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Welcome to the memorial site for the AeschTunes internet radio station.

Please visit the About page to learn more about the station, its history, and the people behind it.

If you’d like to get an idea of the type of music that the AeschTunes internet radio station played, check out our Spotify playlist:

This site also provides information on the station’s various specialty shows, the weekly AeschTunes Top 40 charts, interviews, and music reviews.

As of November 2022, the site started adding new music reviews.

New reviews added in March 2023:

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Album Review: Depeche Mode – “Violator”

Depeche Mode Violator

Depeche Mode released their seventh studio album, Violator, on March 19, 1990. This still ranks as one of my favorite Depeche Mode albums of all-time, and it also includes two of my all-time favorite songs by the band: “Enjoy the Silence” and “Policy of Truth.” Violator was also the first album by Depeche Mode to reach the top 10 on the Billboard 200 album chart. It peaked at number seven, and stayed on the chart for 74 weeks.

Violator opens with “World in My Eyes,” which was the fourth and final single released from the album. It’s an uptempo track, and in the song, the speaker is basically trying to seduce a potential lover. While this may not be among my all-time favorite songs by Depeche Mode, I still enjoy it quite a bit.

The next song on the album is “The Sweetest Perfection.” This is a slower song, and the speaker is very enamored with the person that they’re interested in. It really works as a segue between “World in My Eyes” and “Personal Jesus.”

“Personal Jesus” was the lead-off single for the album. I lived in an area that was considered to be a bit conservative at the time, and when the local Top 40 station played this song, they would announce it as “Reach Out and Touch Faith” instead of by its actual title. So I was quite confused when the music video labeled the song as “Personal Jesus.” This is an upbeat song, and the speaker is telling someone that they will be there for them. At the time, it was noticeably different from what listeners would have expected from Depeche Mode, but it works.

This is followed by “Halo,” which is another midtempo song. In the song, the speaker is telling someone that they can still come to them and rely on them, no matter how bad the person’s life may seem to be. According to Alan Wilder, “Halo” was on a short-list for a single but was never a major contender. While I like “Halo” and it has a catchy chorus, I think the right choice was made to not release this one as a single.

Next is “Waiting for the Night,” which is a slow song, and it has a bit more of a “blippy” sound musically when compared to the other songs on the album. In the song, the speaker is talking about how things may seem bad at this point in time, but how even making slight changes can make things seem a little better than they may really be.

This is followed by “Enjoy the Silence,” which was the second single from the album. This has also become the most popular song in Depeche Mode’s catalog, and in 2022, part of it was used in the dance song, “All By Myself” by Alok, Sigala, and Ellie Goulding. The tempo of the album picks back up with this song, and the speaker is talking about how words aren’t always necessary. In fact, there’s the chance that saying the words can cause more damage than not saying them.

“Enjoy The Silence” segues right into a hidden instrumental interlude titled “Interlude #2 – Crucified.” To be honest, this interlude is needed to provide a smoother segue between “Enjoy The Silence” and “Personal Jesus.”

After the interlude, the album goes into “Policy of Truth,” which was released as the third single from Violator. This is a midtempo song, and the speaker is questioning another person about their beliefs on what situations they should telling the truth about. I’ve always loved the groove and atmosphere of this song, and I think it works perfectly with what the lyrics are conveying.

The next song on the album is “Blue Dress,” which is a slow song. In the song, the speaker is asking someone to do something simple to make them happy. This song features Martin Gore on lead vocals, and his voice and vocal delivery work perfectly for this song.

There is a final interlude on the album, “Interlude No. 3,” that segues between “Blue Dress” and “Clean.” This is another case where an interlude of some kind was needed in order to smooth out the segue between two songs on the album so it flows better.

The album closes with the song “Clean,” which is another slower song. In the lyrics, the speaker is talking about how they finally have a better handle and understanding of their life after making some changes. While this may be the theme of the song, there is also an intertwining of holy imagery with a theme of sex. Sonically, this song is the perfect way to end the album.

All the songs on Violator flow together very well, and the listener can hear a particular sound and several themes that run throughout the album. In my opinion, it’s one of the best albums that Depeche Mode has released during their career. If you’re trying to introduce someone to Depeche Mode’s music, especially if that person is more of a pop music listener, I would recommend starting with Violator.

(reviewed by Lesley Aeschliman in September 2011, reworked by Lesley Aeschliman on March 24, 2023)

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Album Review: Depeche Mode – “Ultra”

Depeche Mode Ultra

Depeche Mode released their ninth studio album, Ultra, in 1997, which was around four years after the band’s previous studio album, Songs of Faith and Devotion. During that time, long-time band member Alan Wilder left the group to focus on his own project, Recoil. It was also during that time that lead singer Dave Gahan nearly died of a drug overdose. When the Ultra album was announced, fans wondered how the music would sound, since Alan Wilder had been rather instrumental in shaping the band’s sound since he joined in 1982.

