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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Beat Generation: Cut Copy – Zonoscope Album Review

There’s always a question about the follow up record. What does a band do after their big breakthrough? On Zonoscope, Cut Copy’s third LP for Modular Recordings, Cut Copy faces that dilemma by not breaking stride. Each release from the band has been in forward movement, keeping in step with a logical, traceable progression. Zonoscope fits into this tradition as Cut Copy continue to refine their electro dance rock pallet.

While the record is no grand departure for the band it’s clear their sound has gotten a bit of an update for this release. The band worked with indie-superstar producer Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Matt & Kim, Gnarls Barkley) in making the record. The collaboration proves to be a fruitful one as Cut Copy’s sound remains wholly their own while the songs are now driven to a new arena hugeness. (For more insight into the recording of Zonoscope, check out this Behind the Scenes/ Making Of documentary for the album on youtube: part 1part 2part 3 and part 4.)

The record cruises through the familiar synthpop fare and ’80s club motifs with the scale, the hooks, everything on the record sonically boosted. While cuts like “Hearts on Fire” or “Far Away” were built for the sweatiest discotheques”fast, pulsating four-on-the-floor bangers”the songs on Zonoscope hit in a different way. The kick drum on “Pharaohs & Pyramids” was meant to shake a coliseum that could fit thousands and it’s not hard to imagine “Need You Now” opening a sing-a-long set for the band at any one of the Coachellas – where they’re playing Friday, April 15th – or Bonnaroos this summer.

Cut Copy - Zonoscope

The greatest change for the band between this and their last album, 2007’s rightfully lauded In Ghost Colours, is the dialing down of the psychedelics that permeated that record. Zonoscope also sounds more upbeat, a change that has come hand in hand with the additional sonic clarity. There are dark nooks in Zonoscope, but they are few and far between. “Corner of the Sky” trades a bit in confusion and mystery before moving to the big chorus and there’s nothing as melancholy as “Strangers In The Wind”. However, there are still trippy, swirly moments here and there. The one nearly wordless piece on the record, “Strange Nostalgia for The Future”, twinkling abstraction that it is, is bright and effervescent. The soundscape interstitials that bookended many of the songs on In Ghost Colours are still present as well, lending the work a sense of cohesion to the record.

Photo: Warwick Baker

Zonoscope finds Cut Copy at their most reverent as the band gives big nods to the past. The aforementioned “Pharaohs & Pyramids” shows its debt to New Order and ’80s synth pop with a bass line that would make Peter Hook proud. “Take Me Over” is indebted to Fleetwood Mac; “Where I’m Going” is Rubber Soul era Beatles with a clubby Aughts update. Hell, “Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat” sounds like a product of the ’70s with lyrics speaking of watching satellites, where the stars meet and electric heartbeats in the sky. All the while, singer and mastermind Dan Whitford’s voice is in fine form, sounding more confident on Zonoscope then he has in the past.

The album is closed out by “Sun God”, an epic fifteen minutes of rave-up maximalism, a sprawl of a track. To give you some perspective, the album plays around sixty-one minutes and runs eleven tracks in length. “Sun God” alone makes up about 25% of the album. But considering that Zonoscope is not an album of small gestures, it’s a fitting move.  “Sun God” sounds like what you would get if you took Phoenix’s “Love Like a Sunset” Parts I and II, turned them backwards, pumped em full of steroids and hung a discoball above it. The track also contains the choice lyric from the album, You got to live/ You got to die/ So what’s the purpose/ Of you and I? When you see them in concert, please bring a canteen, if only for this song.

Recorded in a warehouse outside Melbourne, the band said to have used, all sorts of strange bongos, rototoms, congas, ten kinds of shaker, fifteen different cowbells; anything and everything in the production of the record. All in all, it seems that artistic freedom has been good for Cut Copy as Zonoscope is another great record from the band and bodes well for their future.

Lemmy Laughs Last: Heavy Metal Hero Revels In His Renaissance

The flurry of activity currently surrounding legendary Motí¶rhead frontman/rock & roll survivor Lemmy (Ian Kilmister if you’re writing him a check) has lately put the man with the most famous mole and muttonchops in the music biz under a white-hot spotlight. With a documentary, a new Motí¶rhead album (drops today!) and a tour all in the offing, the man who made metal cool” in the heyday of hardcore, punks nicknamed Motí¶rhead the only metal band that matters” is getting so much exposure one almost expects to find him helming his own reality show (HBO, are you listening?).

Photo by Robert John

Lest we forget, though, Lemmy traveled a long, hard road to the icon status he enjoys today. Like a lot of first-generation metal men, he started out in psychedelia”after a short stint humping gear for the Jimi Hendrix Experience in England, he worked with late-˜60s UK psych outfit Sam Gopal. His first taste of fame came in the early ˜70s with space-rock cult heroes Hawkwind, but when he formed Motí¶rhead” remember, it’s not metal without an umlaut”in 1975, his place in heavy-rock history was assured. The grizzled guardian of all things bone-crunching turned 65 on Christmas Eve, but the word retirement doesn’t seem to be in his vocabulary.

The subtitle of the new documentary Lemmy ” 49% Motherf**ker, 51% Son of a Bitch” says it all about the man whose attitude is as uncompromising as his face-melting music. The disparate cast of characters who pop up to chime in on the topic of Lemmy’s uncontested awesomeness is a testament to Motí¶rhead’s outsized appeal; everybody from Ozzy and Metallica to Clash axeman Mick Jones and New Order’s Peter Hook is part of the onscreen cheering section. The film, directed by Greg Oliver and Wes Orshoski “ will be wending its way around the country over the next couple of months, bringing some heavy metal heft to the art-house circuit, and the double-disc DVD version with a whopping three hours of extra features is unleashed on February 15.

But don’t let the historical perspective that comes with the rockumentary treatment lead you to believe that the Motí¶rhead story is a closed book. February 8th sees the unveiling of The World Is Yours, produced by Cameron Webb, who tellingly has overseen as many punk outings (Social Distortion, Pennywise) as heavy-rock recordings. Full of the blazing riffs and need-for-speed demon drumming that have become the band’s trademarks”not to mention Lemmy’s raw-throated roar and apocalyptic bass lines”the album shows that even after three-and-a-half decades of destruction, the Motí¶rhead machine grinds on relentlessly. If any further proof of that fact is required, Lemmy, Phil Campbell, and Mikkey Dee are storming stages from Austin to Asbury Park throughout January and February to hammer the point home. Of course, if you want to have a little Lemmy you can call your very own, you can always snap up a collectible action figure cast in Mr. Kilmister’s unmistakable image (Yes, for real).