Tribute band on this side of the pond, hands-down). For this Duranie, their set gave me a hint of DD mojo back.

However, just as I was starting to remember why it is I love the band, and yes, lately it has been difficult to remember why…I started remembering what I’d forgotten about concerts in general.

People are freaking NUTS.

We’d made our way up to nearly the front of the stage before the show started, not by pretending we knew someone or faking a leg injury, by just walking up to the front. After all, this wasn’t the band. I mean, it was Rio…but it wasn’t Duran Duran. Apparently though, management forgot to mention that small detail to many of the women (and a whole lot of the men!) in attendance. I witnessed behavior that night that I haven’t seen (well some of it I’ve never seen, but I’ll get to that in a bit) in a looonnnnngg time. From the woman who refused to give up on getting to the front no matter how many times the gentleman who stopped her from barging up there continued to put her off, to the presumable grandmother that elbowed me several times, leaving me with a nasty bruise on the backside of my arm to shove me out-of-the-way so that she could lock eyes with “Simon” Jake Jacobs, and the very, very drunk woman who used the stage as a way to prop her arms so that she could twerk for her man (I really wish I were joking about that one)…I was shocked. Pushing and shoving to get up front to see a tribute band? Climbing on to the stage to dance with the band members? Staking out front row spots to have a chance for Jake to grab your hand and sing to you?  Where in the hell was I???  I continued to utter the same words throughout the show: “You know this isn’t like, THE BAND…right?!?”  I can only imagine that the Duran Duran drought has caused this kind of madness.

Don’t get me wrong. Rio is fabulous. They are an outstanding band, and they have a great time doing what they do. They’re true musicians and I dare say rock stars in their own right. But they’re not Duran Duran. Unless of course you haven’t seen Duran Duran in what, three or four years. Then suddenly, this tribute band takes on a whole new meaning – they’re helping end the Duran Duran drought!! They’re the band that is standing incredibly well for the other band that can’t seem to be bothered at the moment. From what I saw that night, the crowd is more than happy to take what they’re eager to give. And then some.

The show had everything from a guy jumping up on stage to take a photo with the band – which was harmless enough, to a woman who helped herself to a free frontal feel on “Simon”. (Don’t even ask…although I wonder if the real Simon has been molested the way Jake was that night. I’m going to guess in the affirmative, even though Jake himself told me that in the twenty-something years he’s spent performing, it’s never happened before that night. Nice.) By all intents and purposes, this very-packed crowd genuinely believed it was the real deal on the stage that night, obviously to the credit of Rio. The tribute band really is that charismatic, and while I stood by mostly mortified on Saturday night, Rio tells me that I shouldn’t go around reminding people they’re not really Duran Duran. They love being the enablers for the fantasy, and the last thing they really need is someone like me screaming “Get off my lawn!” Fair enough.

However, facts are facts, and it has been just about three-and-a-half years since the band toured. It has been just over four years since All You Need is Now has been released. As of spring this year, this will be the very longest it’s EVER GONE between album releases – you want to talk about a Duran Duran drought?? Here we are, people! This is insane. Fans are restless. They need shows. They want new music. The tribute band Rio helps to pass the time, and I’m grateful that they play, but they aren’t Duran Duran in the same way that Simon, John, Nick, Roger AND Dom are Duran Duran (and also to their credit, Rio knows this). We’re not a bunch of teenagers anymore that can still be counted on to be there in five or ten years. Fans probably won’t still be there if the band continues to wait to tour or put out a single or do much of anything. At our age – time is a commodity we’re losing, like it or not. I very much respect John, Simon, Roger and Nick – but I very much disagree with the attitude they continue to expel at every opportunity that they don’t need to hurry or get themselves out there to continue the momentum that they have almost assuredly lost after all of this time. To that I must emphatically respond, “You don’t get it at all. You really and truly just do not get it, boys.”

I question what is really going on “behind the curtain” at times such as these. It is difficult to be a Duranie in this Duran Duran drought at the moment. On one hand, of course I want to be supportive. At the end of it all, I’m still a fan. Disgruntled? Perhaps. Bored? Certainly. But I still care. I want to say, “Take the time you need. We’ll wait!” On the other hand, I’m wondering if they really want to get out there at all. It’s been a long-ass time since All You Need is Now. You can’t even argue that it hasn’t. Why did they need so many big names on one album? Why haven’t they put out a single at this point if for no other reason than to put voices like mine with questions like the ones I’ve brought up here to rest? Why don’t they seem to care at all? Have they lost their minds???  Or, is their collective heart not really in the game anymore, and they don’t know how to SAY they’re done?  I think most fans, including myself, feel like this album might be the last for a least a very long while – and every single time I hear Nick say “Well, we’ll certainly play some shows”… my heart hears, “Well, we might play SOME shows…but probably not nearly as many as we did before” and it sinks. Each time John does a Katy Kafe and sounds like he’d much rather be plucking his nose-hairs, I feel it sink even farther. How does a fan stay optimistic during this Duran Duran drought?!?

Mostly, I’ve lost my DD mojo, and this Duran Duran drought feels never-ending. We all tell ourselves that we don’t mind waiting and that it’ll be worth it in the end because otherwise, we wouldn’t be fans. I’ve been doing that as much as anyone. It is the name of the fandom game – we’ll wait because the other choice is to walk away and not care. I also know that for as many people who will tell me they’ll wait forever for Simon and Co…there are still others who are nodding their heads as they read this, proud of my “bravery” in publicly saying what we’re all thinking. This blog isn’t managed or supported by the band. I am not required to adhere to party line talking points provided by a PR company. I write whatever I’m thinking or feeling on any given day and it’s 100% truthful, even if the concerns are unfounded when all said and done – and with that comes great freedom, if not also a little sadness.

The Duran Duran drought continues…

-R