Ultra opens with “Barrel of a Gun,” which was the lead-off single foe the album. While you could hear some of the sound from the Songs of Faith and Devotion era, there was still a difference. One of the most notable things about this uptempo track is the distortion applied to Dave Gahan’s vocals. Even though “Barrel of a Gun” was released as the lead-off single, it ultimately did not represent the sound of the album.

The next song is “The Love Thieves,” which is a slower song featuring lead vocals by Dave Gahan. I like this song lyrically, although I find that the music sounds like it’s plodding for most of it. Considering this song is about six-and-a-half minutes in length, the feel of the music can make it feel longer than it really is. Even though I have this complaint about the music, I think that Dave turns in a good vocal performance on this one.

Next is “Home,” which is another slow song, and it was released as the third single from the album. This song features lead vocals by Martin Gore, Depeche Mode’s main songwriter, and it’s my favorite song on Ultra. Not only do I like the lyrics of the song, but I also like the atmosphere of it. I especially like the use of strings.

This is followed by the uptempo “It’s No Good,” which, in my opinion, is the most “pop-friendly” song on Ultra. It’s disappointing that this song, which was released as the second single from the album, did not perform on the American CHR/Pop charts. “It’s No Good” is my second-favorite song from Ultra.

The next song, “Uselink,” slows the album down again, and it is an instrumental interlude. It runs a little over two minutes in length, so it doesn’t wear out its welcome. This interlude works as an effective transition between “It’s No Good” and “Useless.”

“Useless” was the fourth and final single released from Ultra. It’s a more mid-tempo song, with vocals by Dave Gahan. “Useless” isn’t necessarily a bad song, but I can see why it was chosen to be the final single from the album. I like the song, and it is an enjoyable listen, but it’s not really a single.

The next song, “Sister of Night,” is a slower song that is sung by Dave Gahan. I personally would have liked to have seen this released as a single from the album, but if it had been the fourth single, that would have put two ballads back-to-back as singles. It was nice to get to hear Dave sing on this one, because usually, Martin Gore sings the band’s ballads.

“Jazz Thieves” is another instrumental interlude. It’s a slower track, which is layered with a lot of different sounds. However, I’m not sure if I would use the word “jazz” to describe the sound.

This is followed by “Freestate,” which is the longest song on the album and is another slower song that is sung by Dave Gahan. The thing that stands out on this track is the fact there is an element in the song that sounds a lot like an acoustic guitar. Even though this may be a longer song with a slow tempo, it doesn’t feel like it’s dragging. The music doesn’t sound like it’s plodding, and the lyrics are engaging.

The next song is “The Bottom Line,” a ballad sung by Martin Gore. It’s a great vocal performance from Martin, and the song itself is good. However, to me, the song isn’t quite as strong as “Home.”

The final song listed on the back of the album is “Insight,” which is a midtempo song sung by Dave Gahan. Unfortunately, after having several slower songs in a row on the album, you start feeling a little worn out by this point in the album and wish for something more uptempo. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s a bad song. In fact, I really like the lyrics of this one.

There is a hidden track on the album, which appears after a ninety second pause at the end of “Insight.” The hidden track is the uptempo instrumental, “Junior Painkiller.” This hidden track is a nice change of pace after sitting through the second half of the album.

Depeche Mode had a lot to prove with the Ultra album. While it may not rank up there with my all-time favorite Depeche Mode albums, Violator and Some Great Reward, it isn’t a bad album for what it is. There’s some very good material on Ultra that is worth the listen.

(reviewed by Lesley Aeschliman in September 2011, reworked by Lesley Aeschliman on March 23, 2023)

music, review

Set Review: Neneh Cherry – “Raw Like Sushi” (30th Anniversary Reissue)

Neneh Cherry Raw Like Sushi 30th Anniversary Set

In 2020, Neneh Cherry released a 30th anniversary deluxe reissue of the Raw Like Sushi album, which includes three CDs and 48-page softcover book that incorporates song lyrics, photos, and an interview. It should be noted that Raw Like Sushi was originally released in 1989, so this set came out over a year after the album’s true 30th anniversary.

The first disc includes the 10 tracks that appeared on the U.S. release of Raw Like Sushi, as well as two additional tracks. Apparently, these two additional tracks appeared on the CD release of the album in the U.K.

While I’ve owned a copy of Raw Like Sushi for a number of years, I only really listened to the three songs I heard on the radio back in the day: “Buffalo Stance,” “Kisses on the Wind,” and “Heart.”

