Monday, 2 December 2013

2013 - THE ALMOST PREDICTABLES

2013 has been a great year for music with many high points including a new Depeche Mode album that refuses to stop being great, my eyes being opened to fantastic Glasgow talent (hello Machines In Heaven, Atom Tree and Nevada Base) and much much more. The blog has really taken off this year thanks to you dear reader whoever you are and it's led to me discovering so much music and making a ton of new friends. My Depeche Mode adventure in November was a particular highlight for me and it will live long in the memory - I hope you enjoyed reading about it too. There's been more to music than Depeche Mode and electronic music generally this year though so this post will allow guitars in. I'm going to give you a highlights of my year kind of thing together with a convention defying Top 19 albums of the year with an entirely unsurprising number 1. I hope you like it. Next year you'll have more of the same from me if that's quite alright with you. There'll be more Depeche Mode retrospectives, more about the frankly incredible Glasgow scene and a few more things I'm working on now that I don't want to jinx by talking about. Thanks for all your support in 2013 you beautiful lot. It really does mean a lot to me. Anyway, enough ramble. It's time for 2013's Almost Predictables.

MUSICAL MOMENT OF 2013
A tough category this one. There's been a lot to inspire me this year from a stunning Pixies gig at the Barras on 22 November, to seeing Depeche Mode return, to the Atom Tree/Machines in Heaven show in October. I am, as the blog title nearly says, almost predictable however so the Almost Predictable for musical moment of 2013 goes to Mr Martin Gore of Depeche Mode for moving me to tears by performing But Not Tonight in Dublin on 9 November. I still can't quite believe he did that. It was one of those moments where a band you love plays a song you love in a brand new way that totally changes the feeling of the song in a brilliant, brilliant way - watch the video linked in this paragraph and tell me I'm wrong. Thanks Martin.

TRACK OF THE YEAR 2013
For this award I'm ignoring Depeche Mode and in fact any of the more familiar bands that'll appear on this list. Ok, Alone by DM is great as are Pink Rabbits by the National, Before Your Very Eyes by Atoms For Peace, Lies by CHVRCHES, Came Back Haunted by NIN etc etc but as one of this blog's main tasks is looking at Glasgow's music scene, this Almost Predictable goes to Desired Effect by Atom Tree from the first class Tide Of Thorns ep. This ep really is one of this year's highlights and Desired Effect is the stand out track. If you haven't heard it you're missing out. Track of the year.

GIG OF THE YEAR
I think 2013 has been a record year for gig going as it feels like I've been to hundreds. Whenever I or my wife tell people we're off on holiday we're now routinely asked who we're going to see which is a bit harsh! We only saw two gigs on holiday this year which is surely a normal level (it IS a normal level right?). Anyway this year I've seen a lot of Depeche Mode (Munich being the highlight), CHVRCHES, Suede (a fantastic night at the Barras), Machines In Heaven, Atom Tree, Frightened Rabbit and many many more but the stand out was the Pixies at the Barras on 22 November. Unbelievable. 90 minutes and 34 songs of the utmost quality including Planet of Sound which nearly tore the roof off. They've still got it, in fact they've got much more of what it is than many other bands have.

WATCH THIS LOT AWARD 2013
A real joy this year was the Glasgow Jihad ep by Machines In Heaven who you've heard me bang on about a lot and with much justification. The promise shown by the ep is backed up by the new tracks the band are currently playing live and 2014 should hopefully see their much anticipated debut album arrive. The Almost Predictable for watch this lot goes therefore to Machines In Heaven. Watch them. A lot.

RECORD SHOP OF THE YEAR
LoveMusic in Glasgow. Simple as that. Not only do they put up with me looking for Depeche Mode singles but they also tweet me to tell me when they're in. THAT is service. Plus Record Store Day there was a real treat with Sandy laying on coffees for those of us daft enough to queue from 7.30am. Loads of vinyl, regular in store live shows and a pinball machine - if you haven't been there go there immediately

PODCAST OF THE YEAR
The Almost Predictable for this goes to my mate Glen Hammarstrom for the frankly brilliant Breathing In Fumes which is a Depeche Mode podcast that provides rare tracks and interviews from Glen's personal stash adding them to classic tracks, live tracks and much more. If you have even the slightest interest in Depeche Mode you really want to get into this. Honourable mention in this category for the Scottish Fiction podcast which is a real joy for all lovers of new Scottish music.

Only 6 Almost Predictables but I hope you agree that they're all justified. If Martin Gore wants to get in touch I'll arrange to hand over his award personally ;) Anyway, to round off this mini review of the year here are my top 19 albums of the year in a vaguely proper order.

19:  Friends In America - What It Is To Be
A Glasgow based band channelling the spirit of Johnny Marr at his Smiths peak and The Sundays
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/FriendsInAmerica

18: David Bowie - The Next Day
After the majestic Where Are We Now it was something of a surprise to get such a rock based album. The fact it harked back to the likes of Lodger made it a real treat though. The surprise of learning Bowie was back was a highlight of the year in itself

17: Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away
A fairly minimalist album by Nick Cave's standards but a real beauty containing a genuine classic in Jubilee Street

16: British Sea Power - Machineries Of Joy
They never fail to disappoint. A less bombastic affair than usual but still a very very good album

15: Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
Worth the hype? Perhaps not however there is still much to enjoy on this album. Get Lucky despite the fact it is easily this year's most overplayed track is a belter and whilst there are a few duffers on here there are enough solid tracks to make this one of the top 19.

14: Boards Of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
The mysterious electrobods returned with a typically cryptic promo campaign and a typically cryptic album. You really can lose yourself in this record. It was worth the hype.

13: Factory Floor - Factory Floor
Coming on like a lovechild of LCD Soundsystem and Low Life era New Order, Factory Floor's full length debut really is a danceable beast. I'm finding it very hard to (1) stop playing it and (2) stop grooving aroudn my kitchen when listening to it which believe it or not is a compliment

12: Atoms For Peace - Amok
Ah Thom you've done it again. My fear was that the inclusion of Flea would involve this sounding like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers but that was soon dismissed. A really great album somewhere between The Eraser and Amnesiac which is very much no bad thing

11: Randolph's Leap - Real Anymore
This really was a great discovery this year. Randolph's Leap take the humour of The Smiths and the sound of Belle & Sebastian (albeit less smug) and turn out great song after great song. This mini album contains some real crackers such as the title track and the Derek Acora referencing Psychic. You have to check this out - you will love it

10: Sigur Ros - Kveikur
Sigur Ros decided to move away from the almost fully ambient feel of their last record and turn on their guitars making this a loud almost rock like in places album. It's one of those albums that really grabs you much their live show at the SECC this year which showcased the tracks perfectly.

