Posts Tagged Dom Brown

Music Monday – What We REALLY Like

When meeting someone new, one of the first questions we ask is what their favorite music is. How many times have we been answered that they “like everything”? Well, guess what? This is a lie.

Probing unearths a deep-seated hatred of either a genre or a particular artist. Which is fine, to each his/her own, right? So, why say you like everything? As someone who has done it in the past… What? Me? Unperfect Flawed? Absolutely! Where was I? Oh yeah, reasons why we say we like everything.

Well, the biggest reason I used to do it was because I wanted people to think I was cool. If we say we like everything, we’re sure to like what the other person likes, right? How cool is that? Of course, I’d get outed the first time they played death metal or really hard-core rap. I just can’t take it. It’s fine for others, but I just get so violently angry when I listen to it that I get all depressed and… uncool. Of course they, in turn, would cringe when I played NSYNC or Lorrie Morgan. The point is, everybody has different tastes, and that is cool. That’s what makes us awesome, our uniqueness.

So, let’s all make a promise, okay? When someone asks us what our favorite music is, we tell the truth. I’ll go first. It must be pop for me, as my top five artists are Duran Duran, JC Chasez, Christina Aguilera, Elvis Presley, and Madonna. Although I do very much like many other artists in other genres.

So who floats your boat, musically speaking?

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Fangirl Friday – All You Need Is Live

Welcome to a new edition of Fangirl Friday! Snowbound in the frozen north (of Texas) mostly because I’m afraid of the loony toons on the road who have no idea how to navigate in weather that we normally don’t get, I’m pretty cozy. It’s all Duran Duran‘s fault.

Last night, I got to see them play live with two of my best friends and one of my sisters. Y’all, I’ve got a confession to make. I am now in love with All You Need Is Now. All the problems I had with it were absent in a live performance. It was a short set because they shared the evening with two other acts, but it was a lovely way to induct my friend Kelly to the wonders of Duran Duran live. Laura and I had spent the morning and afternoon “schooling” her in the ways of Duranies, playing songs they were likely to play, teaching her some of the audience participation stuff they like, and so on.

We braved the icy roads and idiot drivers to get to the Verizon Theater for the Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam and ran into my sister, Alia, who had scored a free semi-VIP ticket thanks to one of her friends. After they had been ushered away, our threesome went to find our seats… in the far right corner where we could barely see the stage. While that seems bad, that was a pittance compared to how badly VH-1 managed the evening. But I get ahead of myself.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a fantastic time. That, however, was due to the excellent performances despite the poor management of the event. In a three-performer show that started at seven at night, Duran was billed second. That usually means they play second,or at least they would at any other such event. What that means is that Duranies who had no desire to see the first act has no way of knowing that Duran would actually go on first, their bits being recorded to air in the middle of the televised event. Thanks to Twitter, some knew that Duran would be up first. Thanks to my personal paranoia of being late to anything, our group arrived just after the doors opened at six. We saw the Twitter notice after Duran had played.

 As soon as it was announced that Duran was taking the stage, the three of us jumped up, manning our far out post like good soldiers, cheering, hollering, and dancing to save the world. Admittedly, it had been a few years since I’d last seen them, and hearing them again, even at our far away station was happy. They opened with a classic: A View to a Kill. In the proverbial fan groove, when they announced  they were playing a song from the new album, I was admittedly apprehensive. My friend Laura said that my face and posture actually fell at the prospect. However, midway through the first verse, I finally felt what other fans have been saying this far. I was caught up in the brilliance of Being Followed to which my friend next to me was going crazy.  After the next song, Hungry Like the Wolf, VH-1 stopped the show and made my band wait on stage. SOMEONE MADE DURAN DURAN WAIT. I started ducking for fear of flying pigs.

We waited, mostly impatiently, and then a miracle happened. Laura thwapped my arm, pointing. “There’s your sister.” Sure enough, there she was. She leaned over the railing with a half-smile and gestured. I couldn’t believe it. She was inviting me to come with her. Eyes wide, I said, “Can they come with me?” She nodded and the three of us chased her across the venue until she turned into the pit, and they let us down into the pit! And we SCREAMED. The difference was amazing. The band chatted on stage, and my fangirl heart was imagining all the ways they were thrilled to see us get to move closer. Surely we’d made enough ruckus from way out in proverbial left field to get us noticed. And surely we made their evening by cheering like mad women from where we stood a few dozen rows back. I’m almost certain our little group caught at least Simon’s eye once or twice. I mean, Duran knows who belongs to them, you know?

