Monthly Archives: November 2014
I’ve felt like a teenager again these past few months because there have been a flood of iconic 80’s bands releasing new material. Information Society, (one of my all-time favorites), put out their first new album in 20 years; and on the very same day, Erasure also put out a new CD.
Before I review the aforementioned albums, I should also mention the release of not one, but two new records by Prince. I’ve been tempted to break out the Gumby earring and jump Hammer pants first into the bubble gum decade that raised me.
Spoiler alert: All four albums are good. In fact, some of their best works respectively. Prince especially surprised me with his Lenny Kravitz-esque funk feel. (Incidentally, Lenny also released a new album, and it too is a worthy addition to his already hearty catalog).
If you ever wondered why Prince changed his name to a symbol for a few years here, in a nutshell, is the reason. He was feuding with his then record company and refused to give them any more of his music. However, they technically owned his name so he released material on a different label without it until his contract ran out.
One of the two new Prince releases was written and recorded with a new partner in rhyme, 3rdeyegirl, whom I had never heard of but who has clearly been given a high position in the New Power Generation. Their CD, Plectrum Electrum, does not play out like a corny duets album, but instead has an effortless blend of both their talents. The style is all Prince but the addition of 3rdeyegirl adds a valuable and enjoyable layer to his brand of sexually charged songs.
There are moments of pure wisdom as well. I site a line from the song, Aintturninround, where they sing “Maybe the hand you’re looking for is at the end of your arms.”
Most reviewers have preferred the more upbeat and produced Plectrum Electrum, and Lord knows my 80’s ear loves the catchy tunes and bleep blorpy treatments mixed with a healthy dose of solid Prince guitar, but it’s his solo album that I think is the stronger of the two.
Art Official Age is just the sort of random album title I would expect from Prince, and the motif of the third eye is carried through this twin release. Prince explores several different musical styles, but funk and soul seem to be his flavor at the moment. (If his hair is any indication he’s reliving 1979.)
Overall, both albums are strong and fun to listen to. Prince is clearly enjoying his rebirth and only time will tell if the radio stations reward his efforts.
Now on to Erasure’s new CD, The Violet Flame. It’s their 16th studio album which is impressive enough, but when you remember that Vince Clarke also founded Depeche Mode and had a two album career with Alison Moyett as the band Yaz, it becomes down right impressive.
Erasure has embraced the more aggressive production styles of late and their low end is represented well enough to give the kids something to thump in their car stereos (if any kids even know who Erasure is). At times it’s laid back, but at others it sounds more like the violent flame and I’m happy to report that there isn’t a single dud on the entire album.
Andy Bell is in fine voice and it has the best overall flow of all four records. This was of great relief to me because I tend to get very disappointed when good bands produce bad albums. Not this time.
Finally, the longest break between new recordings came from Information Society, whose new collection of songs called, _hello world, has one foot firmly planted in the past while the other is stepping into the future of their music.While there are a few unsuccessful attempts on this album, the eight or so songs that I do like are wonderfully layered and jam-packed with interesting sounds and bold beats. I have always liked Kurt’s vocals, and he doesn’t sound like he’s aged a day. (But the photo on the back of the album shows a trio so ugly they could be honorary members of the Traveling Wilburys).
Many good bands are filled with gargoyles. Yes, for instance should have never included photos of the band members because people kept thinking that they were looking at a team photo of the 1988 Boston Celtics.
Although I skip around from song to song on the new Information Society album, I find myself putting it in more than the others. The music is just that exciting and makes me want to explore more of it. I hope all of these acts receive enough success and encouragement with these new projects to keep them artistically inclined because I would love to hear more from all of them. (And I don’t want to wait another twenty years to do it).
It’s the simple fact that none of these acts tried to re-invent themselves that makes these albums good. They did what they do best and had fun doing it. As a result, I’m having fun listening.
Our thanks to Mrs. Kebabs Kindle for this 4 star review of Exposure!
This month’s Random Fan is fellow author N. Michaels. Her book, Emerald Eyes, is the first in a series and is now available via Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Emerald-Eyes-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00GNIOG26/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1415932553&sr=1-1&keywords=emerald+eyes+n.+michaels
Morgan and Jennifer: Tell us a bit about the Emerald Eyes trilogy. And what can readers expect from the second book, Onyx Heart?
N. Michaels: Hello and thank you having me! I’m a big fan of yours. I loved Exposure! 🙂
The Emerald Eyes Trilogy came to me after the market was over saturated with plots that resembled Fifty Shade of Grey. They all had a domineering man and a virginal, naive woman.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and am a huge fangirl of E L James (I can’t wait for the movie!), but I was bored of reading the same type of plot over and over in so many different books, and during a conversation with one of my best friends, Ella, I told her as much.
Her response was immediate, “Write what you want to read then.”
And I did.
Katherine Slav, my heroine, appeared in my mind and began telling me her story. And then she told me about Eric Miller, and I was hooked.
Katherine is anything but naive, or shy. She’s confident in herself and her beauty. She doesn’t take BS from anyone, and that includes Eric.
Eric is a mystery, even to me sometimes. He’s very guarded and shares only what needs to be known. I’m still slipping through the cracks of his armor to figure him out.