Listening through this 30th anniversary reissue was my first time hearing the entire album all the way through, and it was an interesting experience. Even though I enjoyed a lot of the songs I heard on the album, there really wasn’t a lot that was commercial enough for American pop radio back in the late 1980’s. The only other song that might have worked for U.S. pop radio is ”Phoney Ladies,” and I’m surprised that “Heart” was promoted as a third single here over “Phoney Ladies.” In addition to “Phoney Ladies” and the songs I was familiar with, I also thought that “Manchild,” “Inna City Mamma,” and “The Next Generation” were standouts on the album.

The first bonus track on the first disc of this reissue is “My Bitch,” which is a duet with Gilly G. The song is an interaction between a woman and a man who approaches her at the party. The guy is portrayed as being quite full of himself, and we hear Neneh shooting this guy down, and shooting him down hard. I found the song amusing the first time I heard it, but I have a feeling that the amusement factor is going to decrease for me with each successive listen.

The other bonus track is a demo version of “Heart.” It was interesting to hear how some of the lyrics changed between this demo and the version that was recorded for the album. In some respects, after hearing this demo, I think the final version of “Heart” is even more over-the-top with its cattiness than I thought it was. While I do like “Heart,” I’ve always kind of thought the cattiness could have dialed back a little bit. The demo proves that this could have been possible.

The remaining two discs of this reissue are discs of remixes. Unfortunately, the way the discs were sequenced, there are remixes of the same song back to back instead of spread out across the two discs. I think the idea was to try to mimic the singles as much as possible, even though I know for a fact that not all of the remixes are included on this set. I also have to point out that on the second remix disc, the tracklist claims that the third track is the 12” Spanish Mix of “Kisses on the Wind” and that the fourth track is the David Morales “A Little More Puerto Rico” Mix of “Kisses on the Wind.” Unfortunately, it turns out that both tracks are the 12” Spanish Mix of the song.

The first remix disc includes five mixes of “Buffalo Stance” and five mixes of “Manchild.” The second remix disc includes two versions of “Inna City Mamma,” two mixes of “The Next Generation,” a mix of “Heart,” and three mixes of “Kisses on the Wind” (instead of four, since the 12” Spanish Mix appears twice on the disc). First, it’s a little disappointing that the screwup happened on the second remix disc, because this causes an additional remix to be left off of this release. There should have been enough space on the set’s first disc to include one or two remixes, and it’s a little disappointing that this additional space on the first disc wasn’t utilized.

The remix that stood out to me was the Sukka Mix of “Buffalo Stance,” because of the different introduction to the song that Neneh has. In the original, she talks about introducing the hi-hat and the tambourine. On this remix, she flips it around and says she’s not going to introduce the hi-hat or the tambourine. I admit this elicited a giggle out of me.

Even with some of the issues I have with this release, I would still recommend this 30th anniversary edition box set of the Raw Like Sushi album. With this release, Neneh Cherry fans can still obtain the vast majority of her material that was released during this era of her career. While this release could have been a little stronger, the pros ultimately outweigh the cons.

(reviewed by Lesley Aeschliman on March 22, 2023)

music, review

Album Review: Depeche Mode – “Sounds of the Universe”

Depeche Mode Sounds of the Universe

Depeche Mode released their 12th album, Sounds of the Universe, in April 2009: April 20 in Europe and April 21 in the United States and Canada. The regular CD pressing of the album contains 13 tracks, while a digital download version added two bonus tracks. The vinyl LP and CD pressing had two LPs with the 13 songs bundled with the regular CD.  A CD/DVD combo contained the regular CD and a DVD that includes two videos (the video for “Wrong” and “Sounds of the Universe (A Short Film)”), as well as the album in 5.1 surround sound and three bonus tracks. The iTunes Pass version had the 13 album tracks, plus the “Wrong” music video, “Sounds of the Universe (A Short Film),” and 16 bonus tracks. A deluxe box set edition contained the regular CD, a CD of bonus tracks and remixes, a CD of demos, a DVD that includes the items from the CD/DVD combo, plus other additional video pieces, as well as other assorted extras, such as hardback books, a poster, etc. In the United States, there were also store-specific pressings that each touted a different exclusive track.

For this review, I will simply be focusing on the 13 tracks that are on the regular pressing of the album. There’s simply way too many extra tracks to try to review them all as well.

Most of the material on Sounds of the Universe was written by Martin Gore, Depeche Mode’s main songwriter. However, lead singer Dave Gahan co-wrote three songs with Christian Eigner and Andrew Phillpott: “Hole to Feed,” “Come Back,” and “Miles Away / The Truth Is.” The B-side song “Oh Well” was co-written by Martin Gore and Dave Gahan.

Dave Gahan does the majority of the lead vocals on Sounds of the Universe. Dave and Martin share lead vocal duties on “In Chains,” “Peace,” and “Little Soul.” Martin provides the lead vocals on “Jezebel” and the bonus track “The Sun and the Moon and the Stars.”

