Category Archives: music review
Gary Numan occupies an unique space within pop culture. The electronic music pioneer made his biggest dent on the mainstream back at the dawn of the ’80s with the synth-driven single “Cars.” It was a worldwide hit that topped singles charts here in Canada and his native UK, and remains the song by which most people known him, if they know him at all.
But a long fallow period followed Gary Numan’s early ’80s peak, one that arguably ended only with the dawn of the millennium, when he shifted musical gears to make darker, more industrial work. It was a move, cynics might say, designed to capitalize on revitalized interest in his work thanks in part to Nine Inch Nails main man Trent Reznor’s loud fandom. (Reznor has recorded a cover of Numan’s 1979 single “Metal,” and, in recent years, has brought his hero on stage with NIN to perform it and other of his songs live.)
But it is hard to believe it was nostalgia alone that allowed Numan, on tour to support his new album Savage, to sell out Toronto’s Opera House. Granted, many of the fans packed in front of the stage this past Friday night suffered from male pattern baldness (an observation made from the venue’s busy top balcony), indicating the age of their own fandom. But a significant proportion of the Numanoids in attendance were of both genders and were obviously born long after both ‘Cars’ and the ’80s. And while recent Numan tours have seen him milk nostaglia’s teat, performing early albums Telekon, The Pleasure Principle, and Replicas in their entirety, Numan here chose a set list that cannily balanced his recent catalogue with the classics.
Although they may have money, fame, and hordes of adoring fans, it must be tough to be an iconic rock and roll band. Every time they release a new batch of material, they run the risk of sounding either too much like their previous selves, or not enough. Worse still is being confronted with the dreaded “return to form” cliché.
For a band like Cheap Trick, it’s even dicier. To which “form” should they return? The sardonic hard rock of their debut? The bubblegum power pop of “Dream Police”? The AOR of “The Flame”? After over four decades in the biz, they’ve covered a lot of ground, so deciding which direction to take presents an ongoing quandary that I don’t envy.
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Best known as the bassist and guitarist of A Place To Bury Strangers for the last few years, Dion Lunadon was recently struck with a “neurotic impulse” to record a solo album. The result is a self-titled collection of 11 tracks.
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Each week, one of Biff Bam Pop’s illustrious writers will delve into one of their favorite things. Perhaps it’s a movie or album they’ve carried with them for years. Maybe it’s something new that moved them and they think might move you too. Each week, a new subject, a new voice writing on… something they love.
Melanie was more than just a neighbour. Born three days before me, she was like my (ever-so-slightly) older sister and we grew up together, involved in each other’s lives day in and day out.
We walked together, to and from school, through kindergarten and the elementary grades. Her parents were surrogates to my own. I’d have a bowl of Heinz Scarios for lunch at her house on some days and she’d have a mortadella panino at mine on others. On our street, we played “Hide and Seek” as a team, and she would give me nods and winks in games of Clue so that I could surmise Colonel Mustard, in the library, with the rope. We collected, and played with, G.I. Joe figures together: me with Duke and Snow Job, and her with Scarlet and Lady Jaye. She’d have my back in the odd fist fight in the school playground, and she’d help me pass anonymous Valentine’s Day notes to the girls of my affections in grades four and five. At her cottage we caught frogs together and went fishing off of the dock, then water-skiing, then roasting marshmallows on an open fire. Those days were full and fun days.
Although there was some inherent distance between each other after grade eight by attending different high schools, like all good older sisters, we’d still spend time together and she’d still share some of her discoveries with her “younger brother” when we did get together. One week at her cottage during the early summer of 1988, the summer before grade ten, she shared her newly discovered love for pop music by handing me, along with her Sony Walkman, a white cassette tape projecting the simple, powerful, black font words of: New Order Substance 1987. “Listen to this,” she commanded me. And, as an obedient by-three-days younger brother, I did.
That cassette tape would change my life.
In a year that might well be remembered for one of the worlds largest bands giving their album away for free – much to the chagrin of many music listeners, there’s was plenty of great music to get excited about.
Albums from Ryan Adams, U2, Taylor Swift, Beck, Foo Fighters and many others made the rounds on airwaves, speakers and ear buds in 2014. Still, some albums, some songs were more resilient, more beautiful, catchier and more…”top” than the others,
That’s what this list is for.
A list showcasing the Top 5 albums I heard this year, like I write every year. Here were the albums I played relentlessly. Are any of your favourites on it?