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Depeche Mode Exciter'
Exciter (Awaiting Repress)From the beginning of their career Depeche Mode have been at the forefront of remix culture; creating their own classic extended mixes back in the early 80s and over the years amassing a collection of remixers of their songs that pretty much charts the history of cutting edge dance music.
It's rare to find bands capable of keeping their own best qualities to the fore while trying something new each time out, but Depeche Mode demonstrate that balance in full on the marvelous Exciter. Arguably the first album made by the group as a cohesive unit since Violator (and bearing some resemblance to that record in overall title and song names -- compare The Sweetest Condition with The Sweetest Perfection), Exciter finds the trio again balancing pop catchiness with experimental depths. As with Ultra, an outside producer helps focus the end results in new, intriguing directions -- in this case, said producer is Mark Bell, known for his work with Björk but also as part of Warp Records' flagship act LFO, which always acknowledged their own debut to Depeche. Bell's ear for minimal, crisp beats and quick, subtle arrangements and changes suit Martin Gore's songs beautifully. If there are few storming arena-shaking numbers this time out, the exquisite delicacy throughout is addicting, with Gore's guitar providing slippery and stinging leads to the smoky, romantic flow of Exciter. When the Body Speaks is a particular winner, his gentle work and a backing string section combining just right. David Gahan's voice, already audibly benefiting from lessons on Ultra, is even more supple and passionate than before, ranging from the fuller delivery on the snaky charm of Shine to the haunting album-closer, Goodnight Lovers, a romantic lullaby with perfect counterpoint backing vocals. Gore's own singing remains equally fine, as does his lyrical obsessions on, well, obsession -- Breathe, which quotes more Bible names per verse than most preachers, makes for a good example on both fronts. When the band fully crank it up, the results work there too -- The Dead of Night makes for a far superior nod to Gore's glam roots and Depeche's own industrial dance descendants than Songs of Faith and Devotion's Rush did.
- Ned Raggett1. Dream On
3. The Sweetest Condition
4. When The Body Speaks
5. The Dead of Night
9. I Feel Loved
11. Easy Tiger
12. I Am You
13. Goodnight Lovers$19.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Playing The AngelFrom the beginning of their career Depeche Mode have been at the forefront of remix culture; creating their own classic extended mixes back in the early 80s and over the years amassing a collection of remixers of their songs that pretty much charts the history of cutting edge dance music.
When Ultra was declared the best Depeche Mode album since Violator, those who said so must have forgotten about Songs of Faith and Devotion. When Exciter was declared the best Depeche Mode album since Violator, those who said so must have also forgotten about Songs of Faith and Devotion, in addition to having found a roundabout way of saying that it was merely better than Ultra. There's no doubt this time: Playing the Angel is both the band's best album since Violator and, more significantly, an album that is near Violator in stature. The biggest clue dropped by the band prior to its release was a quote from Dave Gahan, who said that being in Depeche Mode is better than it has been in 15 years. Some quick math reveals that Gahan was hinting at the Violator era, a time when the band's creativity and popularity peaked synchronously. It also turns out that this is a time as good as any other to be paying attention to the band. Playing the Angel lacks Songs of Faith and Devotion's end-to-end chest-beating, Ultra's grinding murk, and Exciter's desiccated patches. It takes the best qualities from those releases, combines them with a few subtle allusions to Violator -- tiptoeing the border that separates retread from reinvention -- and makes for a highly concentrated set of songs that all but demand to be heard in one uninterrupted shot. Gahan, still riding the confidence he gained as a songwriter from Paper Monsters, his 2003 solo debut, contributes three songs co-written with band associates Christian Eigner and Andrew Phillpott. Though none of them vie to be the album's centerpiece, it's apparent that the move wasn't a concession of desperation on anyone's part. The friendly competition seems to have kicked chief songwriter Martin Gore into high gear; he's in top form. Musically, a lot of analog gear was used, and it's apparent that the arrangements and extra sounds were less fussed over than they have been in the recent past. You get the sense that everything fell into place, as opposed to being forced or aimlessly manipulated. Despite the favoring of older gear, there's no other year in which any of the songs could've been made. Like the best Depeche Mode, almost everything on the album will make an initial wowing impact while remaining layered enough in subtle details to surprise and thrill with repeated listens. It is not the kind of album a 25-year-old band is supposed to make.
