1.03.2014

2013 in 10 albums, 10-ish songs and a handful of reissues

2013. What a year, right?

It kind of petered out towards the middle before kicking back into high gear during the final six weeks or so, there were far too many blockbuster albums that YOU MUST HEAR RIGHT NOW that weren't actually all that good, and it did bring us that fucking Daft Punk song, but overall it was pretty solid.

Solid? It was pretty fucking great, and - here's a shocker to exactly no one paying attention - the Breeders owned it with their year-long LSXX celebration.

But there was new music, too. Here are ten albums that tickled my fancy during the past twelve months.


10. Suede - Bloodsports.

I was initially Not Impressed by the sixth Suede longplayer that should not exist, but once you get over the idea that this is the sound of Brett "getting his demons back" (these are some pretty tame demons if that's the case) or that this is supposed to be some amazing mutant hybrid of 'Dog Man Star' and 'Coming Up' - it has moments that approach both but nothing that quite makes it, certainly to 'Coming Up' pop-trash status  - this is actually quite good. If this had come out in place of 'A New Morning' in 2002 as the sound of Suede going "back to basics", no one would have thought twice about it. As it stands, I still want to hear the album that "Attitude" and "Love The Way You Love" teased, but this is a reasonable substitute.

Key tracks: "Snowblind", "Always", "It Starts And Ends With You"


09. Cian Ciarán - They Are Nothing Without Us

SFA's electronics wizards picks up a guitar, gets angry and makes a racket about it. Mostly. The supposed noisy counterpart to 2012's more subdued 'Outside In' gets a little sleepy halfway through, but it's never less than fascinating. If we can't have a proper SFA album, at least we're getting gems like this.

Key tracks: "5c Cotton 40c Beef", "Sewn Up"



08. Bright Light Bright Light - In Your Care EP

Impossibly charming Rod Thomas tides us over until the second proper Bright Light Bright Light LP with a quartet of delicious heart-on-sleeve pop-synth songs he does so well. 

Key tracks: "In Your Care", "An Open Heart"






07. Big Black Delta - Big Black Delta

This is kind of cheating since the core of this was on my 2011 list in its 'BBDLP1' incarnation, but the way that Jonathan Bates makes it look so easy putting everyone else to shame earns it a place here as well. Slightly touched up, track list re-jigged to fit some newly recorded tunes, this is a rare case of an album expansion not diluting its impact.

Key (new) tracks: "Money Rain Down", "X22"



06. Annie - The A&R EP

Another EP? Cheater!

But.

It's Annie and Richard X, so duh. And they didn't even put the best track - the Little Boots-penned "Tube Stops and Lonely Hearts" - on it! (Bonus points for the garish artwork, used to fantastic effect on the 12" picture disc format.)


Key tracks: "Invisible", "Back Together"


05. John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts

More of a sort of post-relationship bloodletting than an album per se, John Grant's second solo album isn't an easy listen but it's certainly an emotionally rewarding one. The lyrics get a bit clunky in places - and a lame attempt at a four-to-the-floor backbeat behind a terrible vocal delivery, including a horrific mis-pronunciation of "Wagner", completely sinks "Sensitive New Age Guy" - but his heart-on-sleeve earnestness covers for that most of the time. Side note: it's great to have Biggi back delivering some fantastic straight-offa-'Polydistortion'-and/or-'This Is Normal' backing tracks here. If we're going to be honest, it's what brought me to this record in the first place.

Key tracks: "Pale Green Ghost", "Blackbelt", "Why Don't You Love Me Anymore"


04. The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law

It's no 'The Big Roar' and there's no "Whirring" - though "Bats" comes pretty damn close, despite the lack of an epic back-half - so let's get that out of the way. That said, this doesn't stop the second Joy Formidable album from being an absolute triumph. More refined than the debut and almost distractingly obsessed with nature, especially in the second half, 'Wolf's Law' is the sound of a band settling into themselves and strapping in for the long haul. I can't wait to hear what comes next.