9: Arcade Fire - Reflektor
Along with DM and Radiohead, Aracde Fire are a real favourite of mine. Reflektor is a great album although it is maybe a song too long. There's a lot to love on here though from the title track to the brilliant Afterlife. You can hear James Murphy's influence throughout too which is of course a very good thing

8: Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks
Trent's back and whilst he's not as angry as he used to be he's still pretty annoyed. Brilliant stuff

7: Pet Shop Boys - Electric
Well who was expecting that? Neil and Chris decided to head back to the Disco (deliberate pun ;) ) and it really worked. Electric zips by at a pace that belies the boys' age with the only drop out being the appearance of the hideous Example on Thursday. Other than that it's their best since Very

6: Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse
This year saw Frightened Rabbit jump up a league or two thanks not only to Radio 1's patronage and a series of increasingly big sold out shows but due to Pedestrian Verse which is one of their strongest sets of songs to date. Backyard Skulls and The Oil Slick are particular stand outs for me and their live shows this year were fantastic.

5: Suede - Bloodsports
We all thought Suede were long gone and certainly their previous album A New Dawn was as far away from the beauty of Dog Man Star as you could get. Bloodsports is a hugely impressive comeback however and shows a band right back on form. A real treat.

4: Arctic Monkeys - AM
Fantastic. Simple as that!

3: The National - Trouble Will Find Me
What an album. Whilst it may not have the consistency of High Violet, Trouble Will Find Me is a fabulous collection of songs featuring a genuine classic in Pink Rabbits. The National really are developing into a fascinating band and they're only going to get better and better. Make time in your life for this album

2: CHVRCHES - The Bones Of What You Believe
I've already given this a full review ( see here ) and my opinion hasn't changed at all. A must have.

1: Depeche Mode - Delta Machine
What else was it going to be eh? After the mainly dull Sounds Of The Universe I was worried that Depeche's creative juices had run out - how wrong I was. Delta Machine is a fantastic record containing some of the band's best songs in a decade or more. They've no right to still be this good you know. The live shows this year were so impressive too. Bands half their age should take heed.

So that's that - 2013 in a nutshell. Thanks again for reading and see you next year!





Thursday, 7 November 2013

WALKING IN MY SHOES - 5 DAYS ON THE ROAD WITH DEPECHE MODE 7 NOVEMBER TO 11 NOVEMBER 2013

At last my adventure begins. After months of having the tickets and making my plans my Depeche Mode 2013 European tour 2nd leg begins. Today I am in Belfast to see them at the Odyssey Arena following which I go back to Glasgow tomorrow then fly to Dublin on Saturday with my faithful Mode companions John Harrower and Andrew Gilmour for the show at the O2 before ending up back in Glasgow for Monday night's gig. I'm going to keep this blog updated throughout for your entertainment (I hope).

Day 1 - Glasgow to Belfast
In  my usual paranoid way I checked 2000 times or so  that I had my tickets. I did. I packed my bag last night so the last minute ticket paranoia was pointless. Anyway, as you can see, I was ready

When I got to the airport I bumped straight into John Brown of Analog Angel and his wife Lorraine. John was resplendent in his bespoke Kilts on the Rammy Fleece. You'll have seen members of the Kilts at a Depeche gig this year - they can't be missed. It was good to catch up with John and apologies to Lorraine if the DM chat with a bit much. I'm now in Belfast waiting to check in, get changed and head to the pre show meet up with Chris, Aidan, Jen and many more. After that it's showtime and the aftershow party with the daunting prospect of an 11am flight and a return to work ahead of me tomorrow. Before I worry about that though the only focus is on Depeche Mode. What will the set be? Will there be changes? Will Martin sing But Not Tonight? Will the band accept my Twitter challenge in which I said I'd buy them any flavour of crisps they want if they play Alone or Broken? Who knows. Crisps or not it's going to be a huge night. A full report will follow sometime tomorrow. BRING ON THE MODE

Day 1 Part 2 - I'd Tell You About The Things They Put Me Through or How I Don't Owe Depeche Mode Any Crisps (contains setlist spoilers)

So I've woken up feeling a little fragile still wearing my wristband, covered in glitter and sporting glittery mascara and with a voice that sounds like a husky Barry White. Just another quiet night then.The show was of course great and thankfully contained a couple of setlist variations but the night was m ore about making new friends, seeing old ones and just having a great time at a concert by the world's greatest live band. The whole thing kicked off at the Alley Cat pub which I made my way to around 3.30. I was wearing my rather nifty People Are People  tshirt which marked me out as a DM fan/geek and that meant that Emma Parkinson felt she could approach me in the street and ask if I was going to the meet up. I'm delighted she did as we quickly bonded and became drinking pals for the night. I now know that if I need either security or fireworks I have a top contact. We were soon joined in the pub by Chris, Dave (not Gahan), the Kilts (Andy and Brian Pollard. Frazer, John and Lorraine), Jen, Aidan and Debbie and may more. After what feels like several drinks and the application of make up off we went to the arena.

The Odyssey Arena is quite an intimate place as arenas go. I reckon there were maybe around 8000 there and the crowd were on top form. We got nice and near the front as my pictures show.

Depeche Mode - Walking In My Shoes live Belfast Odyssey Arena 7 November 2013

The show was great but not completely surprising. There were two nice surprises however. First up Martin's solo set included Shake The Disease which is one of my top 5 Depeche tunes and therefore one of the top 5 tunes ever written. Secondly they played Behind The Wheel which was immense. It has only been played sparingly on this tour and I hadn't seen it at any of the previous gigs I've been to so that was very cool. Other than those two the set was as you'd expect albeit with less Delta Machine material than on the European stadium leg which is a shame. The Delta Machine songs worked really well live so to see the likes of Goodbye or Soothe My Soul dropped is a pity. I'm not too hung up about it though as after all it's  Depeche Mode show - that's always going to be a good thing. Crucially the band failed my Twitter challenge - no Broken or Alone which meant I didn't have to buy them any crisps. Lads - the challenge still stands for Dublin and Glasgow.

Depeche Mode - Heaven live Belfast Odyssey Arena 7 November 2013
After the gig ended and we all somehow managed to meet up it was a quick taxi ride for me, Emma and 4 German chaps (it was one of those nights) to the Stiff Kitten club where we met up with everyone from before plus Andy McLaughlin who I last saw in Dublin on the Sounds of The Universe tour in 2009. Unusually for me I danced to a few Depeche songs and then finally made it out despite Frazer trying to keep us hostage in the club. I got to bed around 2 am and now have to head for the bus to the airport to get back to Glasgow for a meeting at work. Not sure how the glittery mascara and Depeche tshirt will go down but so what. I'm 2 days into this adventure so I don't imagine this will be the end of my looking like a very tired, glittery DM fanboy.

Next stop Belfast Airport then Glasgow, work and an early night. I'll update next when I get to Dublin. After Belfast it has a lot to live up to. I'm sure Dublin will try its' best......

Day 3 - Dublin Delta Machine

Up and ready to head to Dublin for my second show. Andrew Gilmour, John Harrower and I are ready to have some fun and of course go Depeche Mode mental. Given the time I had in Belfast I don't think it's going to be a quiet day or night. The only concern I have at the moment is tomorrow's 10 am flight home. Gulp. What will Depeche do tonight? My money's on  a similar set to Thursday albeit with a couple of Martin changes and perhaps a Dave one. Crisps wise, the Broken or Alone challenge is still on.

