Monday, 16 September 2013

The Killer's Direct Hits and Shot At The Night.

So, The Killers new single Shot At The Night has been premiered on the Zane Lowe radio show. I didn't get a chance to listen to the radio broadcast myself - but I've listened to the new song twice already. I personally really like it and expect it to be a slow burner. It's already in my head. It's produced by M83 and that's definitely apparent. It's synthy and much more in line with Hot Fuss than Battle Born, which is nice. It's good to see them embrace the synthesizers fully again. It's a good song, I can't see it becoming an all time favourite but it's a lot better than the worst tracks on Battle Born in my opinion. It's mid-tempo though so I hope the other new song on the greatest hits is more of an upbeat number. The greatest hits is entitled - rather cleverly I might add - Direct Hits and on Amazon it's scheduled for release on November 11th. I've read a report that it will be released as a standard edition and a deluxe edition with a bonus documentary DVD. That's in keeping with what Amazon are saying because they do have a version with a DVD on the site. The track-listing and details I've read yet haven't been confirmed on The Killers own Facebook page. I'll have a second, more concrete post once I read absolute official details of the greatest hits. Stay tuned!

On this Day: Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love released.

 On September 16th 1985 Kate Bush released what many (myself included) regard as her finest hour. Hounds of Love just transcends time completely - it's mystical pop crossed with art rock sound makes for a listening experience unlike any other.

The first time I heard the album I was bemused. I had never heard anything like it before and I couldn't comprehend it. The album had... something though. An aura, something that was entincing me back. One day I was listening to the album on a starry winter's night in the car. The song And Dream Of Sheep came on. It's a beautiful lullaby of a song. And as I gazed up at the sky, peppered with stars as I listened to it... it all came together. To this day, the album still remains a firm favourite of mine.

One thing I also find absolutely fascinating is how defiant the album is. Just a mere two days prior to the premiere of Running Up That Hill on BBC1's Wogan show NME published a Where Are They Now? article, one of the subjects of the piece being Kate. Just two days later, the Hounds Of Love era began. Running Up That Hill became one of her biggest hits, and Hounds Of Love her biggest seller. It's also arguably the pinnacle of her career in terms of critical acclaim too. The moral of the story? Never write a great talent off. And really, assume nothing in life. Little did the author of that NME article know that Kate Bush was in her studio, creating an album that would rightfully be seen as one of the all time greats. A personal and professional high indeed. Hounds Of Love really is her opus.

First impressions: The Naked & Famous - In Rolling Waves.

 Afternoon all. It's crazy to think it's been a week already since Sound System was released. I still can't believe I actually own it because time has flown by since it was announced. I watched the full contents of the DVD yesterday, I'll get working on drafting up a post about that sharpish. As for the Madonna MDNA Tour controversy, I've downloaded a copy of the EPIX broadcast. It's so I can compare and contrast the two copies. I saw a US official bluray screenshot yesterday and it looked horrendous. Far, far worse than me. The severity of the issues seems to vary copy from copy. Unacceptable. Anyway, I've got more first impressions from a new album I've heard for the first time:

I've just listened to another album I've been really looking forward too: In Rolling Waves by The Naked & Famous. I had liked their debut album, 2011's Passive Me, Aggressive You. Sadly In Rolling Waves didn't live up to my expectations. It just sort of rolled along (excuse the pun). At just under an hour in length, I felt there was no real standout moment. Nothing on the album impressed me as much as Punching On A Dream from their debut album did. The second half of the album did pick up slightly but. Even then though, it wasn't anything overly special. In fact, the only track I can say I really liked was A Stillness. Everything else made minimal impact on me. There wasn't much variety on the album either. It's listenable, but frankly I have no desire to ever listen to it again. I have to say it's one of the most underwhelming experiences I've had with an album in quite some time. Disappointing to say the least.

That's really it for now, but not for today. There's a retrospective post I want to make also, regarding an anniversary of an all time favourite album. Also we have The Killers announcement coming today so you can expect some sort of post on that too. See you soon!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

The MDNA Tour Debacle

Afternoon all, I watched the MDNA Tour bluray in full last night. All I am left wondering is just what went wrong in the production of this bluray and DVD.

For a start, there is a lot of grain. Unacceptable amounts for a bluray really. The start of I Don't Give A Fuck looked awful. Up until Express Yourself grainy shots were featuring in more or less every song After that I felt they subsided a lot but they still cropped up every so often. However - they still seemed to only effect a relatively small portion of shots, which leads me to my next criticism: the camera-work is chaotic.