The album opens with “In Chains,” which has a long opening intro. The intro can be a little grating, but once you get past that, the song itself is actually quite good. In the EPK for Sounds of the Universe, Dave Gahan says, “it could have been something that Marvin Gaye performed, that kind of soul-y song, its got beautiful lyrics and it was great to sing.” I agree that the lyrics are great, and I guess I can kind of hear that “soul” sound he’s talking about in his vocal delivery.

“Hole to Feed” has a bit more of a “harder” sound than would usually be expected from Depeche Mode, but it’s still an enjoyable listen. In the EPK for the album, Dave Gahan says that, “it’s a very cynical song about wanting to fill a gaping hole but not knowing what to fill it with. About sometimes the idea having a hole to feed all being a figment of my imagination when I’m actually fine.” The sound of the song perfectly complements the message that Dave is trying to get across with the lyrics.

“Wrong,” the lead-off single for the album, has a sound and flow to the music that grabs the listener. It’s also one of the stronger songs on the album. In the EPK for Sounds of the Universe, Dave Gahan describes “Wrong” as a “sort of unconventional pop song.” Martin Gore added that “there’s a bit of black humor in there.” And to be honest, I think they’re right on both counts. Black humor is nothing really new for Depeche Mode, after all. And while “Wrong” is a catchy tune, there’s nothing really conventional about it when it comes to pop music.

“Fragile Tension” is one of the more pop-friendly songs on Sounds of the Universe, and I’m not surprised to see that it was released as a double A-side with “Hole to Feed.” I really like the sound of the synths on this one, especially since the synth is very prominent here. And Dave’s vocal performance sounds really good here.

“Little Soul” is a slower song, but some the lines in the chorus get stuck in your head after hearing the song a few times. In the EPK for the album, Martin Gore says, “I think it’s in my warped head, there’s something Stevie Wonder-like about ‘Little Soul.’” When I listen to this song, I think I can hear what Martin is talking about with the musical arrangement of this one.

“In Sympathy” is another one of the more pop-friendly songs on the album, and it’s a shame that it wasn’t released as a single. Musically, this song just grabs me and doesn’t let go for its nearly five minute runtime. This song would have been perfect for remixes, and I think that remixers could have taken the musical elements and created some interesting interpretations of the song.

The mid-tempo song “Peace” opens the second half of the album. I like the lyrics of the song, but musically, the song never really progresses. It’s not a bad song, but I’m not sure it was the best choice to be the second single from the album.

“Come Back” suffers from a similar problem to “Peace.” While the lyrics are good, the music ends up staying stuck in a rut. It’s interesting to note that in the EPK for the album, Dave Gahan says: “’Come Back’ was originally in a gospel atmosphere, but eventually we decided on a big wall of sound.” The big wall of sound isn’t necessarily bad on this track, but it feels like the song just needed something a little more. To be honest, I think the gospel atmosphere might have made this one a little more interesting, and it’s too bad that direction ended up not being pursued.

“Spacewalker” is a roughly two-minute long instrumental. Unfortunately, it basically plods along, and you’re ready to move on to the next song before it’s finished.

The next song, “Perfect,” starts to rescue the listener. While it’s a mid-tempo track, the music doesn’t plod as much as “Peace” or “Come Back.” The instrumentation on this one is rather catchy, and Dave’s got a good vocal performance here. Even though it’s a catchy song musically, I don’t think it could have quite worked as a single. While it may not have been single material, it’s still one of the standouts on Sounds of the Universe.

“Miles Away/The Truth Is” is another one of the more pop-friendly songs and one of the more memorable songs on the album. However, I think it was overlooked as a potential single, due to the fact that Madonna released her song “Miles Away” as a single shortly before Sounds of the Universe was released. The EPK for the album seems to back this up, with Dave commenting, “’Miles Away/The Truth Is’ on this album was just ‘Miles Away’. Then Martin said, ‘You know there’s a Madonna song called ‘Miles Away’? So it was changed.”

“Jezebel,” Martin’s only solo lead vocal on the album, was a bit of a letdown for me. While Martin’s vocals are up to his usual standards, the song itself just plods. Also, it’s a very abrupt change going from “Miles Away/The Truth Is” to “Jezebel.”

“Corrupt” is the last listed song on the album, and it really doesn’t sound like an album closer. It’s another slow song that plods, and being on the heels of “Jezebel,” it really drags down this section of the album.

There is a hidden track at the end of “Corrupt.” After roughly two to three minutes of silence, a roughly 40-50 second instrumental is heard. This hidden track basically sounds like a short instrumental version of “Wrong.”. Personally, I didn’t think this hidden track added anything to the album.

As a long-time Depeche Mode listener, I was a bit disappointed in Sounds of the Universe. While the album does have its moments, it’s not a strong unit as a whole. The first half is pretty strong, and there’s a couple of good songs in the second half. However, this is not an album I’m going to be pulling out and listening to in its entirety.