Full report to follow tomorrow. I DEFINITELY have the tickets in my bag so I'll only need to check another 5 or so times before I head off. Tshirt choice has been made too so let's have a Black Celebration (tshirt).



Day 3 Part 2 - ....but I'm not complaining - Dublin, Guinness, no glitter and no crisps for Depeche Mode
What a day, what a gig, what a night. The Depeche Mode party season is definitely in full swing and yesterday was another great day. Andrew, John and I set off to Dublin at 11 and straightaway bumped into Scott MacFarlane at Glasgow Airport. I really didn't know that I knew so many people but that has been a happy consequence of going to all these shows. When we landed I managed to have quick chat to Pete and Peter Too from the Home site which was cool - it's always nice to see them. I did also of course speak to Andrew and John - would have been rude not to. We spent the afternoon having refreshments around Temple Bar before heading to the Harbourmaster for the pre show meet up where we met up with a load of people including Chris, Jen, Scott and of course the ever present Kilts who have probably attended more Depeche Mode shows that Depeche Mode have. A quick tram trip later and we got to the O2 where Depeche played one of the best shows I have seen them play

Depeche Mode Should Be Higher live Dublin O2 9 November 2013


For a change we were positioned at Fletch's side rather than Martin's where I always gravitate to. It's funny; there was definitely less Dave action on our side but I guess that's because he interacts with Martin more. Random thought for you there. Anyway, the show was great and definitely livelier all round than Belfast on Thursday. The set was roughly the same as Belfast bar two Martin changes. Shake The Disease replaced Home as the encore track and in Shake The Disease's place mid set we got

BUT

NOT

TONIGHT

Arggggghhhhhhhh!!!!! Incredible. Incredibly incredible. I had hoped that I'd hear this at some point and to finally hear was just mindblowing I really can't properly describe how chuffed I was. I think I told most of the people around me how pleased I was, went out after it to phone my wife to tell her how pleased I was and then put this rather drunk but genuine post on Facebook around 1am:

Tonight friends I heard Martin L Gore sing 1986 bside But Not Tonight live in Dublin. I can't quote describe what that means to me. Yes I'm a Depeche fanboy etc but that was beyond special. My friends Andrew and John were there with me which made it even better. Sometimes all the gig going and music obsessing makes sense - tonight, hearing that, made all the gigs, trips and so on worthwhile. Tear inducing perfection. *sigh*

I mean it too. 

Martin Gore sings But Not Tonight Dublin O2 9 November 2013

Other highlights were a brilliant Behind The Wheel, Personal Jesus and an epic Never Let Me Down Again that seemed to shake the venue. John who has seen as many Depeche shows as I have said it was the best he's seen from them and it's hard to disagree. No Alone or Broken however so Depeche continue to miss out on the crisps. There's a lot of debate amongst Depeche fans about the setlist and many are unhappy that it's fairly similar to the summer gigs but I'm not on their side. DM are a great great live band and we should just be happy to have them.

As the song says, I'm not complaining. 

Day 4 - Dublin to Glasgow. Feels like Home

Our plane this morning was only half full with most of the passengers seeming to be heading to Glasgow for tomorrow's Depeche show. Along with us were Andy and Brian Pollard, John and Lorraine Brown and a few more Depeche fans I don't know (there are some it appears...). Brian and Andy are already out and about in Glasgow continuing the party. I on the other hand am at home and am not going out until tomorrow. Need to conserve my energy for Depeche in Glasgow. 

Tomorrow is going to be some day.....

Day 5 - Glasgow. Last chance for Depeche Mode to win some crisps....

So here we are. The last day of my trip which ends where it all began - in Glasgow. Tonight will be my first trip to the new Hydro Arena so it's fitting that my first gig is Depeche. As well as Andrew and John I'll be accompanied by my wife Pam, Graeme, Paul and another of my long term Mode followers John C. Seeing Depeche in Belfast and Dublin and meeting up with so many cool people has been great but a home town gig with my friends will be even better. It's Graeme's first time seeing the band too - that makes me quite jealous in a way. I'm going to take a trip to the Hydro shortly on the off chance I get to see the band before the soundcheck. Whilst that may sound like the behaviour of a teenage One Direction fan I've never met the band before and given that I'm somewhat older than a teenager I might not get the chance again. Nothing ventured nothing gained eh? If I get a picture I will of course stick it up here later. The full gig report and final entry in this tour blog will follow tomorrow. Let's go Glasgow...


Day 5 Part 2 - I'm taking a ride with my best friends
I didn't meet the band unfortunately. I took a walk around the Hydro at lunchtime and saw that the trucks etc were there but beyond several members of the Black Swarm already queuing there was no Depeche life so I headed home to get ready for the gig (Crystal Palace 1993 tshirt, Violator sweatshirt). I picked up Pam at Queen Street then headed to the pub to meet up with John, Paul, Graeme and John C before heading to the Hydro meeting Andrew and going inside. It's an impressive building alright but what really let the venue down was the sound. It was quite bassy but suffered from a lot of bounce back meaning that if you were standing at any sort of angle you got some really weird sounds. Let's hope they get that sorted.

Anyway more importantly the gig was great. The crowd maybe weren't as lively as Dublin but that was no doubt more to do with it being a Monday night rather than a Saturday. The band however were on fine form and really seemed to be into the show. Dave especially was on great age defying form.

Depeche Mode Never Let Me Down Again live The Hydro Glasgow 11 November 2013

The set was the same as Dublin which was actually ok for me as I really enjoyed the Dublin set and it flowed better than Belfast. The highlight again was Martin singing But Not Tonight which was of course spine tinglingly marvelous. Behind The Wheel sounded huge last night too. Other highlights were a beautiful Halo, Personal Jesus for the crowd's reaction alone and A Question Of Time which last night seemed to be bigger and better than the versions I'd heard at my previous gigs

Depeche Mode I Feel You live The Hydro Glasgow 11 November 2013

A really enjoyable gig then and thankfully my friends agreed. Depeche really are on great form at the moment so if you get a chance go and see them. I'd go again straightaway if real life wasn't getting in the way!

Day 6 - This (was) an insight into my life 
Hmmmm. I'm up and getting ready for work. Shirt is ironed, suit looked out and I'll soon be catching the train to work. No planes, no meet ups, no parties and crucially no gigs. That feels a bit odd and whilst for the good of my health it's a positive thing, it's a bit sad. I've had an amazing few days and met so many lovely people whilst seeing the greatest band in the world play three great shows. Depeche fans really are a nice bunch. As well as the new ones it has of course been great to go to shows with my lifelong or indeed real life friends so thanks Pam, Andrew, John, John C, Graeme and Paul and I'm glad you all had fun. Thanks too to everyone I met up with in this kind of order (apologies for any inevitable omissions) - John, Lorraine, Emma, Chris, Dave, Aidan, Debbie,  Andy, Brian, Frazer, Jen, Andy McL, the 4 German taxi chaps, Scott, Pete, Peter Too, Scot and everyone else. Thanks also for reading this blog whoever you may be - I genuinely appreciate that you take the time to do so

It's been great so let's do it again sometime.