- Andy Kellman (All Music Guide)LP 1
1. A Pain That Im Used To
2. John The Revelator
3. Suffer Well
4. The Sinner In Me
7. I Want It All
8. Nothings Impossible
10. Damaged People
12. The Darkest Star$26.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
French TouchCarla Bruni returns with an exciting collection of some of rock music's most classic hits performed in her signature
softer, coffee house style. Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence", The Rolling Stones' "Miss You", and ABBA's "The
Winner Takes It All" appear on this new release, sure to enthuse both fans of Carla's as well as fans of rock staples
from the last 50 years.1. Enjoy The Silence
2. Jimmy Jazz
3. Love Letters
4. Miss You
5. The Winner Takes It All
7. Highway To Hell
8. Perfect Day
9. Stand By Your Man
10. Please Don't Kiss Me
11. Moon River$22.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Shackles GiftZun Zun Egui formed in Bristol in late 2008 - Mauritian guitarist and singer Kushal Gaya met and started making music with Japanese keyboard player Yoshino Shigihara after they had both moved to the UK and a core group of musicians soon formed around them. A love for experimentation, free jazz, fusion, DIY culture, throwing parties and playing wild shows was the glue that bonded the outfit together. After an early clutch of raw and experimental EPs, they focused their song-writing talents and mastery of many styles to create a recognisable Zun Zun Egui sound which included tropicalia, punk funk, Afrobeat, Ethio jazz and no wave. All of these varied disciplines were marshalled to produce their first album "Katang" which was widely hailed as one of the most exciting debuts of 2011. Even for a band as exploratory and talented as ZZE though, the step up in terms of songwriting and inspiration since "Katang" is astounding and it is clear that Shackles' Gift looks like being one of the most unique and thrilling records that will be released in 2015.
Produced by Andrew Hung of Fuck Buttons, "Shackles' Gift" is the album that Zun Zun Egui have always threatened to deliver and we always believed they would. Opening with 'Rigid Man', it hits the listener with bone-shaking tropical funk. Future single 'African Tree' strolls past on a marching band rhythm, complete with an arena-sized chorus and Kyuss-heavy stoner rock guitars. 'Ruby' is like imperial period Depeche Mode discovering the delights of industrial dancehall reggae, while 'I Want You To Know' is an absolute funk/noise rock monster, sounding like Steve Albini recording Queens Of The Stone Age jamming on 'Kashmir'. 'Soul Scratch' is a very British take on a very Mauritian form of music called seggae, which combines the African island folk music known as sega with reggae, but imbuing it with an adrenalised urban uptightness. The album concludes with 'City Thunder' an elemental, dubbed out and dread take on post rock and disco.
Frontman Kushal says that first and foremost "Shackles' Gift" is a British rock record made by a British group but admits that the first sparks of its creation started flying when ZZE visited Mauritius in March 2013. The African island nation, which lies 700 miles east of Madagascar, deep in the Indian Ocean, invited the band to give a concert as part of their Independence Day celebrations. The island's dynamic history has led to a multi-lingual, multi-cultural modern nation which has influenced Zun Zun Egui in more ways than one. Not only has Mauritian music been one of the (many) primary ingredients of their sound and inspired Kushal's multi-lingual approach to singing (the island has 12 main languages) but the diversity of the country acts as a metaphor for the diversity of the group itself.1. Rigid Man
2. African Tree
4. I Want You To Know
5. Soul Scratch
6. Tickle The Line
7. The Sweetest Part Of Life
8. Late Bloomer
9. City Thunder$22.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Vessel Of Love (Awaiting Repress)Hollie Cook combines her unique vocal talent with charming charisma to craft her own dynamic strand of lovers rock with enduring tropical vibes, weaving a path from her West London roots to an arena of diverse collaborations, critically acclaimed records, and iconic live appearances around the world. Cook's ability to continually surprise, delight, and progress solidifies her position as one of the most exciting voices in reggae, and this is crystal clear on her third full-length and Merge debut, Vessel of Love.