The rest of the concert passed in an overheated blur including two new songs, All You Need is Now and Girl Panic, as well as such classics as Notorious, Come Undone, (Reach Up for the) Sunrise,  and Girls on Film. My sister even took video of me dancing without me being in any way aware of her doing so. I do remember, however, that the two men in front of us just standing there like lumps actually started to clap and dance after a song or two of us singing along and screaming behind them. The big surprise of the evening was that we didn’t hear Rio! Don’t get me wrong–I’ll never turn down Rio if someone happens to play it. However, for the last ten years, the band has closed EVERY show with this song, and I do mean every. When I hear Rio I start mentally preparing to leave wherever I am. To not hear it was lovely.

The joy of the evening, however, was introducing Kelly to one of the loves of my life. Kelly’s a bit younger than me, but she’s been incredibly gracious to indulge my hobby. I was far more excited about taking her to the show than myself even. I wanted to witness that joy I remember feeling when I first saw them live. And as I mentioned before, Kelly didn’t have the history with them that I did. Her main frame of reference for the band was having played along with their music on “Band Hero.” Bless it for existing. So when they concert started, she knew almost none of the songs, despite her brief introduction to the band. She cheered and danced and clapped along with us, and I figured at that point it was mainly due to being swept away with the crowd. All that changed when Girls on Film played. I looked to my left and there she was, screaming loudly enough to be heard above the others, twenty-year old hands in the air waving, and cheeks pointed so far skyward I thought she might float away! She bounced and danced along finally really feeling like one of us. The energy rolling off her was restorative for me, knowing that my well-aging band could capture an entirely new generation who weren’t born until after their fame had withered away. In that way, the band definitely has a point: all I needed was now. Right that moment when we were all surrounded by pure joy and magic. My ego forced my chest out a bit because for all time I will be part of Kelly’s first memory of Duran Duran. In that way, my legacy lives on with theirs.

When we got home, we stayed up to watch the re-airing on VH-1. If I hadn’t been there, and had to rely solely on their representation of the concert, I would’ve been incredibly disappointed in and for my boys. Their set looked short (only 2 songs aired), boring, and the fans look disinterested when they were shown at all. Which brings me back to the subject of my post. Live shows. Nothing beats live. Don’t ever think that seeing a concert aired on “live tv” is the same as watching my band live. If you can go: GO. Always. Every time. No exceptions. No matter how tired, no matter how complicated, no matter WHAT–make the effort. I’ve yet to regret it.

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Music Review Monday – Duran Duran’s Red Carpet Massacre (album)

No, your eyes do not deceive, I am posting Music Review Monday on a Tuesday. Fact is, my internet was down yesterday. Sorry about that, you guys!

Welcome to Duran Duran week on the blog! Why? Well, I’ll be going to see them perform live at the Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam on Thursday. You know how it goes, you get so excited about who you’re gonna see that you can’t think of anything else, so I thought, why fight it?

Now, having thirteen studio albums, not to mention all the various side projects and whatnot, there’s a plethora of material from which to choose. In the end, because I’m also a gamer, I asked a friend to roll a twelve-sided die. I attributed a number to each of the first twelve studio albums since we’ll have a review of lucky number thirteen when it comes out on CD.

Left with a roll of twelve, we get to discuss Red Carpet Massacre. Duran Duran’s twelfth studio album was released in November of 2007. If asked to describe it in one word, I’d have to go with lush. The sound is just full and sensuous, beckoning you to enter their magical, musical world. A large number of Duranies would disagree with me. They didn’t like it, thought it contrived and/or lackluster.

It was the album I’d been waiting for my whole life.

 I’ll admit, I was as  leery as everyone else of them working with Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, and Danja. Personally, I thought they should have worked with Timberlake’s former band mate, JC Chasez. I was never so happy to be wrong, let me tell you! The overall style of the album is tight, consistent, well-balanced among vocals and instruments, really a testament to what brilliant producers can do working with brilliant artists.

We start off with The Valley. Already I’m swaying in my seat to the beat, before Simon starts singing. The lyrics take me on a journey “through the cities and the towers, turning minutes into hours” as I sink into the instrumentation. When John’s bass solo comes up, it’s like being lifted into the storm clouds where the gods thunder. Sometimes my heart starts to beat in time to Roger’s beat, even as my veins sing along with Nick’s keyboards. Side note: everyone in the world should hear Simon Le Bon sing the word “mischievous” because it gets under your skin in all the best ways. Normally I don’t dig heavy breathing in a song, but the I’m-running-from-something feel really fits in here.