Key tracks: "Bats", "Cholla"...did I mention "Bats"? Because it's really fucking good.



So, "Bats" then.


03. Little Boots - Nocturnes

Definitely a grower more than a shower, Victoria's self-proclaimed "dark disco" album takes time - and, perhaps, a live show or two - to reveal itself, but once it sinks its claws in its there to stay. The Big Pop moments of 'Hands' are all but gone, replaced by sweeping soundscapes, making it all a bit impenetrable at first, but repeated listens reveal more goings on until it won't leave your head. As with Annie, she left the best track off - what, no "Headphones"? - but it actually makes sense here as the joyous bounce of said single is a little out of place with the 10 tracks here.

Key tracks: "Broken Record", "Crescendo"


02. VV Brown - Samson & Delilah

In which VV Brown comes out of nowhere and convincingly pulls off the greatest artist reinvention in years, all while making the album that is everything that These New Puritans' 'Field of Reeds' was supposed to be but just wasn't. 

One word: WOW.

Key tracks: "Igneous", "Samson"


01. Primal Scream - More Light

Don't count Bobby out. After a series of fine if not wholly spectacular records following 2000's mighty 'XTRMNTR', the Scream Team regroups and delivers what is probably the ultimate Primal Scream album. They pull from all of the sounds they've tried on in the past and meld them into one glorious, overreaching whole. From the nightmare horns that open "2013" to the seemingly-lazy-but-ultimately-redemption-filled 'Screamadelica' pastiche of "It's Alright, It's OK", 'More Light' is fucking glorious.

Key tracks: "Invisible City", "2013", "Turn Each Other Inside Out"

Songs:

10. Kim Deal - Hot Shot / R. Ring - Salt




(YouTube only has a live version of the latter, but it makes it even more fantastic.)

09. Primal Scream - Invisible City



08. Big Black Delta - Money Rain Down / X22




07. Bright Light Bright Light - In Your Care



06. Little Boots - Broken Record (Nocturnal Version)



05. Annie - Tube Stops & Lonely Hearts



04. The Joy Formidable - Bats



(The studio version is already above, so here's a live version from the UK. Sadly, it didn't survive the trip over the ocean and the US was denied "Bats" in the live setting.)

03. Emiliana Torrini & Steve Mason - I Go Out



02. Mutya Keisha Siobhan - Flatline



01. The Hidden Cameras - Gay Goth Scene



(Duh.)

Some reissues:

The Breeders - LSXX. 
What it has: 'Last Splash' plus the four associated EPs. (I've always lumped 'Safari' in with 'Pod' but now it's officially part of the 'Last Splash'-era.) The (almost) full set the fanclub 'Live at Stockholm' disc was sourced from. (Where's "No Aloha"?) A set of demos and a set of radio sessions. The vinyl box is pure record porn.
What it doesn't have: "No Aloha" live from Stockholm and a cleaned up demo of "Go Man Go". Other than that, if you're unhappy with this you may as well give up on life because there's no hope for you.

The Monkees - The Monkees Present (Rhino Handmade Edition).
What it has: As with the other Rhino Handmade Monkees boxes, we've got 3 discs dedicated to their eighth LP. The first disc is dedicated to the main album plus stereo outtakes and alternate versions, the second focuses on period mono mixes and outtakes, and the third is a bit of a grabbag for what else was going on in Monkees land during the time period. Far more dedicated to the album than it probably actually deserves, but good for Rhino for giving the fans exactly what they've been asking for.
What it doesn't have: Frankly, I have no idea. I can't imagine wanting any more from the Monkees - at least, post-Peter Tork Monkees - than we've been given with this and the 'Instant Replay' set, though I'm sure there's some long lost take or song that's still not on one of these sets.