As the great Mr Gahan would say, we'll see you next time


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

MIAOUX MIAOUX - LIGHT OF THE NORTH REVIEW

This is a somewhat belated review as I've only recently heard this album and indeed according to Miaoux Miaoux's Twitter page the next album is already underway but despite that I feel I have to write something about it as the album is so bloody good.

Miaoux Miaoux is Julian Corrie who meets one of this blog's strict entry requirements by being Glasgow based. Light Of The North was released by Chemikal Underground on 11 June 2012 and rightly gained many plaudits. Mainly electronic (meeting a second of the blog requirements) the album brings to mind a number of styles and sounds and pleasingly is as happy to go synthpop as it is to head to the dancefloor or even to take on New Order-esque indie. All in the album is a real treat for anyone with any interest in electronic music at all.



There isn't a bad track on the album but for me there are a couple of real stand outs. Better For Now is a fantastic pop song with an irresistible melody that you won't shift from your head for weeks but it comes second to the real star of he album - closing track Ribbon Falls. This is as good an electronic pop song as I'v heard in years and it reaches the highs of Yazoo, Erasure at their Chorus finest or the Pet Shop Boys during their indestructible Actually to Very phase. Don't let those comparisons make you think this is a disco stomper of a track; it is in fact a melodic track with more guitar than electronics at first but from a minute in it kicks off beautifully and the chorus is as good a chorus as you'll hear. Perfection.

As I said at the start this is a very late review of this nearly 18 month old album but I'm so in love with it that I had to mention it. The next album will be due soon and based on Light Of The North it's going to be a real treat.

Miaoux Miaoux Chemikal Underground artist page http://www.chemikal.co.uk/artists/miaoux-miaoux/
Miaoux Miaoux Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/miaouxmiaoux

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

EXCLUSIVE: BREATHING IN FUMES - THE ALMOST PREDICTABLE ALMOST INTERVIEW

Breathing in Fumes is THE Depeche Mode podcast. Now onto its' 9th episode the podcast continues to gather momentum getting Depeche Mode fans around the world reappraising old mixes, listening to rare live recordings and thrilling at excerpts from long forgotten or sometimes previously unheard interviews with the band from 1981 to the current date. I am a huge fan of Depeche and the podcast and so I thought I'd ask Glen Hammarstrom, the man behind the podcast, a few questions to try and delve into BIF a little more. Be warned, Glen and I are both very much in the Depeche Mode uberfan camp. This interview therefore contains quite a bit of vinyl discussions.

BREATHING IN FUMES vs ALMOST PREDICTABLE ALMOST


For well over 20 years, Glen Hammarstrom from Modesto, California has been a Depeche Mode fan and collector and has been an Administrator at the fantastic Home website since 2004 keeping people like me in check on a daily basis. Glen is also a DJ and and has hosted the web radio show Disappear for the last 5 years playing choice deep house cuts for the masses. The newest edition of his Breathing in Fumes podcast is out today (22 October) so I thought it would be an apt time to ask him a few questions


1. The Breathing In Fumes podcast is a fantastic thing bringing Depeche Mode, if you'll pardon the the, to the podcast masses. What inspired you to start the podcast?

I have kind of messed around with music podcasts for the past few years, mostly posting up my DJ Mixes etc. As the internet progressed and sites like Podamatic and Soundcloud came about, well, it made doing them a lot easier. I would upload random ones to the HOME ftp but now I don't have to do that anymore. My buddy Mike and I got a little more serious about doing an organised podcast that focussed on classic alternative vinyl that we called Panic. We loved doing it, but sadly Mike moved back to Los Angeles and Panic is kind of on hold for the moment. Once day I started messing around making a new Depeche Mode DJ Mix and the first episode just came together spontaneously. I didn't set out to do a ode podcast, I just threw one up to see what people thought. I made a little mix, threw together an intro and put it out there. The reaction blew me away, so I have just kept going. Simple as that really

2. How long does it take you to plan the podcast? And how long does it take to mix?

Each one has been different really. Some have taken longer than others, but I tend to put one out once a month and that gives me plenty of time to work on them. I don't want to rush as I put a lot of thought into them so I want the podcast to be something people will enjoy. I make the podcasts in parts normally. I'll mix a few songs that I think work together and stop. That tends to get me thinking of other songs or give me ideas on interview buts etc. It keeps my perspective fresh on the episode if I take breaks and come back to it. Once I have all the parts done I do one last final mix and blend it all together as an episode. So each one has taken its' own time to put together. Love the ideas people send me and those suggestions are always appreciated!

3. Are there any Depeche Mode songs you wouldn't consider using?

Not really, no. There are songs in their catalogue that I don't like but not many really. There are songs that I want to use that are challenging to mix with. Most standard album tracks are really hard to mix if they don't have an intro, break or outro like a remix tends to have. That has seen a few songs not make it in yet. DM fans tend to have a pretty wide variety of tastes so I try not to let my taste get too in the way if possible.

4. Would it ever be possible to use The Great Outdoors in the podcast? There's a challenge for you....

Challenge accepted! That's one of the songs I haven't used yet because I was simply saving it for a future podcast. I like saving some songs to have material for later podcasts. If I am going to keep the podcast going I have to space out songs in order that they don't sound the same.

5. BIF8 focussed on the 80's era and you talked about People Are People being the Depeche song that hooked you in. Where and when did you first hear it?

It really did, yeah. I remember hearing it on the top 40 radio station my brother listened to back then. At the time breakdancing was the trendy thing my friends and I were into. While I had fun goofing around thinking we were the New York City Breakers, I found I was more interested in music than anything. I discovered electronic music and Kraftwerk from those early breakdance compilation records and they kind of set the foundation of my music taste on some level. I was also just getting into skateboarding and punk rock then too. Looking back as an adult I realise that I always loved music but around the age of 12 I vividly remember feeling like I was looking for something of my own. One day I heard People Are People and it was an instant love. It was the perfect blend of everything I was looking for in music. It was pop but it also had all this electronics going on. I wish I could describe the feeling, but it was a game changer and I have been a hardcore fan ever since. I had heard Just Can't Get Enough and Everything Counts but I didn't know it was the same band let alone Depeche when I was that age. I have a funny memory of reading the lyric sheet from Some Great Reward and thinking Dave was Martin as I assumed the singer wrote all the songs. It was a little later that I sorted out who everyone was - yes I was a dopey kid! People Are People and Clear from Cybrotron literally changed my life and my love affair with music and skateboarding continues today. I had a very similar reaction to The Smiths too.

Breathing in Fumes 009 - photo by Heather McAlister


6. Like me you tend to collect the odd bit of Depeche vinyl (slight understatement). What's your favourite Depeche Mode vinyl and what's the rarest you won?