While Sounds of the Universe isn’t a bad album, it doesn’t rank as one of their better albums for me. It just doesn’t rank up there like Violator or Some Great Reward does. I was also disappointed in the band’s U.S. label in trying to force the fans to buy multiple copies of the album in an attempt to boost album sales. My husband and I ultimately went for the deluxe box set and the iTunes pass, since we couldn’t truly afford to justify buying the various store-specific pressings just to get one exclusive song on each that wasn’t available elsewhere.

(reviewed by Lesley Aeschliman in August 2011, reworked by Lesley Aeschliman on March 22, 2023)

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Album Review: Depeche Mode – “Music for the Masses”

Depeche Mode Music for the Masses

Music for the Masses is Depeche Mode’s sixth studio album, and it was released on September 28, 1987. The earliest memories I have of hearing Depeche Mode on the radio or seeing the videos on MTV was during the Music for the Masses era, and the first song I distinctly remember hearing is “Never Let Me Down Again.” At the time, I didn’t really like that particular song, but it grew on me over time as I got older and learned more about Depeche Mode. The song that really sold me on this album, and on the band as a whole, was the 1988 remix for “Strangelove.”

Music for the Masses opens with “Never Let Me Down Again,” which was the second single for the album. Sonically, this song makes for a great album opener. It has kind of a “heavy” sound to it musically, especially in the bassline, but it is still accessible to a mainstream listener. As the title suggests, it’s a song where the speaker hopes that they won’t be let down by a good friend.

This directly segues into the next song, “The Things You Said.” It has a “darker” feel to it musically, and it’s a sound that kind of fits into the “Depressed Mode” label that the band had picked up at that point in time. Lyrically, it’s a song where the speaker is confronting someone they know, saying that they heard about the things this person has been saying about the speaker behind their back.

The next song on Music for the Masses is “Strangelove.” It was originally released as the first single from the album, and it was later re-released with a new mix known as “Strangelove ’88.” Musically, it’s one of the more “mainstream” sounding songs on the album. Lyrically, it can be seen that the speaker is in a relationship which has facets to it that may not necessarily seem “normal.” An example of this is the line, “Will you take the pain I will give to you, again and again, and will you return it.”

“Strangelove” directly segues into “Sacred,” the next song on the album. Musically, it may not be quite as mainstream as “Strangelove,” but it’s not as “dark” as “The Things You Said.” Lyrically, the speaker is professing their romantic interest in another.

Next on Music for the Masses is “Little 15.” It was released as a single only in France, but ended up being released in the UK as an import and had some minor success there. Musically, the song has a “darker” sound to it, and it features a synth sound that is emulating the sound of strings. Lyrically, the song is about a girl who is about 15 years of age, and the speaker expressing some confusion over this girl.

This is followed by “Behind the Wheel,” which was released as the third single from the album. The music in this song brings up the tempo, and it’s one of the most upbeat songs on the album. Lyrically, the speaker is telling their romantic interest what they prefer in a relationship.

The next song on Music for the Masses is “I Want You Now.” Musically, it’s a rather haunting, yet seductive song. Lyrically, the speaker is expressing their feelings to someone they have an interest in. This song features Martin Gore on vocals, and his delivery adds to the ambience of the song.

This song segues directly into “To Have and to Hold.” Musically, it’s probably one of the darkest songs on the album. Lyrically, the speaker is expressing negative self-esteem, but at the end, there is an expression of hope, that “there’s someone who cares with a heart of gold, to have and to hold.”

“Nothing” is the next song on the album. Musically, this is more upbeat than most of the other songs that appear on the album. This is followed by “Pimpf,” which is a “harder” sounding song musically. While you can hear lyrics, it’s never been figured out what exactly for sure is being said. But there’s something about these “unintelligible lyrics” that adds to the song’s appeal.

There’s a hidden instrumental after “Pimpf,” which is titled, “Interlude #1 – Mission Impossible.” This instrumental lasts for 37 seconds.

When the album was originally released, there were “bonus tracks” on the cassette and CD pressings that were not on the vinyl pressing. The first of these was “Agent Orange,” which is a dark-sounding instrumental track. This is followed by two remixes: “Never Let Me Down Again [Aggro Mix]” and “To Have and to Hold [Spanish Taster].”

The album closes with the song, “Pleasure, Little Treasure.” It’s a more upbeat track compared to most of the songs on the album.

Overall, Music for the Masses is a very good album. Even when you include the remixes that were added as “bonus tracks,” it’s still an album I can listen to from beginning to end without skipping songs. Music for the Masses has gone on to become one of Depeche Mode’s biggest albums of all-time, and it’s easy to hear why after you listen to the album all the way through.