The multi-angle shots are in utter overkill here. This bluray must have a record for that. It's certainly the worst I've ever seen. To be fair - this show would be a nightmare to film. There's a massive stage, and trying to cover the dancers, the screens, Madonna (of course) and even the crowd is a massive undertaking. The problem here for me is they've tried too hard. As a consequence it feels very disorienting to watch - even during the choreography segments the camera will dart between dancers, crowd and wideshots of the stage. I personally feel that crowd shots took up far too much time, and they were always grainy. Not only that but it's been edited far too much. There's also a lot of Instagram style filters with minimal contrast. I'm not sure if that was the intention, but it looks over-edited and frankly nasty. here's plenty of super-imposed shots for good measure too. There's also far too many slow motion shots for me. It spoils what are otherwise spectacular dance moves. I found it difficult to immerse myself in what was going on. And that's before we get to the sound.

The sound is also poor on this. As I've said before - I'm no audiophile. Having said that this was just flat. When songs like I'm Addicted and Like A Prayer pack no punch whatsoever something has gone wrong. It's not Madonna's performance either. The dance instrumental in Gang Bang actually verged on inaudible. The 5.1 sound is also defective: if you have a home cinema system then this won't work. How can that even happen? I haven't heard the CD yet, but I've heard mixed reviews on that too.

Also the menu simply doesn't work. The only reason I was able to watch it was because of pressing play on the menu. However, I couldn't select the play concert option on the DVD the way you normally can. As for being able to access chapter options or even the extras - forget it. No cursor appears. Also - the menu itself had very poor design. I wear glasses and my bed is situated close enough to my TV and it was very hard to see. If I were at the top of my bed it wouldn't have been readable whatsoever.

It's a real shame this has happened, because the tour itself looked excellent. However this live representation doesn't do it justice whatsoever. Amazon are currently investigating it, and based on what I've read it appears the manufacturers have admitted there have been production issues. For now - I cannot recommend this whatsoever. A dismal disappointment. I'll have more as this situation unfolds.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Collection: Sound System has arrived!

Well, this is the moment I've been counting down to for what feels like an age. Pre-ordered June 20th, arrived September 14th. I can't actually believe it's here, it seems so surreal. At 12 discs, it's by far and away the biggest musical purchase I've ever made. And it is just beautiful. The packaging is amazing. Just as importantly however, the remastering sounds equally as impressive. I'm no audiophile but it sounds crystal clear, and I can hear things I never heard before. I haven't heard an album in full yet but me and my brother (whose equally as impressed) listened to random tracks from it earlier. I have to say I already love the extended version of Sean Flynn - given how much I love the original though that's not really a surprise. It's an utter treat to finally have an official copy of The Beautiful People Are Ugly Too as well. Terrific song. I never in my life thought I would ever see the Armagideon Times fanzines also. It was a stroke of genius to include them (as well as the new one). We haven't watched the DVD yet - that's going to be for tomorrow. I simply can't wait to see the unreleased material on that though. This was totally worth every penny, and I cannot wait to digest it over the coming days!

Clash updates

Afternoon all, it promises to be a very busy day here at my house. I'm sure you can see where this is going: Sound System has arrived! It's at the family business right now (it made for an easier delivery). It will remain there until 5pm, then it will be brought home. Well, both copies really because my brother copy arrived too. We're opening them together so there is going to be some fun in my house this evening. It goes without saying that pictures will be posted.

The other related Clash update is that (perhaps appropriately) I've started reading Marcus Gray's Route 19 Revisited: The Clash and London Calling. I'm about seventeen pages in and already the amount of meticulous research that has gone into this book is apparent. I'm still very much in the introductory stages of the book -at 500 + pages it's definitely not lacking in length. Already I feel slightly more well versed about the significance of train imagery in rock and roll songs. God knows how detailed it's going to get when I start reading about London Calling itself. Numerous reviews have started that the smallest minutiae of the songs are analyzed, explained etc. It's going to be a slow read, but one that will surely prove fascinating and thoroughly rewarding.

That's it for now, but definitely not for the day. It's just a little over two hours to go before I finally get Sound System. I simply cannot wait.

Collection #2: The Clash Hits Back arrives.

Also, the first of the two new Clash releases arrived today. I know, I know, this may be rather excessive. This is just a greatest hits and I already own all the tracks (before even ordering Sound System). One reason I ordered this is it contains a copy of the original setlist, handwritten by Joe Strummer, in the booklet. That may be shallow I'll concede. Also on a personal level - I won't get many chances to enjoy an upcoming Clash release. I better make the most of them when they do happen therefore. Besides, I'd be shocked if there was a bigger release than Sound System. Most importantly though it's handy for when I'm going somewhere and I just want one Clash CD. It's got the best track listing of all the greatest hits in my opinion, so this is still a CD I will get a lot of use out of, even if it offers nothing new in terms of musical content.