Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Category: Music (Page 1 of 10)

Battle Tapes – Texture

2023 has, no joke, been a great year so far for new music. We got new material from some of my favorite current acts, such as Mono Inc and VNV Nation. We even get a new Garbage EP. (I might cover that at a later date.) Never mind Peter Gabriel and his “one new song per full moon all year” thing, because he’s such an utter nerd.

This, though. This album. I’ve anticipated this release the most since singles started dropping for it last year: “If Only” in July, “In Too Deep” in September, and “One Night in Burbank” just a couple months ago. Not a dud among ’em.

So obviously one of my first tasks this morning was to pick up the full album (oh 7Digital, I like your service but hate that you’re PayPal-only) and dive in. Right away I noticed a couple of things, though.

“Weight of the World” is here, and that single dropped in 2019. It was used in the first season of the gen:LOCK animated series and appears on that show’s soundtrack as well, along with “Syntax,” which is… also here.

So out of ten songs total, two are a few years old and three more are lead-off singles. That’s not a bad thing! I’m glad those two particular songs have escaped cartoon-soundtrack obscurity if nothing else. It just leaves me only half a record of new material to dig into, that’s all. (Not that I avoided the singles and older material while listening to all of Texture, because they’re all very good.)

Luckily the first brand new song to get my attention was, ah, “Brand New.” Right at the start of the album, how convenient! As for the rest, not all of them are as strong as the singles but only one (“Back In The Game”) actively annoyed me. (Look, even Daft Punk could only barely get away with using one short string of words as the entire repeating lyric for a dance song.)

Is Texture going to be my top album of 2023? Hard to say, honestly. I feel like being made up half of songs I already liked from months (and years) ago is a bit of a handicap, but on the other hand… I really like those songs. It’s a solid contender if nothing else.

But we’re not even halfway into the year. Have we already heard all the good new records we’re going to get? (I mean, other than Peter Gabriel’s slow-drip album release project.) I couldn’t tell ya; I’m infamously bad at predictions. I look forward to finding out, though.

VNV Nation – Electric Sun

After a two-week delay (I originally thought this album was due on the 14th, but when I bought it on 7Digital they said it was a preorder and I could download on the 28th), I finally have my hands (virtually speaking) on the new VNV Nation album, Electric Sun.

And it’s pretty good!

Look, I’ll keep this brief: There are no bad songs here, and a few really good songs. This is a very iterative album, which is to say it’s building solidly & steadily upon the records which came before it, with no wild departures or groundbreaking experimentation. And that’s fine! Sometimes a band just wants to show up, do their thing, and speak their mind. (VNV Nation in particular has always been a band with things to say, after all.)

Highlights? My favorite songs so far are “Artifice” and “Wait,” with honorable mention for “The Game,” “Invictus,” and “Sunflare.”

Electric Sun has a good chance of being my favorite album of the year… though one should keep in mind that the new Battle Tapes is due next week…

Depeche Mode – Memento Mori

I can imagine few situations more challenging than trying to craft an ostensibly commercial creative project almost immediately after the death of one of your longtime collaborators. How do you balance the push and pull of “the record has to sell or the label will be cranky with us” versus “this needs to be meaningful on some level”? I’m not sure I could do it, and I wholly understand why a band might just “nope” out of existence when one of its members passes on.

With all of that said, yesterday’s release of Memento Mori, Depeche Mode’s follow-up to 2017’s Spirit album and their first project since the death of Andy Fletcher last year, didn’t connect with me. Is it well crafted? Definitely, absolutely. Are the lyrics laden with meaning? I suppose so, but my brain doesn’t process lyrics very well so I’m only guessing here. And the problem is, I suspect that if lyrics were what I connected to in a song then I’d be faring much better with this record. They’re not, and I’m not.

Will I listen to most of it again? Probably not. It’s not bad, for the most part, barring a couple of tracks that actively repelled me. The album’s just not working for me. It might for you, though! And that’s cool.

Quick End-Of-Month Check-In

Let’s see… here are a few things I don’t yet have time + energy to flesh out, though some will get further attention at some point:

  • The GameBall trackball is holding up pretty well so far. At least, it hasn’t infuriated me and does its job reliably. So far. The third in the ongoing “in search of” post series will bubble up here probably in early February.
  • There’s a new Mono Inc record out, I have it, I’ve heard it. I need to sit with it and give it another solid listen-through before I feel like I’ll be ready to give it a proper review. It’s coming, though.
  • Fire Emblem Engage has taken over a lot of my free time, and that’s a good thing. If you have any interest in the game series at all and have read some reviews and seen first-impressions videos, my opinion probably won’t surprise you by diverging from a lot of those… but I want to get a bit further into the main storyline before putting my own complete thoughts in order here. I’ll absolutely be ranting and raving about it before much longer, don’t you worry.
  • I don’t think I’m writing an entire post about how angry I am about the state of housing. Nobody needs to read that, and I don’t need to be writing it. Suffice to say that I feel intensely frustrated by the fact that at almost exactly the time that I paid off the big big loan and started stashing money away for a potential move, the costs of everything jumped skyward and now I just… can’t. I’ve nearly been priced out of existing.
  • Another brief grumble unworthy of an entire post? The folks who make the good version of my primary diabetes-treatment medicine could resolve their supply-chain issues any day now, please and thank you. Taking the other folks’ version is a fuss and a bother and I hate it. (A pill-crusher is involved. Feh.)
  • And to end on a positive note, I need to write up my experiences with trains in Satisfactory now that they’ve been the central concept of my latest solo savegame and an integral part of the co-op game I’m playing with the kids. It’s been fun! But… there are definitely drawbacks to going All Trains All The Time. I’ll get into that at some point in the next few weeks.

That’s all for now, folks. I hope you’re staying healthy and safe.

2022 Album Wrap-up

It’s that time of year when, on social media, you start seeing some folks’ “Spotify Wrapped” posts along with various websites’ “best of” listicles and such-like. Well, this wasn’t a huge year for new music for me and since I had a computer rebuild partway through the year, my “most played” data in MusicBee is… stunted.

But that’s not going to stop me from talking about the albums (and one “EP” big enough to qualify) I bought this year.

(I’m leaving singles and one particular compilation/soundtrack record out for various reasons. If someone’s really curious I can loop back around to them in another post.)

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