(reviewed by Lesley Aeschliman in September 2011, reworked by Lesley Aeschliman on March 21, 2023)

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Song Review: Winger – “Proud Desperado”

On March 10, 2023, Winger released “Proud Desperado,” the lead-off single from their forthcoming album, Seven, which is tentatively scheduled to be released in Spring 2023.

Admittedly, I’m most familiar with Winger’s material from the late 1980’s and the early 1990’s (“Seventeen,” “Headed For A Heartbreak,” “Can’t Get Enuff,” “Miles Away,” and “Easy Come Easy Go”), so I was caught a bit off-guard when “Proud Desperado” started. Compared to the band’s more “pop” material, this song really rocks. Wow! I found myself headbanging to this one by the end of it.

As soon as Kip Winger’s vocals started, I immediately recognized his voice and could hear that he’s still got it. He had a distinct voice back then, and I’m impressed that it still sounds as strong as it did 30+ years ago.

Lyrically, the song sees the speaker addressing the “proud desperado” that’s referred to in the title. The “proud desperado” is a rebel who took a violent stand and has been abandoned by those who they idolized in the aftermath. I don’t know if the song was directly inspired by any particular event (or events) of the past few years, but the lyrics definitely capture the vibe of the current era.

The lyrics, combined with the hard and driving feel of the music, make “Proud Desperado” a rock track worth checking out. If this song is any indication of what to expect from Seven, then I’ll be interested to hear what else the album has to offer.

But within a couple of weeks of each other, we’ve had new music from both Extreme and Winger, who had their greatest success in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Could this mark the beginning of a comeback for the rock bands from that era?

(reviewed by Lesley Aeschliman on March 20, 2023)

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Album Review: Depeche Mode – “Black Celebration”

Depeche Mode Black Celebration

Black Celebration is Depeche Mode’s fifth studio album and was released in 1986. The U.S. version of the album contains an extra song, “But Not Tonight,” which was used in the film Modern Girls. In the UK, this song was the B-side of the “Stripped” single. Since it is the U.S. pressing of the album that I own, I will be reviewing that version.

Black Celebration is one of the band’s “darker” releases, and it is also the Depeche Mode album to feature the most songs with Martin Gore on lead vocals. Martin provides the lead for “A Question of Lust,” “Sometimes,” “It Doesn’t Matter Two,” and “World Full of Nothing.” The remaining songs on the album feature Dave Gahan on lead vocals.

The album opens with the title song, and it ultimately sets the tone for the entire release. It’s definitely “darker” in sound when compared to the four previous albums released by the band at that point.

“Fly on the Windscreen-Final” is a re-worked version of a song that was released as a B-side for the “It’s Called a Heart” single. The song was re-worked to include new effects and to make it more stereophonic. Personally, I don’t think the new effects really added much to the song, but I think making it more stereophonic strengthened the music.

“A Question of Lust” is one of the ballads on the album, and Martin’s voice works perfectly on it. It’s not only my favorite song from Black Celebration, but it also ranks up there as one of my favorite Depeche Mode songs of all-time.

“Sometimes” is a roughly two-minute ballad sung by Martin Gore. The vocals use a lot of echo, and several layers are utilized. It’s not a bad song, but it’s not as strong as “A Question of Lust.”

“It Doesn’t Matter Two” runs for about three minutes and is a midtempo ballad. The previous album, Some Great Reward, had a song called “It Doesn’t Matter,” but I’m not entirely sure if this song is meant to be a “sequel” to it or not. Personally, I prefer “It Doesn’t Matter” over “It Doesn’t Matter Two.”

“A Question of Time” is one of the more uptempo numbers on the album, and for the sequencing of the album, is a welcome change of pace after going through three ballad and/or midtempo tracks in a row.

“Stripped” is more of a midtempo song, and probably ranks right below “A Question of Lust” as one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s basically a song about how the speaker wants to get to know the “real” person that they’re talking to, which is best shown by the lyric, “Let me see you stripped down to the bone.”

“Here is the House” is a song where the speaker is reminiscing about memories made with a love interest in the house that he is in. While Dave may have the lead vocals here, Martin’s backup vocals are very prominent and really add something to the track.

“World Full of Nothing” is another slower song. To me, it’s not as good as “A Question of Lust,” but is stronger than “Sometimes” or “It Doesn’t Matter Two.”

“Dressed in Black” runs for about two-and-a-half minutes and is a midtempo song. It’s not a bad song, but it’s not one of personal favorites on the album.

“New Dress” is a song blasting the British media, because at the time the song was written, it seemed the British media was more interested in what new dress or outfit that Princess Diana of Wales was wearing, instead of the more important and hard-hitting stories of the day.

On the U.S. version, the album closes with “But Not Tonight,” which is probably one of the most “positive” songs on the album. Personally, I like the song, but it really does stand out like a sore thumb compared with the rest of the album.