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult - El Infierno: Songs from the Original 1989 "Inferno Xpress Tour"
What it has: A digital reissue of a previously fanclub only cassette release that featured seven tracks from the Kult's 1989 tour, where they mashed up their songs over backing tracks of disco hits. Theoretically it features a previously unreleased track in "Crime Xpress", but it eventually evolved into "Dope Doll Jungle" off of 'A Crime For All Seasons'.
What it doesn't have: More songs from the tour. I imagine masters from which this was pulled are long gone, so this is probably all we're ever going to get. That said, more reissues of fanclub cassettes in this manner wouldn't be unwelcome.

Nirvana - In Utero 20th Anniversary Edition
What it has: Nirvana's third and final album, remastered - and, amazingly, not brickwalled to hell - by Steve Albini, plus period b-sides and compilation tracks (some newly remixed yet again) on disc 1. Disc 2 has a brand new 2013 re-imaging of the album by Albini, Dave and Krist, plus a handful of demos.
What it doesn't have: The original mixes of some of the b-sides, leaving the proper version of "I Hate Myself And Want To Die" still stranded on the 'Beavis and Butthead Experience' disc. The new mix, while an interesting listen, takes up space that could have been used for more demos and rehearsal jams. That said, it's a hell of a lot better than the 'Nevermind' set, so we'll take it.

The Smashing Pumpkins - The Aeroplane Flies High
What it has: The CD set retains each EP on its own disc, each expanded with a themed set of extras: 'Bullet' has highlights from the Gravity Demos set, '1979' gets a selection of home demos and alternate mixes including the much sought after "Star Song", 'Zero' features rehearsal tracks from the famous Double Door shows while 'Tonight Tonight' has songs from the shows themselves, and 'Thirty-Three' showcases the 34+ minute journey through "Silverfuck" from Jimmy's final show on the 'Infinite Sadness' tour. (Historically important but not terribly fun to listen to.) There's also a sixth disc of highlights from throughout the 'Infinite Sadness' tour as well as a DVD featuring a live performance from 1997. Honestly, it's everything the 'Mellon Collie' reissue wasn't, and if you walk away from this set still wanting more from the time period you're insane. There's also a prohibitively expensive 5x12" box featuring just the EPs, many of the songs on vinyl for the first time.
What it doesn't have: The original artwork, I suppose, and there's still the matter of a full Double Door show that surely must exist in some sort of releasable quality. That said, we've now got 11 CDs and 2 DVDs dedicated to one album over the two reissues plus all sorts of demo sets that Billy has leaked out over the years, so just let it rest already.

Suede - The Vinyl Box
What it has: The six Suede albums - including 'A New Morning' on LP for the first time, which exactly no one asked for - plus, more interestingly, the vinyl debut of 'Sci-Fi Lullabies' in a nice box with yet another set of song notes from Brett. You had to know this was coming.
What it doesn't have: Nothing, really. It delivers exactly what it says on the package. It was a nice way to get us to re-buy 'Bloodsports' again so soon, though.

Tears For Fears - The Hurting 3xCD/DVD
What it has: 'The Hurting' remastered and sounding quite lovely on disc 1. A disc of b-sides and 7"/12" mixes. A (somewhat slight) disc of radio sessions and live tracks. A DVD featuring the digital debut of the 'In My Mind's Eye' home video. All of this plus fantastic liner notes and a recreation of the tour's program all in a nice box.
What it doesn't have: "Saxophones As Opiates" as per the bands request, and some of the mixes are apparently labeled incorrectly. Not surprising, given how many times some of these songs were released as singles. By no means comprehensive, but as far as a period overview it's hard to walk away disappointed.

Speaking of disappointments...

The Pet Shop Boys album isn't that great, stop going on about it or they're not going to try hard again. (That said, "Bolshy" is great, but I have to hear "Vocal" every tour now I am not going to be happy.) Even worse is the snorefest of the These New Puritans record. I had hope the return of Nine Inch Nails might be worthwhile but that certainly didn't happen. And ZZ Top remixed Depeche Mode, signaling the end that has long been forecasted. That we're still waiting on the second La Roux album, especially after a little bit of action in early 2013, is immensely frustrating. Speaking of getting on with it already, how has the Mutya Keisha Siobhan reunion resulted in exactly one proper single over the course of...2 years? Three? Let's have it, ladies. 

