New New Order (Order?) Tour

Yes, the legendary new wave electro rockers known since 1980 as New Order have decided to stop torturing American fans by ending a seven-year embargo, kicking off a short tour on October 5th in San Francisco. Rolling Stone reports that the group will hop strategically (the only way to hop, really) across the continent during the month of October, ending on the 23rd in Toronto. This jaunt will be their first in North America since replacing founding member Peter Hook in 2007.

10/5   San Francisco – Oakland Fox Theatre
10/7   Los Angeles – Greek Theatre
10/10 Denver – Broomfield 1st Bank Center
10/12  Dallas – Palladium
10/18  New York City – Roseland
10/21  Chicago – Aragon Ballroom
10/23  Toronto – Sony Center

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Blur to Headline 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony

According to Rolling Stone, British icons Blur are set to be the headliners of this year’s Olympic closing ceremony, which will take place at London’s Hyde Park later this summer. The band, who split up in 2003 and eventually reunited in 2009, says that this performance for the BT London Live shall be even better than their reunion show. What’s more, they shall be receiving the Outstanding Contribution to Music award at the BRIT awards tonight.

Other bands scheduled to join Blur at the closing ceremonies are New Order and the Specials, making the event an iconic night for British music.


Sound And Vision: What Will George Michael Do with His Second Chance at Life?

It’s been nearly eight years since George Michael released an entire album of new music, and three since he put out a single that wasn’t a cover of New Order’s “True Faith.” But in 2011, the singer-songwriter starred in what must have been one of the year’s most gripping YouTube videos, two minutes as gripping and heartfelt as anything on Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, his essential 1990 album.

There was no music, and Michael didn’t sing a note. In the clip, which was posted on December 23, Michael gave a press conference in which he discussed his recent near-death experience that began on November 21 on the Vienna stop of his forty-eight-date European tour and which he described as “the worst month of my life.” The normally robust singer, who had contracted a chest infection that was later diagnosed as life-threatening pneumonia and spent a month in hospital in Vienna (including ten days in the intensive-care unit), appeared gaunt and gray, often struggling to catch his breath.

In a year that took so many of music’s greats (R.I.P., Amy Winehouse, Nikolas Ashford, Phoebe Snow, Vesta Williams, Clarence Clemons, Dobie Gray, Billie Jo Spears), Michael is truly lucky to be alive ”and he knows it. So what’s next? First, as he said in the interview, he will reschedule the cancelled dates on the Symphonica Tour that he was staging throughout Europe and the UK when his illness struck. The shows featured Michael performing his own hits and non-hits as well as select covers (including Winehouse’s “Love Is a Losing Game”) with a symphonic orchestra.


Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Sound And Vision: Guns N' Roses? Joan Jett? Why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Is on the Verge of Becoming a Joke?

Last month when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its fifteen nominees for induction in 2012, the organization really outdid itself”and not in a good way! Donovan? Not again! Erik B. & Rakim? Not before LL Cool J! Joan Jett and the Blackhearts?

What? No “Weird Al” Yankovic? Hasn’t he been eligible for four years?

The Hall of Fame has been scraping from the B-list for a while now, but the voting body should take a closer look at the A-list. There’s still a lot of unheralded talent there, and that would not include Joan Jett. Yes, Jett’s former band, The Runaways, deserves credit for introducing girl power to hard rock, but did Joan Jett and the Blackhearts really earn a spot in the hallowed Hall based on the strength of one really awesome No. 1 smash, 1981’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which the band didn’t even write? In the general scheme of things, aren’t they sort of a rock & roll footnote?

Not Linda Ronstadt. Perhaps the most influential female in ’70s rock, who spent the ’80s juggling genres from new wave to mariachi to the great American songbook, she’s the most deserving artist never to be nominated. And let’s talk about Pat Benatar and Stevie Nicks, who is already in the Hall of Fame as a member of Fleetwood Mac but whose solo career is far more worthy of the honor than Jett’s post-Runaways. At least the nominating committee finally had the good sense to give props to Heart, though I’ll eat my copy of the “Alone” Cassingle if the Wilson sisters actually get in.


88 MPH: Out With The Old, In With The New (Order)

Musicians often boast that their endeavors amount to a “labor of love,” but for no band is this sentiment more accurate than for Massachusetts electropop outfit Passion Pit. The group began as just one musician, singer Michael Angelakos, who recorded a few songs as a Valentine’s Day present for his college girlfriend. Angelakos’ songs began to circulate among his Emerson College classmates, and he quickly attracted a wider following of Boston-area music lovers. Soon, he found himself collaborating with a group of students from Berklee College of Music who helped flesh out his electronic sound with a full band. After New York label Frenchkiss re-released Angelakos’ original songs as the Chunk of Change EP, the band went on to record their debut LP, Manners, a critically-lauded shimmering dose of synthpop heavily indebted to British act New Order.

After the suicide of vocalist Ian Curtis, the three remaining members of Joy Division” guitarist Bernard Sumner, bassist Peter Hook and drummer Stephen Morris”turned tragedy into opportunity by reforming in 1981 as the appropriately-named New Order. With the addition of keyboardist Gillian Gilbert, the band began to forge their new sound and identity. Though New Order’s earliest songs sounded much like B-sides from a Joy Division record, the group gradually brought Gilbert’s synth to the forefront of the mix. This change resulted in songs like “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle,” which would become some of the band’s most enduring hits. Though the group continued to write and record through the ’90s and early 2000s, the snuffed-out flame that was Joy Division still trumped New Order in the collective imagination of music fans. Just like the legends of other rock stars who live fast and die young, the stories that formed around Curtis and Joy Division’s brief existence unfortunately eclipsed New Order’s quality musical output.

During the first decade of the 2000s, Joy Division was one of the most cited influences among indie rock buzz bands such as mope rockers Interpol. With the deck fairly stacked against New Order, it took a truly hype-worthy act to resurrect their synthpop legacy. Enter Passion Pit. “Eyes As Candles,” a cut from the band’s debut full-length Manners shares a few key characteristics with New Order’s “Thieves Like Us” (above). Not only do both songs begin with a driving solo drum beat that launches into a blast of synth pad, they both combine electronic sounds with traditional rock instruments. (more…)