I love that you're a fellow vinyl junkie! Depeche vinyl always comes first for me, but I do collect all their physical releases. I started on vinyl, so that might be why I suppose. I realized the other day that the first Depeche Mode CD I ever purchased was Violator since I didn't get a CD player up until around '89 or '90. So I am just from that generation and as a DJ vinyl will always be apart of the culture.... even in the digital age. I don't really have a favorite since I have so many memories tied up with the collection as lame as that sounds. Having rare, hard to find promos are great, but I find I have more love for the ones I have the most memories with. I look at the certain ones and remember who I was with when I bought it, what store it was at, what the song meant at the time etc. For me, there is nothing more satisfying as a music collector then finding a record when you're out digging in a record shop. I don't buy online from Ebay or Discogs, though I have grabbed a few from those sites as record shops are sadly disappearing more and more. Not sure which one is my rarest really, I need to look into that. I have some early promos that I know are pretty hard to come by. 

7. Give me your top 5 DM songs - straight off your head!

You're killing me here! To be fair, my Top 20 are almost all tied for the number one slot, but here are five off the top of my head in no particular order: "Lie To Me", "World In My Eyes", "Here Is The House", "Strangelove", & "Dangerous". 

8. We're approaching the tenth Breathing In Fumes . Any big plans for that?

No plans really, except to maybe go back and try some experiments that I never finished and see if I can get them to work. The Should Be Higher remixes are officially out now so I could see one of those show up in the tenth one for sure. The only one I have thought about as far as a future podcast goes is the the twelfth one as it marks the one year mark for Breathing In Fumes. I have a few people in mind for possible guest mixes (APA - I am always available!)  - who knows? We'll see. I have a lot if ideas but I'm not sure I want it to drift too far off as it's working fine the way it is.

9. What does the future hold for Breathing In Fumes? I think we all hope there are plenty more to come?

Not sure, just going to keep doing what I do I suppose! I have a lot of fun on Facebook and Twitter with little contests and song battles etc so I can see more of that if people enjoy it (APA - We do!). While I know people are interested in Depeche Mode its nice to have people enjoy the way I am presenting the music. It's not about me it's about the band. I'm just trying to do something that we fans might find interesting. That being said, and if I'm being honest, it's a tad scary to put so much of their music out there like this. While I know some would see it as promotion others might see it as giving away the music too. I'm trying to find a balance so that's why I am only putting them up one episode at a time. In today's climate it might seem weird to worry about putting something like this out but this is their art form and how they make their living so I don't want to be seen as taking advantage of that. I just do this for fun and sometimes the stress, even if I am only putting it on myself, makes me want to quit. (APA - DON'T!)

10. Have the band heard the podcast? Are they fans?

No idea but I doubt it. I couldn't imagine they would be interested to hear a podcast of their own music. They might like the idea of someone putting something out there about how much they love the band's music but I doubt they would listen to it. That said I would love to know their reaction to Peter Hook claiming that Enjoy The Silence was a rip off of New Order's Touched By The Hand Of God from that KRQO air check I put out on episode 5. I should just take the audio and send it in - they might get a kick out of it. Band members have mentioned to me that they check out HOME especially around the time of when they are touring so it might be on someone's radar in the band...but I highly doubt it. (APA - If you're reading this Martin, hello from me and please play But Not Tonight in Glasgow ;) )

11. Finally, anyone you want to thank? 

Thank you to everyone who supports the podcast and have donated prizes, listens or shared it with their friends. Big thanks to my fellow HOME crew members, Heather McAlister for her artwork, all your support here on Almost Predictable and my poor wife Elaine who has to put up with my lame music obsession! For info on the podcast head over to http://breathinginfumes.podomatic.com/ and HOME http://www.depeche-mode.com/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thanks very much to Glen for sparing me the time to answer my questions. Breathing In Fumes 9 is out today and can be grabbed on ITunes or on it's podomatic page here . The tracklisting for BIF9 is:

1. Intro
2. Dave, Martin & Andy (1997)
3. It's No Good (Andrea Parker Mix)
4. Freelove (Flood Mix)
5. The band discuss But Not Tonight
6. But Not Tonight (Live Austin, Texas 10/11/13)
7. Music Plus Id (1993)
8. I Feel You (Babylon Mix)
9. Precious (Michael Mayer Balearic Mix)
10. Sister of Night (Ida Engberg Remix)
11. In Sympathy (Live 5/10/09)
12. Live 105 Interview with Martin L Gore 9/26/13
13. The Sun And The Rainfall (Black Light Odyssey's Further Excerpts)
14. Peace (Justin Kohncke Extended Disco Club Vocal Remix)
15. Outro

Follow Breathing In Fumes on Twitter and Facebook
The podcast is available from the Podomatic page mentioned above and on ITunes.





Monday, 21 October 2013

REVIEW - ATOM TREE & MACHINES IN HEAVEN, CCA 19 OCTOBER 2013

As part of Document the International Human Rights Film Festival, Atom Tree and Machines In Heaven played a free show at the CCA on Sauchiehall Street last night. It was my first time seeing both bands live and they both played outstanding sets.

Atom Tree opened up and instantly caught the imagination. There's genuinely something special about this band and I'm convinced that they're going to be huge. Sometimes electronic music doesn't translate to the live arena and can sound a bit flat however Atom Tree showed what can be done and they did it bloody well. The set included a full play of recently released Tide of Thorns ep (review here) including a glorious Desired Effects with Fergus from Discopolis on vocals. My personal favourite PS sounded amazing live too.

Atom Tree live at CCA 19 October 2013

As the people I was texting and emailing post gig will attest, I was blown away by this set. It's hard to perhaps pin down comparisons or obvious influences to give you an idea of the Atom Tree sound as I hear so many different elements at play. My notes from Saturday night mention Radiohead's Kid A at several points and that's not a bad comparison. The atmospheric electronics certainly do bring that album to mind but that's really only part of the story. My best advice would be to check them out yourself as you will not be disappointed. Next up for them is a support with Ghostpoet at the CCA on 22 October, a gig at Cookies in Berlin on 30 November and a showcase show at Catch in London on 4 October .

Blog favourites Machines In Heaven were next up. I've contrived to miss most of their recent shows so it was great to finally get a chance to seem them live. The band gave us a 6 song set containing the three tracks from the Glasgow Jihad ep (links and review here ) and three others including a fantastic (and fantastically named) Parliament Is Made of Rice Paper

Machines In Heaven live CCA 19 October 2013

I've go on and on about Machines In Heaven before and having seen the live show I'm going to keep going on until everyone listens. As with Atom Tree the songs really work live and have an extra punch to them. the set closing bordersbreakdown was a perfect example of that. It's an ambitious track which sounds great on the ep and happily the band perform an excellent version live which seems to have a bit more kick to it. Highly recommended. The band are currently busy remixing for a few people and have just finished their debut album. There are also more gigs in the pipeline which I'll keep you informed about.

Overall then it was a great gig. It's so refreshing to see such vibrant live electronic scene and especially pleasing personally when two bands I keep banging on about sound so good. Thanks to Shaun, Graham, Greg, Connor and Clair for chatting on Saturday - look forward to doing it all again soon.

Atom Tree Facebook
Machines In Heaven Facebook

Thursday, 17 October 2013

ELECTRONIC INSPIRATIONS PART 1: ERASURE - CHORUS

An occasional series where I review non Depeche Mode albums that have influenced me...