 Red Carpet Massacre opens with a dream-like interlude from Nick that alters to a pounding synth and drums tempo that wakes your senses with its brightness. Simon comes in with fast-paced lyrics that create a complementary rhythm all its own.  The chorus slams in with vocals and all instruments like a  wave of sound, carrying you away and giving the whole thing a sort of stylishly embattled feel. In interviews, Simon has said he was inspired by seeing the worst-dressed lists after an awards show, that the stars in question were being massacred by the reporter. “Enter the battle of the lenses” indeed! There’s even a warning to those who would brave the red carpet: “Ain’t the place to mess around when someone wants to take you down!” It’s fast, unrelenting, and an energizing shock to the system.

Nite Runner, one of the two songs in which Timberlake was involved, is a throbbing, pulsing club song about, as near as I can tell, falling for a  vampire. “You’re nocturnal, only come out at night,” the opening lines, definitely draw you into the concept, especially with Simon’s voice luring you on and Timbaland’s providing a deep counterpoint. From the liner notes I can see that Timberlake has also contributed backing vocals, but his voice blends so well that it’s indistinguishable unless you really hunker down and search for it. “Love is haunting,” and that’s just what this song does, deliciously haunts us into dancing.

Falling Down, the only other song on the album to which Timberlake contributes, and the only single is a danceable ballad. Inspired by Simon’s motorcycle accident, both vocals and keyboards undulate in a constant rise and fall, the rhythm section holding steady and strong. The effect is that of a body tumbling through space, the solid ground the only constant as you hit, bounce up, and fall again continuously. “Why do the cruel barbs fly? Now when disgrace can no longer hurt me?” reminds us that, even in their less popular times the press seemed to have taken joy in mocking Duran for the crime of refusing to fade into obscurity back in the eighties. Dom Brown provides a beautifully haunting guitar piece that melts into the piano outro.

Box Full o’ Honey starts out simply, just Simons voice and acoustic guitar. The other instruments come in one by one, building into a round, full sound that fills you up. The pipe sounds dimly echo, or at least recall Save A Prayer in some ways, a welcome familiarity. The centerpiece of this song is definitely Simon’s voice, the instruments lifting, supporting, highlighting him as we flow along.

Skin Divers, probably the first song they should have released, thumps in, demanding you be caught up in the beat. Simon croons in the lower regions of his range, beckoning you to move with him as the disco ball comes down, getting caught up, up against the wall… Ahem.  The song, for all it’s driving beat, flows through your veins, Timbaland’s voice a perfect, heartbeat-like counterpoint. It also contains my very favorite lyric of all time: “A blushing rose is torn from these sugar walls, I misplaced my future, could I please borrow yours?”

Tempted slides in, more airy and floaty than the rest of the album, but no less compelling. It’s poppy and peppy from top to bottom, carefree, tempting you once more out onto the dance floor. “Like you know it’s meant to, oh yeah.” It feathers along our nerves, through our veins, until we’re flying along, lost in the beat.

Tricked Out is an instrumental piece, a bit helter-skelter for my tastes. Even so, I like the way it sounds as though it’s what the aliens have playing on their spaceship as they check out the strange humans.

Zoom In is about Second Life, a virtual world where users can interact with one another through infinitely customizable avatars. In 2005, before Andy Taylor left Duran for the second time, there were plans in the works for the band to create their own islands and have an in-world concert. We’re still waiting. The song itself is just as surreal as SL itself can be, neatly capturing the spirit of the Linden Labs creation. It’s definitely a fun, danceable song that’s letting you in on a secret joke. “Now she arrives in a flaming crash like a falling star!”

She’s Too Much is a beautiful ballad that Simon has said was inspired by his middle daughter, Saffron. It’s reassuring, sweet, and full of love, letting her know that Daddy’s watching and will be there to catch her when she falls, be fighting in her corner.  All too often we hear of absentee fathers and deadbeat dads, that part of the beauty of the song is that it reminds us that there are fathers out there who love their children, want the best for them.

Dirty Great Monster is a great source of debate among certain Duranie factions. The band firmly states that it’s about an abusive home, the monster being the abuser. However, at first superficial blush, much to the glee of the fandom slashers, it sounds almost like the band are admitting something about their inter-relationships with one another. “Do you ever wonder about the days when we were straight?” The music is haunting and would be right at home in the soundtrack of a horror film about parental abuse. “We’re all afraid of each other, we’re the victims in this show.” It captures that hunted mistrust rife in such an atmosphere. So well in fact that, brilliant or no, it makes me uncomfortable listening to it sometimes, recalling my own episode of abuse at the hands of a roommate from years ago.

Last Man Standing is the final song on the album. It ties everything up together, just as a good finale should, pulling in the dance-ability, musicality, and themes of previous songs into a neat little package. Rather than having dessert at the end of the musical repast, it’s a cup of rich, dark coffee over which we gather and reflect about the meal just finished.

So what do you think? Is there an album that makes a full meal for you?

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