Cook's music career commenced early when family friend and punk trailblazer Ari Up asked Cook, age 19 at the time, to join the raucous '70s feminist UK post-punk outfit The Slits for their reformation in 2006. She thrived on being thrown into the deep end and quickly cut her teeth with four years of back-to-back shows around the globe. Her talents recognized and nurtured, she then released her first solo album Hollie Cook in 2011, with a revered 2012 dub album follow-up, while singles such as "Milk & Honey" and "That Very Night" gained support from influential radio stations across Europe. After performing at The Stone Roses concert at Manchester's Heaton Park at the personal request of Ian Brown, and her hypnotic performance on the prestigious Later With Jools Holland, the way was paved for Hollie's solo career to take off.
For someone who claimed "it's hard for a band to really stand out and shake up the world," Cook was certainly making a good go of proving herself wrong. By the end of 2014, Jamie T had requested her support for his Alexandra Palace show and featured her on his track "They Told Me It Rained." Cook had also unleashed Twice via Mr. Bongo Records, and with Mike "Prince Fatty" Pelanconi once again aiding in the album's conception, Cook confidently delivered with her follow-up to a well-received debut. In the wake of another successful release, Hollie hit the road with both The Skints and Protoje, and lent her vocal talent to Quantic's "Shuffle Them Shoes" single, which also featured on his 1000 Watts album.
Acclaimed legendary producer Martin "Youth" Glover is Cook's most recent collaborator, lending his venerable production expertise to Vessel of Love. His success with Killing Joke is only surpassed by his enduring reputation as one of the most prolific producers in the UK. "I'm very honored to work with Hollie, one of the most exciting emerging singers and writers over the last ten years," says Glover. Hollie Cook sits in good company on his impressive production list, joining the likes of Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, The Verve, Primal Scream, Pink Floyd, and Depeche Mode. Glover describes Cook's songs as "sharp lyrical observations and clever word play combined with an exquisite and informed pop sensibility," and they are only elevated by Glover's production on Vessel of Love, in particular the singles "Survive" and "Freefalling" as well as deeper cuts like "Ghostly Fading" and "Together."1. Angel Fire
2. Stay Alive
4. Ghostly Fading
6. Lunar Addiction
7. Turn It Around
8. Vessel of Love
10. Far From Me$18.99Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Wild WorldAt first glance the striking artwork for Bastille's hugely anticipated second album, 'Wild World', may prompt a number of questions. Who are the two individuals balanced precariously above a cityscape? Why are they there? What will happen next? But Dan Smith's own interpretation of the image is one that runs through many of the songs on Wild World, "To me, the image isn't about what's just happened or what happens next," he begins. "It's not about how they got there or how they get down. It's about sharing a moment - two friends existing in that split second in that exact space, two people framed in the vast context of this huge mad metropolis that we've all built. They're there out of choice."
The London four-piece release their hugely anticipated second album, 'Wild World' in 2016. The album follows the band's global four million selling, multi-platinum debut, Bad Blood.
The announcement follows a fever pitch build spearheaded by infectious new single 'Good Grief', which received an incredible reaction across media and charted as last week's highest new entry as well as achieving the most week-one streams ever for an alternative single. The surreal video for the track clocked up over half a million views in just 48 hours and the band's recent triumphant Glastonbury set drew one of the largest crowds of the weekend and was hailed by the NME as "A masterclass in how to win Glastonbury."
Wild World retains the vivid, rich, filmic song-writing of its predecessor but pushes the band's distinctive sound in exciting new directions. Lyrically, too, it's a leap forward, "If our first album was about growing up and the anxieties surrounding it" Dan explains, "Our second is about trying to make sense of the world around you, both as you see it and as it's presented to you through the media. It's also about asking questions of the world and of the people in it. We wanted the album to be a bit disorientating - at times extroverted and introverted, light and dark."