Anyways, that's that. 2014, you've got a lot to live up to.

1.02.2014

12.20.2013

glorious

The 'Last Splash'-era Breeders line-up in 2013 is as improbable as sex after marriage.

That's how the quote goes, right?

Right?

Anyways, here we are and here they are, on the final leg of a year-long global tour celebrating an album that clogs up every dollar bin in every remaining record store on said globe. The mere idea would have been absurd just over 12 months ago - frankly, it still kind of is - but if we've learned anything over these past 20 years, it's this: never count Kim Deal out.

So on this third round of shows in New York City over 9 months, KelleyKimJosephineJim(andCarrie) have brought some new tricks. 'Last Splash' - from opening chimes of "New Year" to the final feedback squall of "Roi (Reprise)" - still leads the proceedings and it's still fucking glorious.

It's important not to gloss over this, as the tour has dulled the excitement just a tad. All fifteen songs are here and we still love every note. The start of "New Year" will always send chills down my spine; I will never, ever, EVER tire of "Cannonball" - twenty years worth of listens later it's still a thrill, conventional fan-wisdom that the overplayed hit is no good be damned; "Do You Love Me Now?" with KelleyKimCarrie harmonies melts hearts; "I Just Wanna Get Along" should still be played twice in a row. The two highlights remain, though: "Mad Lucas" is impossibly delicate and gorgeous and mother.fucking. "Roi". Three letters, so simple, so powerful.

Anyways, "Glorious" you say? 'Pod' has come along for the ride this time. "We have another record, it's like 20 minutes long. It's called 'Pod'. We're going to play it."

"Da da da da da da da." I knew it was coming, but nothing could prepare for it actually happening. "Glorious" is just that, and we're off. Eight shows and eleven years later, I finally get "Doe" and it is worth the wait and then some. "Happiness is a Warm Gun" and "Oh!" return from the earlier legs - again, not to understate this as it's the Breeders with Carrie playing "Oh!" - but then we get on to some newbies. I last heard "Hellbound" on the 2002 tour and it's a welcome, rockin' return. I've never heard "When I Was A Painter" live and it's done a little slow, but we'll forgive 'em. "Fortunately Gone" always seems pretty but slight, though "Iris" is a fucking beast tonight: Kim wailing at the top of her lungs and Jo and Kelley making an unholy racket behind her. Honestly it's never been a favorite on the album but tonight it's a massive impact and begins a final run of pure joy.

Next: "Opened". "Opened". "OPENED". There are no words. "Only in 3's" is also a little slow but we'll still forgive 'em. "Lime House" returns from the earlier leg and it's still absolutely wonderful.

And now: motherfucking "Metal Man". It was a totally left-field surprise in 2009, but even seeing it coming 12 songs away tonight it still bowls one over, especially that 15 seconds where it gets all loud and shit.

Did I mention balloons?



They leave again, but come back for one more treat: "Walking With A Killer". Introduced as a new song, it adds fuel to the "new album from this line up coming in 2014" rumor that can easily be written off as fan wishful thinking, but then again maybe not. It is absolutely lovely. 

And then they're gone. As before, they seem as surprised as we are that they can pull this off, and the thank yous and appreciation pours out of them all night. All five linger near the front of the stage before walking off, shaking hands and giving out picks and set lists and handshakes, soaking us in as much as we're soaking them in.

...and I get to do it all again tonight.

The Breeders: LSXX & PodXXIII at Webster Hall, December 19th 2013:

'Last Splash':
New Year / Cannonball / Invisible Man / No Aloha / Roi / Do You Love Me Now? / Flipside / I Just Wanna Get Along / Mad Lucas / Divine Hammer / S.O.S. / Hag / Saints / Drivin' on 9 / Roi (Reprise)

'Pod':
Glorious / Doe / Happiness is a Warm Gun / Oh! / Hellbound / When I Was A Painter / Fortunately Gone / Iris / Opened / Only in 3's / Lime House / Metal Man

Encore:
Walking With A Killer

6.01.2013

and now for a band I don't just like, I love...

