The Devil Makes Three – Chains Are Broken

Hard to believe it’s been five years since The Devil Makes Three last put out a record of all-original material (2016’s satisfying Redemption & Ruin was a creatively curated covers album that spoke to a general theme). And it takes just one or two songs into their new one, Chains Are Broken, for you realize just how much they were missed. Continue reading “The Devil Makes Three – Chains Are Broken”

The Posies – Dear 23/Frosting on the Beater (CDs)

When Omnivore Recordings first announced their re-release of the Posies’ debut “Failure,” it was just a matter of time before they got around to the band’s two best efforts, 1990’s “Dear 23” and 1993’s “Frosting on the Beater.” Continue reading “The Posies – Dear 23/Frosting on the Beater (CDs)”

James – Living in Extraordinary Times (Infectious/BMG)

The English-based alt rock band James has turned to a familiar topic throughout Living in Extraordinary Times, their 15th studio album: the current, global political landscape. President Trump and his fellow right wing, nationalist contemporaries in the UK have brought every racism and jingoism to the forefront of everyone’s day to day life, so it’s not surprising that musicians from countless genres are tapping the Grand Wizard In Chief for lyrical inspiration these days. From the lines in “Many Faces” (“There’s only one human race/Many faces /Everybody belongs here”), to the sharp lyrics of “Head,” with laments of fake news and the poor voting against their own interest, Tim Booth crafts his most focused lyrics in years. Continue reading “James – Living in Extraordinary Times (Infectious/BMG)”

Riley Moore – Vagrant (CD)

There is seems to be a strong sense of inauthenticity with the vast number of bands who are suddenly unplugging their guitars and calling themselves “Americana” now. But soon enough, another genre will come along and be ripe for exploitation. And when it does, you can bet Riley Moore, a refreshingly genuine voice in the Americana/Folk movement, will still be playing his brand of no frills, but deeply satisfying music from that genre. Continue reading “Riley Moore – Vagrant (CD)”

The Alarm – Equals

Over the past several years, when not on their seemingly endless global tour, Mike Peters and his bandmates have been busy breathing new life into old classics. First came the 30th anniversary of their debut, “Declaration,” which saw the songs re-interpreted and re-recorded for a new decade, followed quickly by “Peace Train,” another series of re-recordings, this time of lesser known B-Sides. But, after an eight-year break, the band is finally back with a new studio record comprised entirely of new material. “Equals,” the result, is a strong addition to the band’s cannon. Continue reading “The Alarm – Equals”

U2 – Achtung Baby, Zooropa and The Best of 1980-1990 (Vinyl)

U2 is the latest in line to get the re-release treatment on vinyl and the occurrence serves as a great reminder of the band’s ability to redefine their style again and again.

Their latest records to get a proper 180-gram double LP treatment are 1991’s Achtung Baby, 1993’s Zooropa and their first of two hits packages, “The Best of 1980-1990”. Achtung Baby was their first proper studio album in four years, following up the phenomenally successful Joshua Tree (the in between record, Rattle and Hum, a hybrid live album/documentary soundtrack, was quickly written off by many fans and critics at the time as little more than a placeholder). The band made a calculated, if risky decision not to simply remake Joshua Tree, rather they took a step away from their more obvious American rock influences for a more European feel. Recorded in Berlin, the comparisons to late ‘70s Bowie are obvious and though not exactly a dance record, there is a bi move toward electronic music with this album. Though not quite as big a seller as Joshua Tree, it is still a remarkably satisfying record, having spawned a slew of songs that would go on to become U2 staples like “Even Better Than the Real Thing,” “Mysterious Ways,” “Whose Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses,” and “One”.

Zooropa, initially planned as an EP, morphed into a full-fledged album and continued the band’s move into separating themselves from their earlier, more Americana/rock-based sound. Reflecting the band’s polarizing Zoo TV Tour, where Bono debuted his smarmy “The Fly” character, Zooropa is crammed with themes of technology and sensory overload and that’s reflected not only in the lyrics, but the synth-heavy music itself. Though still a great album, Zooropa lacks both lasting singles and suffers from a bit from its rushed nature. Continue reading “U2 – Achtung Baby, Zooropa and The Best of 1980-1990 (Vinyl)”