Home By The Sea

Genesis. Often unjustly maligned in the British press over the years. They've sold eleventy billion albums, and yet remain the most uncool of bands. But I like them, no I love them.

Their evolution from the Peter Gabriel led progressive rock band of the late 60s to the Phil Collins hit singles era is well documented. With Collins taking over vocal duties in 1976, they underwent a transformation, embracing a more streamlined and accessible sound. The 1980s saw Genesis reach new heights of commercial success with albums like "Abacab" and "Invisible Touch." Collins' distinct voice and the band's knack for catchy melodies resulted in chart-topping singles and sold-out stadium tours.

Their self-titled album from 1983 is often overlooked, which is a shame, because it contains quite possibly the best song they ever wrote. Home By The Sea is, quite frankly, a masterpiece. I love the atmosphere, the delivery, the production, and even the subject matter. A burglar breaks into a house, only to find it haunted, he's captured by the spirits who force him to sit and listen to their stories for the rest of his life.

I can't think of a better vocal performance by Collins in his career. I could listen to this song every day for the rest of my life and it would never fail to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

'Cause you won't get away
No, with us you will stay
For the rest of your days


As we relive our lives in what we tell you
Let us relive our lives in what we tell you

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The Things In My Ears…Less?

Last year I wrote about my new Sony headphones. Nice they were. Incredible sound quality, long lasting battery. Let's fast forward 15 months to right about now shall we. The right earbud will only charge to 90%. Never 100%, because why would it?

And today dear reader, I listen to a podcast for 35 minutes, the right earbud is at 11% and the left at 74%. I'm currently suffering through the chatbot troubleshooting steps so they can see if my "product requires servicing".

So that's fun.

UPDATE: well, a reset to factory defaults seems to have fixed it? Turns out we can have nice things!

UPDATE: well now, that aged poorly.

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Lady With The Spinning Head

I was listening to U2's Achtung Baby 30th anniversary edition recently. There are 50 tracks on that monster including b-sides and remixes. This track came on and I thought, this is a bit good.

I knew I'd never heard it before, and yet something about it was so very familiar. It was a bit maddening as I couldn't figure it out. The AHA moment came after reading this excerpt from The Edge:

There was a song called ‘Lady With the Spinning Head’ which we were really struggling with. It eventually ended up as a B-Side. But we tried and failed to develop it so many times. It actually spawned three different songs, “The Fly,” “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)” and “Zoo Station”. If you ever listen to “Lady With the Spinning Head” you will hear elements of all of those songs.

Yes, yes you do.


U2 – The Electric Co

Going back down the rabbit hole listening to the early U2 albums again. I've been playing Boy on repeat these last couple of days and I must admit have become all rather enamored with The Electric Co. It's quite rare for them to play this live these days, but they did in 2015 in Paris. Just so full of energy, this is great.


Depeche Mode – Construction Time Again

Can you believe that Depeche's Construction Time Again turned 40 this week?

The first Depeche album I ever owned was "The Singles 81->85" on vinyl. It's not an exaggeration to say that it changed my life forever. Every single song on that album is fantastic. But one song stood out head and shoulders from the others: Everything Counts. A song, to this day, that never fails to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. So, naturally, I wanted more of that and went looking for whatever album had that song.

You can make a solid case that Depeche Mode are one of the most influential bands electronic music has ever seen. They've left an indelible mark on the music industry with their innovative sound and thought-provoking lyrics. They've left a mark on me personally; they wrote the soundtrack to my youth. Among their impressive discography Construction stands out as a pivotal album that marked a real shift in their musical direction.

When you listen to their studio albums in order, you can hear this album is where everything changed. Construction marked a significant departure from Depeche Mode's earlier synth-pop sound, introducing a more industrial and experimental edge. The album's distinctive sound was partly influenced by the band's collaboration with producer Gareth Jones, who brought a fresh perspective to their creative process. Incorporating unconventional sounds like clanging metal and sampled industrial noises.

The great Synth Britannia documentary has a behind the scenes look at their use of samplers. I love that scene of Martin rolling the pebble along the track of a patio door. A sound that would be sampled and included on the song Pipeline.

The album paved the way for Depeche Mode's evolution into a band that was unafraid to tackle complex subject matter. The album's fusion of synth-pop sensibilities with industrial undertones influenced numerous artists and helped shape the trajectory of electronic music. When you listen to Ministry's Twitch, or even Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails you can't help but think they listened to Construction Time Again. A lot.

So Happy Birthday Construction Time Again, you hold a near and dear place in my heart. I'm going to listen to you again now. Loud.

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Depeche Mode – Momento Mori

Memento Mori

In January I mentioned I have a complicated relationship with Depeche. A new album had been announced, and once again we long time fans brace ourselves and hope for something moderately decent. The lead single Ghosts Again was released a month later, and good heavens it was magnificent! Could the new album actually be any good?

Memento Mori has arrived.

The first listen was nerve wracking. I only really liked two songs so decided to give it a few days of repeated listens for everything to sink in. After each listen I found there were more things I liked that time around. One night while loading the dishwasher I found myself humming one of the new tracks. A good sign.

So, five days in, is it any good? Yes it is. It's much better than Spirit and Delta Machine. And to be honest that's all I could have really hoped for. There's less bluesy guitar work this time around and the synths & strings used to great effect.

Tracks I like:

My Cosmos Is Mine
Wagging Tongue
My Favorite Stranger
People Are Good
Always You
Never Let Me Go

Tracks I love:

Before We Drown
Ghosts Again
Speak To Me

Tracks that make me go hmmm:

Don't Say You Love Me
Soul With Me
Caroline's Monkey

Before We Drown is majestic, and Speak To Me is the best album closer since Clean from Violator.

Depeche albums do take a while to fully sink in. I have to remind myself that some of their albums I consider classics I've listened to with the benefit of years of reinforcement. Of course the Alan Wilder years are long gone, they're never going to be that band again. But I could grow to like this new version of the band based on this album.

If this proves to be their swansong, so be it, a fitting book end to an amazing career.

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