So what’s going on this week in music? Maroon 5 released a new single with Kendrick Lamar, Depeche Mode dropped exciting news, and Gorillaz get more and more cryptic about their new album. See what else is on my mind this week on the latest On the Radar.
Last month, Depeche Mode started posting cryptic images on their social media accounts with the captain “Coming soon.” Many, myself included, hoped it was a new album on the horizon. It wasn’t. It was just a video collection. Still cool, but not as exciting. But apparently, Depeche Mode had something else up their sleeve. This week they held a conference in Milan to announce the release of their new album, Spirit, in 2017. Cue my fangirl screams. Finally, we get some new music from this amazing band! It was starting to feel a little lonely without them.
During the conference, frontman Dave Gahan said “We’re working on the album with a new team: it’s produced by James Ford [of Simian Mobile Disco], and he’s helped us to make what we feel is a very incredible sounding record,” said Depeche Mode singer Dave Gahan. “He was able to really guide us.” They also announced a European tour starting in May, which means American dates are soon to follow. Believe it or not, this will be Depeche Mode’s fourteenth album. What impresses me so much about the band is how scarily good their later content is.
Usually, when a band hits double digits in terms of releasing music, it doesn’t stand up to their earlier releases. The magic is gone, songs are forgettable, or they’re pulling out the same old tricks. Depeche Mode is different. They consistently make good music. Their 2013 LP Delta Machine was stellar and could easily fall in line with the likes of Music for the Masses and Black Celebration. It’s clear they’re good at what they do and love it. Hopefully, Spirit will be just as amazing or even more. Now time to wait impatiently for the first single.
Oh, Maroon 5. I remember when I used to love you. For the record, I still like Maroon 5, but not as much as I used to. When they dropped their debut Songs About Jane in, 2002 I was all over that album. I played it non-stop and still know all the words to every song. But somewhere around It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, I began to lose interest. I kept trying to like them and fervently devoured every album. When it came to Overexposed, I gave up. This wasn’t the Maroon 5 I knew. This was hot douche bag Adam Levine plus the other guys.
I could no longer stand seeing Levine’s face, but that’s not the only reason why I fell out of love with Maroon 5. The music wasn’t the same. It started following all the trends, sounding like everything else on the radio, and just forgettable. Granted, the band still knows how to make irresistible singles. As much as I tried, I couldn’t not listen to “One More Night” or “Animals.” They’re those songs that get stuck in your head and stay there longer than you desire. So Maroon 5 are still a good singles band even if their albums don’t have much substance.
That being said, the band released a new single this week titled “Don’t Wanna Know” featuring Kendrick Lamar. And it’s okay. Just like their previous singles, it has a certain catchiness to it. But for me, it doesn’t really do anything. I can stand to listen to it, but it’s one of those songs I instantly forget after it stops playing. And the video? I think the Pokemon Go craze is officially over; seems like the band didn’t get the message. When Maroon 5 ultimately release their next album, I’ll listen to it, but I probably won’t like it.
The past few months have been buzzing with updates on the future Gorillaz album. We don’t have any details, like a date or title, but we know it’s happening with confirmation from Damon Albarn and animator Jamie Hewlett. And it seems the band is enjoying the hell out of teasing their fans. Over the past couple weeks, they’ve uploaded short digital novels focusing on various band members. First, there was The Book of Noodle, followed by The Book of Russell. Both act mini-bios for the members, but it makes you wonder just what the band is up to.
The future of Gorillaz seemed shaky for a while. With various commitment and other projects on the horizon, there was even talk of the band coming to an end. This seemed like a bigger possibility when Albarn released his solo album, Everyday Robots, in 2014. In 2015, Albarn revealed he started working on music for a new Gorillaz and since then we’ve been waiting to actually hear something. The fact that we haven’t gotten one snippet of music, yet we keep getting odd origin stories gives the whole thing an air of mystery. It makes sense because the Gorillaz themselves are strange and mysterious. But with all this build up, it better be good. Hopefully, it doesn’t suffer from exaggerated hype, which can affect even great albums. For now, it’s safe to say be on the lookout for a digital book on 2-D or Murdoc next.
Antichrist Superstar anniversary
Last week on October 8th, Marilyn Manson’s groundbreaking album, Antichrist Superstar celebrated its 20th anniversary. Though Manson released their debut album, Portrait of an American Family, in 1994, it was this LP that made him America’s number one enemy. At the time, I was pretty young, so Manson wasn’t a concern of mine. I even said he was freaky when I found my brother’s cassette of Mechanical Animals. When I turned 13, I became a fan and this is still my favorite album of theirs. It was like nothing else at the time. Manson had the balls to tell us everything that was wrong with our society. And he never shied away from topics like religion or politics. Instead, he tackled them head on slinging criticisms left and right.
The album shows Manson at their best and most aggressive. Tracks like “Dried Up, Tied and Dead to the World” and “Cryptorchid” had music and indistinguishable sounds that frightened you. Hell, the latter song still freaks me out. But it’s also an album that makes you think and asks questions about our society. The scariest thing about the record is how Manson’s commentary is still relevant 20 years later. Take a look at the track “1996” and see how much of it still applies.
Antichrist Superstar introduced the world to the fire and fury that is Marilyn Manson. The band actually scared parents all over. It got so bad that schools began banning Manson shirts from school. But it didn’t deter the fans; it only encouraged them. If anything, it shows how powerful music and its message can be. Manson has released great albums since then, but this will always be their masterpiece.
30 Days, 30 Songs
No matter how hard you try, you can’t avoid the upcoming election. Even if you don’t actively follow the news or watch the debates, you end up hearing the stupid things Trump says or the next Clinton scandal. At this point, everyone is sick of it. Yeah, both candidates are problematic and unlikable, but the thought of a Trump America is scary. Musicians know this too and are taking a stand.
A group of artists have joined forces for the independent campaign, 30 Days, 30 Songs.
What do they want? A “Trump free America.” Organized by Dave Eggers and Jordan Kurland, the group is releasing anti-Trump over the next 30 days. So far, we’ve gotten tracks from Death Cab for Cutie, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Aimee Mann, and Bhi Bhiman. This week, Franz Ferdinand released their contribution titled “Demagogue.”
On the song, frontman Alex Kapranos sings “Those pussy-grabbing fingers won’t let go of me now.” Kapranos makes several references to Trump discussing everything from bankruptcy and tiny hands to his misogynistic views. Take a listen for yourself.
It’s clear this campaign wants to make a difference. These artists hope to help voters realize why Trump is not the right choice. It’s a great reminder of the power music holds. And with these songs, maybe we can actually make a difference. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the music that comes from this campaign.