...Cibo Matto!

2013, the year that keeps on giving, came close to topping even itself last night with the second of two small preview shows for the long-talked-about-and-now-perhaps-actually-happening third Cibo Matto album.

Having had to miss the 2011 reunion tour, I was more than ready to finally get my chance to catch them in action when Miho and Yuka took to the stage of the Littlefield around 10:10 Friday night. The crowd, as they should, greeted them with a huge cheer and rapturous applause, which only got more intense when they launched right into "Le Pain Perdu". Thirty seconds in and the whole room is swaying along with an energy that it takes most bands a solid half of a set to whip up, and as we're shouting along "gotta get out, get out, the hell out", all I can think is: yeah, this is going to be good.

And next? "Sugar Water". Wasting no time, I see. You almost never seen it mentioned without its wonderful video - see? - but it stands on its own as one of the finest singles of the 90's and tonight it is absolutely blissful.

They invite Tim Ellis and Yuko Araki out to join them and we're on to our first new song of the night. Sort of. "Tenth Floor Ghost Girl" has been appearing on set lists since the start of the reunion, but it's new to me and it is wonderful. Beforehand, we get some fantastic stage banter from Miho, including her explaining that the new album has a lot of songs about ghosts. Not as many about food. They thought they'd try a change in direction.

Bless.

This goes right into "Working for Vacation" - a favorite of mine from 'Stereo-Type A' which I am more than happy to hear - and then we're back into new song territory with four in a row. I remember "Another Tuesday" as a bit more laid back - not "Sugar Water" laid back, but certainly not "Birthday Cake" manic - "Check In" has also been around since 2011 and IS "Birthday Cake" manic, there's another new one whose name I miss, and then my favorite new song of the night wraps it up. Called "Motherfucking Nature" - or "MFN" as Miho also introduces it - it's a crazy rap along the lines of "Sci-Fi Wasabi" and contains the chorus:

Don't tell me: "what the hell?", I'm a ghost!
Don't throw the fucking oyster shell at me!

Incredible.

And what of "Sci-Fi Wasabi"? It comes next in a fantastic stripped back version, mostly beats/bass/drums with very little of the layers of effects that are on the album version. It, of course, features Miho slightly altering the lyrics to "Cibo Matto TWENTY THIRTEEN!" with a sly wink to the crowd and a shoutback chorus when appropriate. ("There's a hole on Broadway" - "BROADWAY!", etc.)

"Birthday Cake" is it's crazy old self; absolutely out. of. control. We're sad to see them leave the stage so soon - though really, what could possibly follow that? - but we're not letting them off that easy. Immediate shouts of "ENCORE!" turn into a crowd-led sing along of "Know Your Chicken" as we wait for their return...

...and return they do, treating us to a gorgeous "Moonchild" which melts into a face-melting 70's soul version of "Know Your Chicken". (Think "Know Your Chicken" sung over a remix of "Moonchild" and you'll be close.) I'm slightly disappointed it's not an all-out mental thrash through the EP version like "Birthday Cake" was, but this new mix is just as good in a different way and it's hard to be anything but thrilled to be a part of this special show.

The end has come too soon and they're really done this time, but they mention they'll be at the merch table on the way out so come say hi. I could't, could I?


I guess I could. Absolutely lovely, the pair, and a bit of a high school dream come true.

Set list:
Le Pain Perdu
Sugar Water
Tenth Floor Ghost Girl
Working For Vacation
Another Tuesday
Check It
(new)
Motherfucking Nature
Sci-Fi Wasabi
Birthday Cake
-
Moonchild
Know Your Chicken

5.06.2013

we don't want no gay goth scene in this house...