Black Celebration is a decent Depeche Mode release, but for me, it just doesn’t quite rank up there with Violator or Some Great Reward.

(reviewed by Lesley Aeschliman in September 2011, reworked by Lesley Aeschliman on March 20, 2023)

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Song Review: Extreme – “Rise”

On March 1, 2023, Extreme announced that it would be releasing Six, the band’s first new studio album in 15 years, on June 9, 2023. “Rise” has been released as the first single to promote the upcoming release.

For listeners who may only be familiar with band’s pop hits (“More Than Words,” “Hole Hearted,” and “Rest In Peace”), “Rise” may come as a shock. However, for listeners who are more familiar with the band’s discography will hear that “Rise” has more in common with their earlier and harder material.

Nuno Bettencourt’s guitar work is fantastic on “Rise.” In an interview with Consequence of Sound, Bettencourt talked about his guitar playing on the upcoming album: “When Eddie Van Halen passed, it really hit me. I’m not going to be the one who will take the throne, but I felt some responsibility to keep guitar playing alive. So, you hear a lot of fire on the record.” And just from listening to “Rise,” I can hear that fire that he’s talking about.

When it comes to the lyrics for the new material, vocalist Gary Cherone told Consquence of Sound, “Lyrically, it’s a cautionary tale on the rise and fall of fame.” When listening to the lyrics of “Rise,” you can tell that this theme is present. The theme is the most blatant in the chorus, but you can also see it in some of the song’s later verses.

The driving sound of the song works with the theme of the song and helps to emphasis the song’s message. Gary Cherone’s vocals are in fine form here, and it adds the punch that this song needs. For me, this song rocked so much that I found myself banging my head to it by the time it was finished. The combination of the music and Gary’s vocals make “Rise” a rock song worth checking out.

If “Rise” is any indication of what Six is going to sound like, then I’ll be interested in hearing what the album has to offer.

(reviewed by Lesley Aeschliman on March 19, 2023)

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Album Review: Zedd – “Clarity”

Zedd Clarity

German dance producer Zedd released his debut album, Clarity, on October 2, 2012.

My husband and I first heard about Zedd when we were hearing “Spectrum” on KNHC 89.5 FM in Seattle, Washington. After hearing the song, “Clarity,” my husband decided to take a chance and purchase the Clarity album, since we really liked both of the singles that we had heard from the album. After my husband and I listened to this album, we were not disappointed by what we had heard.

The album opens with “Hourglass,” which features vocals by LIZ. This midtempo track utilizes sound effects well to fit in with the theme of the song, and LIZ provides a very strong vocal performance that complements the sound of the song.

“Shave It Up” was released as the first single from Clarity, and this instrumental is an uptempo track that’s very friendly for the dance clubs. One of the things that really stood out to me was the strings appearing during the break, because I thought this was a nice touch to add to this song.

Next is “Spectrum,” a song featuring vocals by Matthew Koma. This was released as the second single from Clarity, and it’s one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s a danceable song with lyrics that tell a rather simple love story.

“Lost At Sea” features vocals by Ryan Tedder, the frontman for OneRepublic. Tedder’s vocal delivery works well for this mistempo track, and I thought the falsetto he has when he sings the word “sea” adds a nice touch to the song.

The title song, which features vocals by Foxes, was released as the fourth single from the album. One of the most striking aspects of this song is the intensity of Foxes’ vocal performance. When I listen to this song, I can believe that Foxes isn’t just simply singing words and that her performance brings an emotional intensity that feels authentic.

Next is “Codec,” and it’s the longest track on the album. This instrumental really picks the tempo back up after “Clarity,” and it uses a much heavier bassline in comparison to the other songs on Clarity. It’s a great track for the dance clubs, but I thought it was a little on the long side for someone sitting and listening to the album at home. While it’s a good song, I think it would have been stronger if it had been just a little bit shorter.

“Stache” was released as the third single from Clarity, and it’s another instrumental track. When I listened to this song, I thought that the bassline almost sounded like it came out of an 8-bit videogame.

Next is “Fall Into the Sky,” which features vocals by Ellie Goulding. Goulding turns in a good vocal performance, but I wish she had more words to sing for this track. The only vocals for this track are the same few lines that show up throughout the song’s nearly four minute long runtime.

“Follow You Down” features vocals by Bright Lights, and it’s closest thing to a ballad that Clarity has to offer. The album closes with “Epos,” which is a midtempo instrumental track.

Clarity provides a good mixture of instrumental and vocal tracks, and the songs flow together rather smoothly to make the album sound rather cohesive. In fact, I would go so far to say that Clarity is one of the best dance albums that I’ve personally heard in a while.