I began writing during the day while my babies were napping and late night/early morning while the house was asleep.
The moment I reached the middle of the book, I knew how to end it. I leaned back in my chair and whispered, “Oh shit!” I grabbed my phone and called my second best friend, Milana and told her about the ending. She listened until the end and then she was tearing up, telling me I had to publish it.
Milana was with me every step of the way, I would write a few chapters, call her and read them to her. If I didn’t write for a few days she would call me to nag and motivate me. “You can’t leave me hanging like this! What happens after Mark enters the suite?”
She was a source of encouragement and support and still is, and for that, I thank her. ♡
After finishing writing Emerald Eyes, the second book in the trilogy, Onyx Heart began to unfold in my mind. I always take notes and write whatever happens at that moment. I even have a few key scenes from the third and last book written down.
My mind will show me the most important moments, like a slide reel, and when I sit down to write the rest just flows and all those scenes come together.
N. Michaels: Where did the idea for Exposure come from?
Jennifer: One afternoon several years ago, I was spending a day at home doing the laundry. Laundry is never my favorite thing to do, but according to the rest of my family I have some talent for it so I own it.
Not surprisingly, my mind began to wander while I plodded through the chore. As I was trying to carry a particularly large and awkward load of clothing from the utility room, I began thinking about what I’d really like to do with the bundle of clothing obstructing my line of sight as I negotiated some stairs.
That’s when I suddenly pictured Shaunna Noble storming out of Kyle Petersen’s movie set trailer and throwing all his clothes to the fans gathered nearby. And as I folded, hung up and put away the clean laundry, I kept replaying that picture and adding more and more elements to it until an entire scene was completely formed in my imagination.
Morgan and Jennifer: If you could change into any animal (and back) what animal would it be and why?
N. Michaels: If we’re talking about a real animal, it would be a black panther.
Reason: I’ve always loved cats, big or small. It’s the first place I’d run to when I’d go to the zoo, and as a child, I used to sneak stray cats and kittens into our home.
But why the black panther in particular?
That’s because when my late grandfather saw me as a baby for the first time he called me, Miegera, which in Russian slang means wild and rebellious woman, and for some unknown reason, the word reminds me of Bagheera, the black panther (black Indian leopard) who is a fictional character in Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli stories in The Jungle Book (coll. 1894) and The Second Jungle Book (coll. 1895).
If we’re talking about a mythical creature, I’d have to choose the Phoenix (which is actually one of the symbols for my astrologic sign, Scorpio.)
Reason: immortality and the ability to reinvent myself over and over again. To know with confidence that even after my fire has burned bright and I’m all but ashes, I will be reborn wiser and stronger.
N. Michaels: If you both could choose only one superpower, what would it be?
Morgan: At first, I wanted to pick invisibility but there’s no way to convince you people that it’s not to watch girls undress, so I’m picking invulnerability. If I can’t get hurt, there’s not much I couldn’t or wouldn’t do for mankind.
Jennifer: I thought of the ability to fly, but then I remembered I’m afraid of heights and realized that power would likely end up being wasted on me. So, instead I’d have to say the ability to see the future. I feel more comfortable when I know how things stand. I don’t do well having to wallow in the unknown.
N. Michaels: What was your first impression of each other when you first met?
Morgan: The first thing I liked about Jennifer was her style. She was the kind of girl who wore a pony tail (or for those of you who remember, a banana clip) and converse sneakers. Her blonde hair had a curly Q thing going for it in the front that always reminded me of Egon’s hair in the Ghostbusters cartoon. She was easy to smile and fun to dance with, and by the end of the night I was in love.
Jennifer: The night we met, Morgan was literally the first person I noticed when I walked in the room. He was exuberant and clearly the life of the party. I was nursing a broken heart at the time and had to be literally dragged out of the house by my friend when she suggested a night out. When she saw that I’d noticed Morgan, she made sure we were introduced within the hour. Once we began talking it was clear that he was intelligent, funny as hell and a swoon-worthy gentleman. By the time I returned home, I knew I’d met someone special.
Morgan and Jennifer: We see that (like Jennifer) you a wife, a mother and work full-time. How do you juggle all of this and find time for writing too? Maybe we could trade time management tips.
N. Michaels: At the time of writing Emerald Eyes I was a stay at home mom. I have trust issues when it comes to nannies and babysitters so I decided to stay home with them until they were big enough to go to daycare. I’m not passing judgment on those who do have nannies and babysitters, to each their own.
Currently, I am working full time (I’m actually typing this while on the bus on my way to Manhattan) and I usually write on the bus and on my days off. My full time job is very demanding and unfortunately, it slowed down my progress with Onyx Heart. I’d like to thank all my readers and friends who have been hounding me with emails and private messages regarding Onyx Heart’s release date, thank you for being so freaking wonderful, patient and supportive. ♡
So how do I juggle it all? I have an amazing mom and in-laws, who love my children as much I do. My husband learned to step in and take over when I can’t. Their help is how I manage to stay sane.
Thank you again for having me and for the lovely questions. I had a wonderful time! 🙂