...except we do.

Nine-and-a-half years or so later, The Hidden Cameras are finally ready to unleash "No Gay Goth Scene" - now shortened in title to "Gay Goth Scene" - upon the world. 


A live favorite for the band and fans since the tour for 'The Smell of Our Own' - if not before - this one has somehow managed to avoid being captured for record for nearly a decade. Today - the 10th anniversary of the release of 'The Smell of Our Own' in the US if you're keeping track at home - the band posted this on their various social media pages:


--


WE DON’T WANT NO GAY GOTH SCENE IN THIS HOUSE

The first glimpse of the new record is in sight. “Gay Goth Scene” - already known to live audiences – will be previewed first as a short film. Toronto fans will get the chance to preview the new single from the forthcoming album Age (set for release in the fall of 2013) this month at Inside Out LGBT Film Festival. The video was directed by Kai Stänicke and shot in Berlin last winter. More information coming soon.


--


2013 has already continually delivered the goods musically, but this one might take the cake...perhaps even above 'LSXX'.


Well, maybe not.


...but maybe. They're at least tied.

3.30.2013

we have come for light

"Hi. We're going to play 'Last Splash' for you."

This is what Kim Deal says as she takes the stage of the Bell House in Brookyln last night, as if it's just another gig on just another Friday night.

It is, of course, a very special gig on a very special Friday night. Joining her on stage is the rest of the "classic" line up of the Breeders. Josephine Wiggs to her immediate left and Kelley to hers, Carrie Bradley on Kim's right and Jim MacPherson behind the drums. This is only the second public performance of this line up in almost 18 years - the first being two nights earlier in Kentucky - brought back together to celebrate 20 years of 'Last Splash'. This is a Big - *ahem* - Deal.

Except, in typical Breeders fashion, it's not. The line up that should not exist - between the drugs and the fights and the alcohol and more drugs and more line up changes and losing touch for decades and whatever else they've been through over the years - except somehow it does.

The opening chimes of "New Year" suggest that we're in for a glorified rehearsal - which, if you've seen the band before, is the feeling all of their gigs give, and I mean that in a very good way. It's a bit unsure, Kim's vocals aren't high enough in the mix, and there's a palpable nervousness coming from the stage. However, when the song kicks into high gear a third of the way through, all of that is gone and they are fucking KILLING it and the audience is eating it up, shouting along to each and every word. The song ends and we erupt into a cheer usually saved for after the Big Single - which we all know is coming next - but we can't help ourselves. We're actually here, actually seeing the Breeders actually play 'Last Splash' start to finish - and, it must be said, doing better than they ever did the first time around.

And it continues. Say what you will about overexposure or whatever - and I've gone over that before - but "Cannonball" still SLAYS and is an absolute monster with this crowd. Next up, "Invisible Man", at which point my friend Steve leans over to me and says: "Holy shit, I can't believe they're actually playing it start to finish." But oh yes, they are.

"Invisible Man" is noticeably slower than on album - it wasn't exactly a set regular back in the day so probably required a bit more re-learning than some of the others on the album - but it's still amazing to hear. They've even brought the chimes for the end except Jim misses his cue, causing Kim to tell us the first of many stories of the night about how they brought these chimes all the way from San Francisco so Jim could do the interlude and he missed it so let's give him another chance. He takes a dramatic swoop of the chimes and the room explodes. Yes, they have us eating out of the palm of their hands and we know it, but no one cares. We still can't believe we're actually seeing this.

"No Aloha" is next and it may as well be "Cannonball" again with the massive reception it gets. And now, my moment - "Roi". It does. not. disappoint. 