Chorus is Erasure's finest album. It contains ten near perfect tracks, all of which are stunning examples of synthpop, electronic pop or whatever you want to label it. Like most people who grew up when I grew up I was a fan of Erasure thanks to their seemingly unstoppable run of fantastic singles in the mid to late 1980's. For me they went off the boil with Wild! which was just too mixed. There are some great songs there (Drama! , Piano Song) but overall it wasn't up to the standard of The Innocents and I lost a bit of interest in them. Chorus reignited that interest to the extent that I still believe it is one of the most important electronic music albums of all time.



Chorus was released on 14 October on LP, cassette, cd and limited cd boxset, having been preceded by two of the band's finest singles, the title track Chorus and Love To Hate You. Chorus opens the album and you're immediately struck by the purely analogue sound that Vince had spent the post Wild years creating. He actually avoided the use of MIDI throughout which gives the album its unique sound for me. Vince is the master of all things analogue. The song starts and synths whoosh and roar, bleeps bleep, there's the odd noise like radar on a submarine and Andy sings about fishes, birds, bones and much more. As with all the great Erasure singles it's over the top and fantastic for it. Even writing about track one now I'm taken back to my last year at school where my friend John Harrower and I would try out best to dominate the common room tape player with this album, Kraftwerk's The Mix and Doolittle by the Pixies. Odd mix but it worked.

Chorus single cover


(Part of the point of these blogs is pure reminiscence on my part so you'll have to forgive the occasional sentimental diversion)

What follows Chorus are two of the great Erasure album tracks. As well as firing out perfect pop singles the band's albums were always full of great material - Love Is A Loser, Spiraling, My Heart So Blue, Heart of Stone, Piano Song and so on. Here, Waiting For The Day and Joan equal if not better those tracks. Killer choruses and music so perfect it's actually ridiculous. Every track on this album was a potential number one single with perhaps the exception, rather oddly, being one of the singles Breath of Life which follows at track 4. A decent song yes but the weakest on the album for me. If it's a great single you're after then the next track Am I Right? provides that. It's a heartbreakingly perfect analogue synthy ballad of Godlike proportions basically and that is no exaggeration. What a song. Am I Right? was released as a four track ep with three very good b-sides. I remember (here I go again....) seeing an advert in Melody Maker on a Saturday morning for the limited edition 12" of the single featuring mixes of the ep tracks by folk like Moby and getting up and getting the bus to Dumfries just to get it. Simpler times. Am I Right? is one of the great Erasure singles and if you like electronic pop music you should like this.

Am I Right? single cover


Chorus may have been a fairly over the top single but it was Leonard Cohen-esque compared to track 6 and the album's second single Love To Hate You. An entire factory of kitchen sinks was thrown in to give us a bewildering yet magical track. Despite Andy's clear influence here Vince is still quite rightly bleeping away throughout. Turns The Love To Anger and the spooky yet reassuringly bleepy Siren Song follow. The latter was the opening track on the band's spectacular Phantasmagorical Tour during which Andy would ride on in a mechanical swan whilst Vince sat in a sort of mini tank filled with synths. Seriously. The gigs at that time were great. Each was almost three hours long with all ten Chorus tracks played among many others punctuated by a break in which there was a bingo session. Reading that back even I think I made that up but I didn't.

Love To Hate You single cover


The album ends with two more classic Erasure album tracks. Firstly we have the could-easily-have been-number-1 Perfect Stranger before the album closes with the beautiful Home. 10 songs, no fillers, Vince going analogue daft and the whole thing working as an album from start to finish. Perfection.

It's not and probably never has been cool to like Erasure but sod that frankly. To dismiss them because they're too poppy or whatever is short sighted. They may have lost their way a bit recently but for a period they and the Pet Shop Boys WERE the charts with Erasure's own golden period peaking with with Chorus. The following Abba-Esque e.p. and albums I Say, I Say, I Say and Erasure must all be sought out too. There are many bands that you could like more than Erasure and there are many different types of electronic music to explore, but every so often you have to give in and just accept that perfect electronic pop music should have a place in your life. Erasure give you that and if you're picking one album to fill the place in your life they occupy, it has to be Chorus.

Monday, 14 October 2013

CHVRCHES - Live Review, Glasgow O2ABC 10 October

The first of CHVRCHES two sold out shows at the O2 ABC last Thursday night (10 October) was a show that, as a consequence of my excitement about the album, I had been looking forward to for some time and I am pleased to say it didn't disappoint. There was a real sense of anticipation in the venue and when the band kicked off with We Sink the whole place started jumping around as one. You could tell that the band could feel it too: Iain and Martin were immediately bouncing around behind the synths and frankly fantastic album art-like stands they were in and Lauren was immediately prowling between the two owning the stage. She was definitely nervous for the first couple of songs ( no wonder given the size of the show) but that soon passed.

The first five songs blasted by in a synthpop haze. We Sink was followed by Lungs, Gun, the sensational Now Is Not The Time whose absence from the album remains a mystery and Lies which sounded huge. Night Sky was up next sounding far stronger than it does on The Bones Of What You Believe. That strength was a common theme of the evening really. Some people have wrongly dismissed the band as too poppy or lightweight, a claim which looks daft when you see them live. They were as loud as any band I've seen recently and all the better for it.


Album bonus track Strong Hand followed leading us to a fantastic three song segment - a massive Science/Visions, Recover sung by everyone in the room and a stunning version of Tether. When the song reaches that part when the synths explode into life you can't help but jump around. Incredible. The main set closed with Under The Tide and The Mother We Share and we caught our breath. After a quick break the band were back on for the Glasgow meets R 'n' B take on Whitney's It's Not Right But It's Ok (which I seemed to know every word of - everyone seemed to come to think of it) and the closing By The Throat.

And that was that. It seemed that they were finished almost as soon as they began. The gig flew by at such a pace and that was because it was so good. I know I'm guilty of hyperbole when it comes to CHVRCHES but this really was a special show. Bring on the Barras gig next March.

Monday, 7 October 2013

CHVRCHES - THE BONES OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE

To say that the debut album from Glasgow's CHVRCHES has been keenly anticipated would be something of an understatement. A large of amount of hype has been generated about the band via a number of already classic electronic pop singles, lengthy tours and high profile support slots with the likes of Depeche Mode and that hype is entirely justified. Look at it this way - we Depeche Mode fans are a notoriously hard to please bunch and a number of support bands have had some pretty rough treatment over the years. When CHVRCHES played on some European stadium shows this summer they went down a storm and gained a large number of new fans. Their fanbase was already ticking along nicely and had been steadily growing since the majestic Lies first popped up last year but the band really have taken off recently with the album hitting the top 10 in the UK and number 12 in America. I can't stop listening to it and am rather excited about seeing them live at the O2 ABC in Glasgow this Thursday. In advance of that gig then here's my track by track take on it:



1. The Mother We Share
This is simply a great electronic pop song and starts the album as it means to go on. We have a killer chorus at the centre of it all backed with superb music and the band's trademark vocal sample sounds. This was first issued in 2012 on very rare coloured vinyl which I don't have a copy of - all donations accepted

2. We Sink
Man alive, this song is breathtaking. I'm trying my best not to draw obvious comparisons but for some reason this puts me in mind of Violator which is as high a musical compliment as I can pay. In an album of great songs this is a standout. Honestly, it is a stone cold classic.

