The Record Lounge – 04/12/2013 – Depeche Mode, The Strokes, David Bowie, The Mavericks, The Black Angels

DMDMDepeche Mode – Delta Machine

I’ve been a Depeche Mode fan since around 1985. 28 years at this point, roughly 9/14 of my life. I have to tell ya. Not a huge fan of this new record. Sounds of the Universe was okay, I thought Playing the Angel was actually pretty good for the listens I gave it, but had been lost since the early 90’s on the band. I really have no opinion of either Ultra or Exciter, to be honest. But all the early reports coming from the Depeche Mode camp was this was a throwback to Violator/Songs of Faith and Devotion era. And while I consider anything past Music for the Masses NEW Depeche Mode, I felt pretty relieved to hear this early assessment.

Boy, are they wrong.

I had envisioned hopes and dreams of sweeping songs and big choruses, the sort of thing that got people into them in the first place. What I got out of it in the 2 spins I’ve given it so far (and probably period) was beeps and bloops and not much in the way of a song. After the first single “Heaven” was released, I still had hope. Maybe this is just a tease and the rest of it will be upbeat. How incorrect I was. I do not feel that Delta Machine gets off the starting blocks let alone quenches any Depeche Mode fan’s thirst for a new record. Call Alan Wilder. Please. Drop the guitar (yeah, I know it’s been in play with them for 20 years or so) and let’s hear some romantic big, bright yet gloomy and danceable synth-pop again. Forget Violator and SOFAD, pull out Some Great Reward or the crown jewel that is Black Celebration. Those are great records, and in my humble opinion, the last great work Depeche Mode has done. Begging. Please.

Oh, I’ll see you on tour though, don’t worry about that. We can chat further then.

Update: I have listened to the record a couple more times since this original body of a review was compiled. I do not hate this new record. I do not Love it either. I finally started to see the songs in Delta Machine. But this is exactly what I do not want from Depeche Mode. I do not want to hunt for the song. I want it to be what I had stated earlier, romantic, big, bright, gloomy and danceable at once as only they can pull off and to ditch the guitars. Synth-pop. I am in no way against musicians growing or evolving. That’s the name of the game. But I would at least like elements of what got me into them in the first place to remain. To me, Violator is “new” Depeche Mode. I am not the person that loved that record. Or Songs of Faith and Devotion. I liked those records. LIKED. And I feel the same about Delta Machine. But just barely.

The Mavericks in timeThe Mavericks – In Time

All hail the return of The Mavericks! If only Nashville would take a cue from this Floridian act, mainstream country music would be bearable. With their first record since 2003’s uneven self-titled outing, In Time belongs in the pantheon of their heyday, the pre-Trampoline glory of Music for All Occasions, What A Crying Shame and so forth. This is The Mavericks we all loved through most of the 90’s with a little more bite this go-round. Want proof? Check out track 2, “Lies” and you’ll be sold. Viva Los Mavericks!

Stokes ComedownThe Strokes – Comedown Machine

After reading some early reviews, it looks as if once again, I’m in the minority. After touting my enjoyment of 2011’s Angles, it seemed a lot didn’t like that record either. I love this new record. I believe The Strokes are evolving quite well into themselves 12 years into their catalog, incorporating an 80’s feel to their music while keeping the general form of their earlier work, which is brilliantly demonstrated in the song “One Way Trigger”. Comedown Machine has its differences mind you, but I implore you to listen to it for yourself.

Black Angels indigo meadowThe Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

The fourth record from Austin psych sextet The Black Angels picks up right where 2010’s Phosphene Dream left off, and that’s a compliment. Their style of modern rocking retrograde psychedelia fits right in with Austin’s tapestry and musical legacy while possessing a very listenable quality to their music – the accessibility of Indigo Meadow is its major strength. Standout tracks “Don’t Play With Guns”, the title track and “Holland”.

Bowie next dayDavid Bowie – The Next Day

By now we’re all familiar with the story of this record, recorded in a very hush-hush manner in NYC over the past couple of years, then sprung on an unwitting public almost overnight after a 10 year recording hiatus. If this is to be David Bowie’s final hurrah, the shroud of mystery suits it perfectly. As a huge Bowie fan, I’ve eagerly awaited the follow up to his excellent Reality. That was the whole idea behind his Columbia Records deal, he could record whenever and release whenever, meaning he could make a record per year if he wanted, but that just wasn’t the case.

As happy as I am for a new record, for me, it takes The Next Day a little bit to gain steam. The first half appears to be safe, starting with a nod to “Fashion” with the title track but quickly retreats into a safe area, only barely showing a pulse with “Stars (Are Out Tonight)” on through to the lead single “Where Are We Now” and “Valentine’s Day”.

If You Can See Me” is the wakeup call signifying the close of the first half of the record, and a much needed kick in the pants. “I’d Rather Be High” and “Dancing In Outer Space” help keep the pace going on through the all-out rocker “You Will Set The World On Fire” through to the denouement of “Heat”, the final track of the record and possibly the final Bowie song we might ever get, taking it home for us.

Overall, if this is our final offering from David Bowie, from an album standpoint, it’s a solid effort to go out with. The Next Day will certainly be a positive footnote to the later catalog of this iconic figure, musician and artist.

~ by thesynaptic on April 12, 2013.

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