But wait. We notice Josephine is getting behind the kit and Jim has a bass strapped on. What's going on? "Josephine plays drums on the record for this so she has to tonight." I feel like somewhere I knew that but had forgotten it over the years, but it's a total treat to watch Jim out from behind the kit play the bass for "Roi". There's also a story about a mini-Moog that didn't travel well and how Jim is now playing the replacement "mini-Moog" - in quotes, I think suggesting the bass is being processed to sound like one? I'm not really sure what was going on. Oh, and Carrie is playing violin again on this one, doing the chug chug parts at the end of the song on it. Yes. It works. Kelley is thrashing her guitar like a madwoman and I'm in heaven. "Roi" has always been #1 on my wishlist for a Breeders show, and now I've gotten it and it alone is worth the ticket price.

"OK, OK. 'If I saw..'" (hysterical laughter). Whoops, they messed up the beginning of "Do You Love Me Now?" No one cares. There's a lot of onstage discussion to get the cues right, and when they do they nail it. 

"This is the last song on the first side. It's called 'Flipside'." (giggles) It's a bit slow - which is odd, because during the 2002 tour it felt like they were trying to play it as fast as they possibly could just to see if they could do it. Slightly disappointing, but hardly soul crushing.

"Kelley sings this one." Yes. Yes. YES. Another obvious crowd favorite, "I Just Wanna Get Along" come and goes too quickly. 

Next, the moment of truth - what are they going to do with "Mad Lucas"? On record it's all about the texture and atmosphere - and, let's be honest, a bit slow and go-nowhere for a live set - and friend Nick and I had had lengthy discussion about how we were very, very curious to see how it translates live. (Had they ever done it before this tour? I don't think they had.) 

No worries, though - it is fucking GORGEOUS. Carrie played a CRAZY violin to do that scraggling guitar line that goes through the whole song, and the whole thing is just a thing of beauty. It also gives us the best crowd interaction of the night, when halfway through and everything drops out but Josephine's bass for a solid 20 seconds, part of the crowd starts to hoot and holler like the song is over - suggesting that perhaps not everyone there is as intimately familiar with the album as at first suggested - and Josephine shoots a look out into the crowd and gives a hand motion to cut it out, it's not over. Amazingly, it everyone's in a reverential hush for the rest of the song. "Roi" was the one I was waiting for, but "Mad Lucas" was the revelation and possible highlight of the night. Yes, I said it - three cheers for "Mad Lucas". (It does also contain my favorite line of the whole album - "You're a nuisance, and I don't. like. dirt.")

Big Single #2 next - "Divine Hammer", as always, is divine. The second biggest surprise of the night, though, is "S.O.S." which is just a beast. Any hesitation that might have caused them to play "Flipside" a bit slow is gone and this one threatens to get away from them multiple times, but they always manage to hang on. Completely unexpected, but WOW.

Carrie plays some sort of weird interlude/bridge ambient thing on her keyboard as the band get ready for "Hag", the tempo of which suggests that this one is going to be brought down a notch as well. However, Jim clicks in and it's played proper speed and it is wonderful. For the first time of the night, they instantly transition to the next one, and Kelley let's the opening riff of "Saints" fly. The room, of course, explodes once again and it is beyond glorious.

As they're getting ready for the next one, Kelley says something about how the show sold out, like, super fast and thanks us for coming. Someone in the crowd shouts: "THANK YOU FOR DOING THIS" and everyone goes NUTS. There's a definite pause on stage as everyone takes the adoration in. It's a very touching moment and even though it's been apparent all night, it's now very clear that this is a very special tour - a gift from the band to us, but also a gift from us to the band by allowing them the ability to do it.

"Drivin On 9" comes up and we know the end is getting near. It's a bit somber tonight, Kim telling a story about how it was written by a friend of theirs that has passed, and you can see her singing it to him tonight. (Side note: somehow, "Drivin On 9" is one of the only songs they've done each and every time I've seen them.)

And then - oh, yes - "Roi (Reprise)". Josephine and Jim stay on their proper instruments this time and it's only 45 seconds or so, but it is the perfect ending to the set, just as it's a perfect ending to the album. A little wink to the crowd, a little thank you for coming. I really can't put it into words, but it's kind of everything.