3. Gun
Another one of the pre album singles, Gun starts off nicely but turns nasty in the chorus with all sorts of threats bandied around. The song has a real early electronics feel to it which is ace and once again the chorus is just perfect.

4. Tether
A change of pace here and God help us all a guitar. The song again brings Depeche to mind but I can also hear the Cocteau Twins and the Cure here. When the synth line at 2 mins 41 seconds kicks in you'll be blown away. The songs shows that the band have a far bigger repertoire than catchy 3 and half minute songs and it's a real treat. I know of one Depeche veteran who is obsessed by this tune at the moment and you can see why. Again, the music is fantastic but here Lauren's voice really shines. The production on the album as a whole is fantastic and it's fairly brave of the band not to push Lauren's vocals to the fore throughout. They do here though and it's the right thing to do.

5. Lies
The version here is a slightly tidied up version of the 2012 song but it loses none of its' impact. It's as good an electronic song as you'll hear this year and once again - that chorus! 

6. Under The Tide
Another brooding electronic cracker in which Martin and Lauren share the vocals. 



7. Recover
I first wrote about Recover here when I heard the song for the first time. I still love it. Like I said at the time, any song that could distract me from Delta Machine was going to have to be something special and this is. 

8. Night Sky
This is the poppiest track on the album and does lack the strength of Recover or The Mother We Share but still works. 

9. Science/Visions
A really excellent track that brings to mind the sort of electronics Mute Records were putting out in the early years. The band have this magical knack of mixing older sounds with modern elements of electronic production without them sounding in any way dated. This is an outstanding track which Daniel Miller himself would have been proud to release (at least I think so anyway)

10. Lungs
I'm getting repetitive here but this is a brilliant take on modern electronic pop

11. By The Throat
Again, just pure electronic perfection. It takes all the elements I've mentioned above and uses them brilliantly again

12. You Caught The Light
The album ends on a moody almost gothic edge within which there are elements of Yazoo at their darkest. It's a perfect closing track for a nigh on perfect album

My review may seem a little over excited but I am genuinely blown away by this album. As I said in my Scottish Fiction review for me it's the most important debut electronic album since Speak & Spell. If CHVRHCES go on to have the sort of success whatever band released that album have had it will be entirely justified

See you at the ABC on Thursday!


Thursday, 3 October 2013

ATOM TREE - TIDE OF THORNS EP

When I wrote about Glasgow's electronic scene recently I mentioned that another act to look out for was Atom Tree. At the time of writing that I'd heard a couple of tracks which had caught my attention and they certainly promised much for the future. The band are now set to release their first e.p. through new label to watch Hotgem and it really is something all electronic music fans should pick up.



Atom Tree are a two piece band from Glasgow fronted by Shaun Canning. If you're a fan of the likes of Jon Hopkins then this is certainly for you though for me there's more to the band than that - I hear echoes of Sigur Ros, Music For Airports era Eno and there are even poppy melodies at play which (I guess as usual) take me to Vince Clarke's early works. So what of the e.p. then? Opener Die For Your Love ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6JW7C329HA ) is a fantastic of woozy electronics and treated piano sounds that really grabs you from he off. It'll stay in your head for days once you hear it. Desired Effects is track 2 and features vocals from Fergus Cook of Discopolis. Starting off like an electronic version of Frightened Rabbit at their most laid back,  the song blossoms into a marvellously laid back almost poppy sound with the beautiful vocal from Fergus interplaying perfectly with the music. This track is the standout for me and it deserves a lot of attention. Title track Tide of Thorns is up next and this is the one that brought to mind Music For Airports with it's vocal samples and general feel. It's a track you can lost in. Finally we have the perfectly positioned PS which in the same way it closes the e.p. should be the song Atom Tree finish each live set on, as it is perfect for that role - a great end to the e.p.



Overall then it's hard not to get excited by Atom Tree and once you hear this e.p. you'll see what I mean. The band have a few live shows lined up at the moment (19 October CCA, Glasgow being the next one) with more to come in the near future.Excitingly, the band have today announced a show in Berlin at Cookies on 30 November. Given that city's love of electronic music they are bound to go down well. Check out the Facebook etc links below and make sure you investigate this band further

Friday, 20 September 2013

DEPECHE MODE'S SPEAK & SPELL - A DEFENCE

It's easy to write off Speak & Spell as a poor album and to view Depeche Mode as only really coming into being with Construction Time Again. The band do so why shouldn't the fans? To many it's viewed as an anomaly; a throwaway synthpop album with lightweight tunes featuring pretty boys, boys saying go and no discos. To those people I say listen again - there is far far much more to Speak & Spell than that



Look at the musical landscape of 1981 when Speak & Spell came out. We had people dressed like Revolutionary France nobleman, Dandy Highwayman or sporting in crap suits and poorly applied make-up Much, much worse, we had tartan clad buffoons like Spandau Ballet. Ok, nobody is going to suggest that Depeche Mode weren't dressed poorly. Anyone with eyes can see that Dave needed a different hairdresser in 1981, and the suits/trilby combo from the Just Can't Get Enough video really is a something we all want to forget about. As the "live" section of the video shows, Depeche stood apart from their peers with their leather and military style clothing, despite how incongruous that seemed when you consider the poppy song they were miming to. Anyway, my point is that in comparison to the clothes horse bands knocking out substandard rubbish, Depeche get wrongly lumped in with, Depeche stood out. They were different to these other bands. That's point number one.

The next and most important thing to consider is the music. From the very off, Depeche Mode offered something different,  a point entirely emphasised by the Some Bizarre version of Photographic which released before Speak & Spell itself. They mixed pop sensibilities with an electronic sound far harder than any of their contemporaries, drawing much influence from Kraftwerk, The Normal and so on, but retaining an ear catching melody. Whilst other "synth classics" of the time offer some promise (for example the opening 8 bars of To Cut A Long Story Short which is the only 8 bars of worthwhile music Spandau Ballet produced) they are very few, if any albums from that era that are firstly purely electronic and, secondly have stood the test of time. Speak & Spell satisfies both those criteria.

Let's start with the opening track New Life. By the the album was released, New Life was already well known. The song having charted high as a single, leading to the band's first Top of The Pops performance. As with the majority of Vince's lyrics there's not a lot of sense to be had bar the odd line, but that really doesn't matter with a song of such undeniable quality. It could almost be termed dance music given the speed it flies along at, and it ends beautifully on a Beatles-esque 4 part harmony. It's a perfect start to the album. I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead (early signs of the fun Vince was having in the band perhaps) pops up next and again mixes electronics, a fairly hefty bass line and beautiful harmonies ( "Never say goodbye........but I don't know why") to fantastic effect. Track 3 is Puppets which could easily have been another top ten single, and was in fact performed on UK television at the time (below), so perhaps that was the intention. Again for an album that is on the face of it a synthpop album this is fairly dark stuff, both musically and lyrically with Vince's lyrics influenced by his or a friend's drug experiences. Puppets is a perfect example of why this album should not be idly written off as, even though the band grew and developed in many different ways over the next few years, Puppets is template for early Depeche Mode work up to 1986.