(reviewed by Lesley Aeschliman in March 2013, reworked by Lesley Aeschliman on March 18, 2023)

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Album Review: Depeche Mode – “Delta Machine”

Depeche Mode Delta Machine

Depeche Mode is releasing their 13th album, Delta Machine, on March 26, 2013. However, a preview stream of the album was available at iTunes for a limited time, and I was able to listen to the stream. This review is based on listening to this iTunes stream.

The album opens with “Welcome to My World,” which is a slow to midtempo track that begins with a minimal music track. The music builds as the song progresses, and Dave’s vocals are in fine form. Admittedly, the track is a little slow to get going. However, once it does, it’s an enjoyable listen. This was best song to open the album with.

“Angel” is the next song, and it flows directly out of “Welcome to My World.” The song starts out with a slower tempo, but the tempo picks up as the song progresses. Dave’s vocal delivery really makes me think of one of the songs from Dave’s solo album, Paper Monsters (I’m thinking it’s “Black and Blue Again” that it’s making me think of). This isn’t a bad song at all, and it flows well out of “Welcome to My World.”

This is followed by “Heaven,” the lead-off single for Delta Machine. This is a slower song in tempo. In some respects, it’s kind of like “Condemnation” from Songs of Faith and Devotion, but without the intensity of “Condemnation.” Also, the focus on the instrumentation between the two songs is a little different. After hearing the single, it’s one of the few slower songs on the album that would work as a single.

Next is “Secret to the End,” which picks up the tempo of the album. To me, I can definitely hear a Violator-era vibe to this song, and it’s one of the more “pop friendly” tracks on the album. It’s catchy and memorable, and I personally believe this should be released as a single from Delta Machine.

“My Little Universe” slows the album back down. To me, this is probably the weakest song on Delta Machine. The beginning of the song is a little awkward, and it sounds as if Dave’s vocals and the music really don’t meld together well. Unfortunately, this awkwardness remains for quite a bit of the song before the music and vocals finally sound as if they actually go together. By the time the song reached this point, I had lost interest in it.

This is followed by “Slow,” and the tempo of the song lives up to its title. Musically, this feels like a cross between the percussion of the Songs of Faith and Devotion era and the music of Dave Gahan’s Paper Monsters album. It’s not a bad song, but I think I would have liked it a little better if it hadn’t directly followed “My Little Universe.”

“Broken” brings the tempo back up to a mid-to-uptempo range. Dave uses his deeper vocal range for this song, and the combination of Dave’s vocal performance with the music makes this a nice change of pace from the previous two songs. While this would make for a decent single from the album, I don’t think it’s quite as “single friendly” as “Secret to the End” is.

“The Child Inside” slows the album back down, and it’s the only song on Delta Machine to feature Martin Gore on lead vocals. Musically, it’s the type of song that Depeche Mode fans have come to expect for one to feature Martin on lead vocals.

“Soft Touch / Raw Nerve” picks the tempo back up. It’s a nice song, but there are times that the bassline makes me think of a U2 song (specifically, “Even Better Than the Real” Thing from Achtung Baby). However, once you look past that, this is a catchy song that would also have potential if it was released as a single from Delta Machine.

Next is “Should Be Higher,” which slows the tempo of the album down again. One of the most notable things about this song is the fact that Dave Gahan is hitting a slightly higher register than usual during the chorus of the song. The use of this higher register like this really enhances the song. If the band wants to promote another slower song from Delta Machine as a single, then this would probably be the best one to release.

The tempo picks back up with “Alone,” a song that utilizes a heavier bassline than one would normally associate with Depeche Mode. The musical elements of this song are actually rather interesting, and they work well not just with each other, but with the vocal performance as well.

Soothe My Soul” is next, and it’s another catchy song on the album. The chorus is especially catchy, and it features a nice trade-off in the vocals between Dave Gahan and Martin Gore. From what I’ve read, “Soothe My Soul” is supposed to be the second single from Delta Machine. While this wouldn’t have been my first choice for the second single, this song is a decent single choice. It will be interesting to see how this single is received.

The album closes with “Goodbye,” and it works well for this position both with its title and for the sonic feel of the song. Musically, I can really hear an influence from Songs of Faith and Devotion, with the guitar part sounding reminiscent to “I Feel You.” The lyrical delivery also reminds me of “Breathe” from Exciter.

The one major thing I have to say about Delta Machine is the fact that this album has the energy that I felt the Songs of the Universe album was lacking. I read in interviews that the band had been trying to recapture the vibe of the Violator and the Songs of Faith and Devotion albums while recording this one. While I can’t say that this album is the “second coming” of either of these albums, I can say that the listener can hear the influences that these two Depeche Mode albums had on Delta Machine.

Even with the disappointment of “My Little Universe,” I’m still wanting to get a hold of the Delta Machine album on CD when it’s released on March 26, 2013.

(reviewed by Lesley Aeschliman in March 2013)