Written by Dan Smith and co-produced with Bastille fifth member Mark Crew, Wild World was recorded in the same tiny, South London windowless basement studio where the band recorded its predecessor. It's a collection of fourteen songs (nineteen on the deluxe edition) that sees Bastille at their boldest and most daring. Anthemic yet thought-provoking tracks include the fiery, string-laden, 'The Currents', a poignant and timely song that was written about, "Specific public figures on both sides of the Atlantic, and how it can be hard to believe they can think certain thoughts, let alone say them out loud or get on a podium and broadcast them." As well as the bombastic 'Send Them Off!' which boasts the attitude of a classic hip hop song set against the lyrical narrative and insecurities that are part of Bastille's own DNA, whilst referencing both The Exorcist and Othello. The track exemplifies Dan's belief in shuffle culture and the end of rigid genre boundaries. There's also the pensive, stripped back Depeche Mode-esque sound bed for the band's beautiful album trailer, 'Two Evils' which was recorded in one take; As well as the irresistible and rousing 'Snakes' and the guitar heavy 'Blame', which Dan describes as, "Our first foray into big guitar riffs, in a fictional standoff between two gangsters."
But at the heart of it all, there's a sense of escapism that runs through Wild World and a fascination with the human condition and the relationships we all forge, fight over and sometimes forget. "The world can seem a fucked up place," Dan concludes. "But people - well, people can be amazing. The relationships you choose to have in your life are the main solace. They're the things that make life awesome."1. Good Grief
2. The Currents
3. An Act of Kindness
7. Two Evils
8. Send Them Off!
10. Four Walls (The Ballad of Perry Smith)
12. Fake It
14. Winter of Our Youth$35.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Strange DesireBleachers will release debut album 'Strange Desire' on RCA Records. The highly anticipated album was written and produced by Grammy Award winning musician Jack Antonoff with co-producer John Hill (MIA, Jay Z, Empire of the Sun) as well as Vince Clarke (Depeche Mode, Yaz, Erasure) and others.
"It's the 2 words that perfectly title what this Bleachers album is as a documentation of my life as I can remember it at this point", wrote Antonoff yesterday afternoon in the Craigslist ad he posted announcing the album title.
Bleachers first single "I Wanna Get Better" has already streamed over 1.5 million times, was deemed "the song of the summer in February" by the Huffington Post and quickly skyrocketed into the top 10 at Alt radio.
Since the Bleachers launch in February critics have been nothing but excited and eager to hear more. Rolling Stone exclaimed "We'll be shocked if it's not all over the radio by spring", TIME raved " it's exciting to imagine what else Antonoff has up his sleeve" and Hilly Dilly proclaimed " this is the kind of music that can't get big enough."
Hailing from New Jersey, 29 year old Jack Antonoff has been in the music scene for over a decade. In 2002, with Jack as the lead singer, the success of New Jersey born indie rock band Steel Train was well underway. Steel Train's cult following lead them to make their national television debut on Late Night With Conan O'Brien and later appeared on Late Show With David Letterman. In 2008, Jack joined Nate Ruess and Andrew Dost to form the Grammy award winning fun.
In addition to being a multi-talented musician, Jack is a critically acclaimed songwriter and producer. His achievements include fun. being honored with the Vanguard Award at the 2014 ASCAP Pop Music Awards and co-writing fun.'s Grammy award winning song "We Are Young" and Grammy nominated album Some Nights. He also received a Golden Globe nomination for his collaboration with Taylor Swift on her song "Sweeter Than Fiction. Jack has also worked with Sara Bareilles, co-writing her Grammy nominated hit "Brave, and Canadian Indie icons Tegan and Sara.1. Wild Heart
4. I Wanna Get Better
5. Wake Me
6. Reckless Love
7. Take Me Away (ft. Grimes)
8. Like A River Runs
9. You're Still A Mystery
10. I'm Ready To Move On/Wild Heart Reprise (ft. Yoko Ono)
11. Who I Want You To Love$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now