Boys Say Go! is the next track. Ostensibly a song about going out with the lads for a few drinks, it is a fairly rowdy track and there's nothing wrong with that. The band kept it in the set until the Black Celebration tour, which says a lot for how well it went down live. I know of people now (or perhaps a person - hi Niggels) who'd love to see it return to the set and why not? You know you'd jump around to it - you do. The next two songs are for me the album's weakest tracks. Nodisco is interesting musically, but the lyrics let it down. As with the whole album, it is impeccably produced by the band and Daniel Miller with the able assistance of John Fryer and Eric Radcliffe. The sounds that were sculpted and created in the studio are majestic, and, bar a few, do not sound dated at all.



The album's most controversial moment for Depeche Mode fans comes next with What's Your Name. For a blog defending the album and indeed begging you to give it another go, I've got to say that this is a bad track. Compared to the moody almost experimental music we find elsewhere, this is a slice of generic synthpop that sits alongside the other rubbish of the time. The album would not miss this track if it wasn't there put it that way. Saving us spectacularly is track 7, Photographic. The song's first appearance was on the Some Bizarre album, and, there, it was a driving electronic track which was pretty much perfect. The album version is different however, as it is longer and darker, but it is still something very special. It certainly fits with the futurist tag of the time and, lyrically, it almost sounds like it's written from say the 1930's imagining an electronic world of the future. That said, you could also argue that it's written from the perspective of a stalker talking illicit pictures, but I prefer the former version. It's a stunning song and again ensures that Depeche stand well above their peers.

Not to be outdone by Vince, Martin contributes the next two tracks. Tora! Tora! Tora! is a slab of electro goodness far spikier than any of Vince's tracks, with lyrics about skeletons and Americans, all creating a unique track which sounds like nothing else mainstream at the time. Big Muff follows, an instrumental and a belter of a track. The promo sheets issued by Sire, the band's US record company at the time, talked of Big Muff as being a "Eurodisco" track . That  isn't quite how I'd describe it but, fair enough, it was all new to them at the time. Try and track down some early bootlegs to hear how good Big Muff sounds live - it's raw and fantastic. Vince reclaims the song-writing pen for Any Second Now (Voices), but Martin takes over the vocals. This is a beautiful beautiful song which puts one in mind of standing on lonely European railway station platforms surrounded by smoke mourning the end of a cherished relationship. Something like that anyway. The music perfectly suits the lyrics and melody and it all just works perfectly. If you don't like this song then you really aren't trying hard enough.



We end, of course, on Just Can't Get Enough which is where Depeche Mode said "Ok we'll do a synthpop song but it's going to be far better than anything you'll do" and they weren't wrong. It's VERY easy to dislike this song only because every time you tell someone you're a Depeche fan they either say "Oh yeah...Tainted Love right?" or "The 80's band? I remember them -  'And I just don't seem to get enough of DO DO DO DO DO DO DO DO" etc". Ignore that feeling. Swallow it deep down. Just Can't Get Enough is synthpop at its finest. That is all you should ever need to know.



The criticism of Speak & Spell is genuinely baffling. Ok, it's not Violator, Songs of Faith And Devotion or Black Celebration,  but it's the sound of a band trying something new whilst trying to be different and you have to appreciate the sheer quality of what they produce. So many people are rightly quick to praise Dreaming of Me and Ice Machine but they then disregard Speak & Spell. They are all part of the same thing and, together, they all show why Depeche Mode were by far and away the finest band from that era.

Remember this - without Speak & Spell we wouldn't have the Depeche Mode we do now.

And that really wouldn't do would it?

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Independent Label Market, Glasgow Saturday 12 October

I was excited to learn this morning that the Independent Label Market  is coming to Glasgow on Saturday 12 October. Set up as a Farmer's Market style affair you can browse the wares of a large number of Scottish independent labels and shops (such as the fantastic Love Music Glasgow ) and frankly go mad buying as much music as you possibly can. The event is held in conjunction with The Vinyl Factory and you can read more about it here. There's also a Facebook page which contains more info.

There will be dj's, live performances and much more. The event is held at the Barras Art and Design Centre and will run from 10am until 6pm. See you there!


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Breathing In Fumes 7

The next instalment of Glen's Breathing In Fumes podcasts is out today. As ever it's a fantastic mix of Depeche tracks old and new with some really cool interviews thrown in. What's really interesting this time is the 1997 Ultra era interview which I guess must be from a French radio or tv show. I'd never heard it before and it really is a very revealing chat. All I can say is that every Depeche fan HAS to download this because if you don't you're missing out. The tracklist is :

Intro
Leave In Silence (Clara Intelecto 'The Last Time' Remix)
Ghost
Dave, Andy and Martin 1997
Dirt
Goodbye (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Martin L Gore 2009
Shake The Disease (M L Gore demo)
Policy Of Truth (Capitol Mix)
Higher Love (Adrenaline Mix)
Martin L Gore - Compulsion
Mojo Medal Presentation - Daniel Miller
Enjoy The Silence (Live - short version Vienna 2013)
The Sun and The Rainfall (Live London 1982)
Outro

Grab the podcast on ITunes of through the Podomatic page here - you won't regret it


A new video - "Shit Depeche Mode Fans Say"

Amanda Nichole (@MissLeliel) the chief/owner/boss of the excellent Depeche Mode blog And Then has put up a new video in the style of the Shit Girls Say videos entitled Shit Depeche Mode Fans Say. The script is based on a number of remarkable things DM fans have said on forums with a few of Amanda and Tara 's (@Dingerz) own lines in there too. It's a hilarious video that's well worth watching especially because you might hear something you said...

The video can be found here and the And Then blog here  



Monday, 12 August 2013

Depeche Mode Limited Edition 12" giveaway

Ok, so the title of this blog is perhaps a bit more impressive than the content but I do have a rare Depeche Mode 12" to give away. The record is L12BONG3, the Everything Counts limited edition 12" featuring the single version of Everything Counts and 4 live tracks recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon on 25th October 1982 - New Life, Boys Say Go!, Nothing To Fear and The Meaning of Love

These 12" singles were numbered limited editions and this one is number J/0688. The only drawback is that the sleeve is slightly water damaged. I know most people (me included) prefer mint versions of records so I want to make the slight damage point perfectly clear. The vinyl itself is perfect -  I played it last night all the way through to make sure. Here are some pictures:



As you'll see numbers 2 and 3 show the sleeve in all its'....erm....glory. Anyway, like me a couple of years back you may need this to fill a hole in your collection so this may be ideal for you. Since I got the record it has been kept in a sleeve in one of my record boxes so it has been looked after well by at least one of its' owners. 

EDIT MONDAY 19 AUGUST

The winner is Paul Jameson - congratulations Paul!

Thanks very much to all of you that entered