They leave, we scream, they come back. Kim talks about the upcoming 'LSXX' reissue and says they're going to play some songs from it.

BAM! "Shocker in Gloomtown"!

BAM! "Head to Toe"! (It's SO nice to hear this one again, having been absent from the sets since 2002. And to hear Josephine KILL that bass line makes it even more of a treat.)

BAM! "Happiness is a Warm Gun"! (OK, not from 'LSXX' but very welcome. Kelley and Kim trade share vocal duties on this one, I forget if they've done that in previous tours.)

BAM! "Safari"!

"We're going to play some songs from 'Pod' now."

BAM! "Lime House"!

"A few more."

BAM! "Oh!" (I've gone on record saying that this is my least favorite Breeders song overall, but it is wonderful tonight.)

"One more."

BAM! "Don't. Call. Home!" I knew it was coming, but it still caught me off guard. A total blast with it's stop/start nature - a chance for the band to play with the crowd one more time. At the end, it's just a wall of sound as Kim shouts: "Don't! Even! WRITE!" and everything just stops.

Except, of course, our love for it. The room explodes one last time as Jim comes out from behind his kit and they take a group bow, soaking it all in. We love them, they love us, and they've just given us a performance for the books.

I'm determined to get a picture with Kelley to pair with my picture with her from 2002, so we watch the room. Jim and Josephine come out first but they're instantly engaged in conversation with people, so I don't want to be rude. As we walk around, I notice Kelley come out on to the stage with her coat and purse to grab another bag from the stage and sneak off behind the curtain, so it's probably not going to happen.

That's OK - Carrie is standing in the doorway. Something I forgot to mention - whenever she wasn't playing on stage, she was dancing along to the band as their biggest fan, and it was a total blast to watch. Steve goes: "I want to tell her how much I loved her dancing." I say: "Do it." He says: "You want to see me? OK." So we go over and he mentions to her how great he thought her dancing and the show was and we get in a bit of a conversation with her about the show. She mentions that the stage was a bit small and she had to hold back a bit, and I say well, the stage at Webster Hall (where they're playing in May) is bigger so she'll have room to really go for it. She says, OK, maybe, and I say well look, the show's on my birthday and I'm super excited to get to spend it with them, so she looks at me and says, OK, for you, I'll really go for it.

*melt*

Here's the thing - on a certain level, there are shows that define you, that feel like they were put on solely for you. Tour packages that you wouldn't dare put together in your wildest dreams because there's no way they could actually happen. For me, this is one of them. Until last night, my favorite show I had ever seen was the Breeders on the 'Title TK' tour in July of 2002 at Lee's Palace in Toronto. Hands down, don't even have to think about it. And while I could never pick an actual favorite Breeders album, 'Last Splash' is certainly the most special to me. So I went in with INSANE expectations for this show, fully expecting to have some of them deflated a little. Somehow, it was even better than I expected. A perfect storm of perfection. I could say: yeah, I wish they had done "Doe" or "Hoverin'" or whatever - and I do wish those things - but there was not a note wrong with anything we did get. Maybe they'll swap some encore stuff out for the main tour, maybe not. 

In any case, if you're even remotely a fan of this band or this record, you *need* to get to one of these shows. No questions. This is a Very Special Tour by a Very Special Band, a Very Special Gift to the fans. You will regret not going, this I promise you.

2.04.2013

hell

The new Depeche Mode single has been out there for about a week now, but today it's "officially" out there for your purchasing dollar.

Should you have a need for a rewrite of "Condemnation" but slowed down to half-speed and over-emoted twice has much, then do I have the single for you!

On the bright side, if you loved the last two Depeche Mode albums, this is going to be right up your alley.

If you're actually looking for the 'Violator' meets 'Songs of Faith of Devotion' they've been claiming this is, however, remember that supposedly 'Sounds of the Universe' was also 'Violator' meets 'Songs of Faith and Devotion' and we all know how that turned out.

This is garbage. Hang it up, boys.