Monday, May 21, 2001

Megadeth - The World Needs A Hero

Megadeth: quite possibly the only Metal act that hasn't chopped their locks, gone acoustic or sold their souls for a hit. Last year, Dave Mustaine and the boys closed the book on their Capitol Records tenure with Capitol Punishment: The Megadeth Years. The mystery of what was in their future wasn't too shrouded. During their tour for 1999's Risk album they found a renewed energy and it carried over to The World Needs A Hero.

I've never been a big fan of Megadeth's blistering guitar-work but they found a way to change my mind. The album starts with what will be a live staple if not a radio hit "Disconnect." The lyrics alone trapped me but the guitar solos had me hypnotized. "1000 Time Goodbye" is your classic painful relationship coming to an end via a phone call to which anyone can relate. I'll note the interesting use of sampling a very cold phone dumping but they don't acknowledge the female voice in the credits. They use a subtler sample in the title track which also goes uncredited. "Burning Bridges" stands out as my favorite on the disc due to it's drums and a great vocal performance by Mustaine. "Moto Psycho" is great driving music. Lyrically, I have to say this is one of the best albums Megadeth has issued.

So Megadeth's Sanctuary Records debut is by no other word explosive. This isn't a band that is going to be happy with only one greatest hits album out there. And if they keep writing great songs like these to record, they won't have to.

Friday, May 18, 2001

Depeche Mode - Exciter

A few Depeche Mode fans were left wondering what happened on their last album 1997's Ultra. But as many transitions go (Alan Wilder's departure), some things will change. And when you name your band after a French magazine meaning fast fashion, fashions are fickle and change constantly.

Probably the worst thing you can do before an album comes out is to listen to a bunch of samples online. Which left me entirely unimpressed. Even the first single "Dream On" sounded like "Personal Jesus." But after paying more attention, "Dream On" is a great fusion of acoustic guitar and keyboard programming that matches the dark undertow of the lyrics. "Freelove" is a personal favorite possibly due to the lines 'no hidden catch, no strings attached... just free love.' While "I Am You" is an observation in closeness, "When The Body Speaks" beautifully mesmerizes with a yearning and "The Dead Of Night" is a dark romp through the male libido. Throughout, Dave Gahan's vocals are the best they've ever been. The production is brilliant and writing impressive.

Yes, for an album with a lot of reflection on relationships, it's hard to call this album exciting let alone Exciter. But, it's just a title on a package of great songs. The band has gone back to throwing a few instrumental breaks in but as we all know they are transitions to greater things. And that's where I see Ultra... it was the transition to Exciter for a band that is all about change.

The Go-Go's - God Bless The Go-Go's

Probably the biggest surprise this year was the release of the first new studio album by The Go-Go's in 17 years. A band that musically had everything going for it but each went their own way only to reunite once every so many years to play live and disappear again. Would the magic be there? How will they sound?

This album is pure caffeinated energy. God Bless The Go-Go's opens up with the guitar assault of "La La Land" and the appropriate announcement 'Hello world! We're here again!' Co-written with Green Day's Billy Joe Armstrong (who also adds a little guitar on the track,) the first single "Unforgiven" is evidence to that. "Here You Are" and "Daisy Chain" are possibly the closest to ballads you will get. "Vision Of Nowness" shows off the ladies vocal harmonies. Vague enough to let you insert your own frustrating relationship, "Automatic Rainy Day" would make a great single on it's own. "Throw Me A Curve," "Kissing Asphalt" and "Talking Myself Down" are also strong tracks.

Possibly the best thing to see on this album is that everyone contributed to writing somewhere which shows how much of a band effort this was. At a time when female rock acts are few or are just vocal groups, The Go-Go's have returned to show us why they won't be forgotten. God Bless The Go-Go's!