Marilyn Manson – We Are Chaos

In the summer of 2019, I attended an in store performance at a famous record store in West Seattle. The artist was someone who had deep roots in the early 80’s Seattle punk scene but eventually made his name with a notorious hard rock band out of Los Angeles, CA. This artist once again was living in West Seattle and had become sort of a prodigal son when he wasn’t on the road reunited with the band who had made him famous. It was cool to meet Duff McKagan. The show had a country vibe with a few Guns N Roses classics in the setlist. But one of my takeaways from that evening was how cool his collaborator was. Shooter Jennings was like talking to an old friend. Personable, nice, and in pre-COVID days, willing to shake my hand. I also forgot to get a picture with Shooter – a big regret. Shooter Jennings – you may have heard – is a performer, co-writer, and producer on Marilyn Manson’s new album, We Are Chaos.

Straight up – I’m not a huge Marilyn Manson fan. The early albums felt like unfocused rage to me. A brief dalliance with a Bowie allegiance caught my ears – indeed, I still listen to 1998’s Mechanical Animals 22 years later. After that? It is very hit or miss for me. My interest was triggered in recent years by his cover of God’s Gonna Cut You Down – a posthumous song released by Johnny Cash. The new Marilyn Manson songs seemed seeped in country and blues, yet still had that old rage. When I heard Shooter Jennings was involved with the new album, I knew I had to have a copy. It doesn’t disappoint – this is easily my favorite Marilyn Manson album. Your mileage may vary, to be sure. But what I like about it is that it takes just about every sound he has explored over the last 25+ years and blends it into an intoxicating brew. Industrial, new wave, country, blues – there is even some crooning on this record.

Continue reading

Duran Duran – Save a Prayer

4_SAVE_A_PRAYER_AUSTRALIA_EMI-891_DURAN_DURAN

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

Save a Prayer was the sixth single released by Duran Duran, making its way to the airwaves on August 9, 1982. At the time, it was the most successful Duran Duran single in the band’s brief history. Backed by an eerie synth riff that is also insanely memorable, it also serves as my favorite Duran Duran song. It appears on the band’s 2nd album, Rio. Simon Le Bon’s vocals lend a weight to the proceedings that make the listener feel a sense of spiritual yearning, though the song is mostly about a 1 night stand. For me, this is where the band began to transcend their association with the New Romantic movement of the early 80’s. Lyrically, it captures the yin and yang of wanting to let go without any worries and facing the realization that “no strings” usually is an imaginary theory. “And you wanted to dance so I asked you to dance / But fear is in your soul / Some people call it a one night stand / But we can call it paradise / Don’t say a prayer for me now / Save it ’til the morning after”. The video helped solidify Duran Duran even further with the MTV crowd. It was filmed in Sri Lanka in April 1982 and lends itself to the song’s mystique. The song hit #2 on the UK charts and was not released as an official single in the US until early 1985, when it reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. Notably, Eagles of Death Metal covered the song in 2015 on their album Zipper Down and performed the song live with Duran Duran in the fall of 2015. Ultimately, the song serves as the best entry point into the vast discography of Duran Duran.

Jenn Vix – Strange Buildings

Jenn Vix

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to talk with John Ashton, formerly of The Psychedelic Furs about his new project, Satellite Paradiso. The band’s debut album showed Mr. Ashton & company moving on from the shadow of the ‘Furs, forging their own unique identity. It rates as one of my favorite albums of the last year or so. When I got wind that John Ashton featured on two tracks on Jen Vix’s new EP, Strange Buildings, I knew I had to give it a spin. Jenn Vix hails from Providence, Rhode Island and has forged an independent path whilst working with such luminaries as Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie, The Cure, Jeffrey Gaines), and Andy Anderson (The Cure). Her latest EP just might be her finest work to date, Ashton’s guitar work providing a complimentary element to Vix’s soulful vocal delivery.

Continue reading

Repeater – self titled

Repeater

Long Beach, California’s Repeater have released a steady stream of albums and extended plays since the mid 00’s. Formed by Steve Krolikowski and Rob Wallace, who had played together in The Main Frame, Repeater took that band’s darkwave aesthetic and added in elements of post punk classicism. The band (now also including Alex Forsythe on guitar and Matt Hanief on drums) generated a steady buzz, eventually working with famed producer Ross Robinson on their 2nd full length album, We Walk From Safety. One more EP would follow in 2013 before the band in its original incarnation ground to a halt. In a way, it was a shame – the band had reached the point where noise and beauty intersected as one, they truly were firing on all cylinders. Where does a broken up band do for an encore?

Continue reading

Associates – Club Country

associates club country big

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

In the days before the instant gratification of YouTube or perusing music blogs, you’d have to work quite a bit to find out of print musical gems. In the early to mid 90’s I’d read about the Associates – a group described as Bowie meets Scott Walker with a post punk edge (this was clearly before Scott Walker’s soon to come transformation / return). Oh, and the group also included Michael Dempsey, who was The Cure’s original bassist. Sounded heavenly. The only problem was that all the early records were long out of print and the ones that I could find were bastardized US versions of the albums with the usual ploy of cutting great tracks and tacking on inferior, later period songs. It wasn’t until the reissue campaign began in 2000 that I was able to listen to the Associates in any meaningful way. The 1st three records (The Affectionate Punch (original & remix album), Fourth Drawer Down, Sulk) are the sound of a band firing on all cylinders. Lyrically and musically, it all sounds perfectly contained and on the edge of collapse. Club Country is the 2nd single to be taken from Sulk and whilst seemingly celebrating the club scene of the early 80’s, closer inspection reveals it be a damning admonishment of the New Romantic era. The bass line drives the song, complimenting the operatic shrieks emanating from Billy Mackenzine. A man possessed, and for a short time – on top of the world. “Alive and kicking at the Country Club / We’re old and sickening at the Country Club”