In anticipation of Garbage


As regular readers of this blog will know, I am a big fan of alt-rock band Garbage consisting of the enigmatic Shirley Manson as well as multi-talented producers / musicians Butch Vig, Duke Erickson and Steve Marker.  For twenty years I have loved everything about this highly creative four-piece and even got the chance to go and see them live last November.  So this year holds a lot of further excitement for me as a fan as they are readying the release of their sixth studio album.  The as-yet-untitled record is set for release some time in May and has to be said is highly anticipated by myself and the legion of dedicated fans.  The other day Shirley herself took to Facebook and Twitter to announce they had sent the finished product to their record label in preparation for whatever takes place before it’s release and even revealed a brand new band photo as a little taster of what’s to come (see below).

Garbage 2016Hints and small samples of the album suggest a somewhat darkly gothic, semi-romantic tone and I’m expecting it to be something a little different from these musical pioneers who have always experimented with many styles, but ultimately come up with one that sounds uniquely their own thing.

There is also going to be a world tour this year to promote the album and Garbage have already got themselves booked at several festivals in the summer, albeit ones in Germany only at this stage.  Will I go and see them again?  I’d like to think so but last year felt very special and a bit of an unexpected opportunity considering I don’t really have friends who are into them like I am.  But you never know.  I also predict we’ll see more publicity and hype leading up to the album’s release and possibly a new single out in time for Record Store Day in April, an event the band have taken part in for a number of years now, so that should be a fair prediction.

For now I’ll leave you with some awesome footage of Garbage performing one of their most well known hits, last November at Brixton Academy in London – incidentally on the same night I was actually there!  Video courtesy of Youtuber ‘Kotsidinio

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Garbage and a dream realised


garbagebrixtondatesWell, it was a long time coming but on Monday the 9th of November 2015, I finally got to see my favourite band Garbage in concert at Brixton Academy, London.  The near-sold out show was such an incredible experience that putting it into words isn’t easy.  I had a long wait, queuing up for a few hours before finally finding my seat and waiting again.  There was a long wait until the support act The Dutch Uncles came on, who were enjoyable even if their music seemed a bit ‘samey’.  However it was a good indication of the decibels I was about to be assaulted with.

Video courtesy of Youtuber eStorm

Following this was a really cool intro, that involved a white sheet dropping to cover the stage and surrounding area entirely, then an archival video to the tune of Garbage b-side Alien Sex Fiend showed footage of the band back in ’95 along with a commentary on their origins in Madison, Wisconsin along with news footage of Princess Diana, OJ Simpson and the beginnings of the Internet.  This all then built up to the four members being presented in tall large images one after the other.  Then it was time for the first song, Subhuman which was performed entirely behind the sheet with the members only visible as silhouettes.  Very bold and utterly ingenious.  As this occurred I recalled actually shaking with excitement, an overload of emotions and feelings that I’ll admit brought tears to my eyes.

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A picture taken by my brother from where we were seated

I won’t go into too much detail of the show which spanned almost two hours and covered approximately 23 tracks spanning the entire first album and nine b-sides – topped off with an encore that threw in a couple of tracks off other albums which were Cherry Lips and Push It.  Throughout the guys and Shirley were on fine form – for a 49 year old Shirley Manson’s energy was intoxicating – she jumped and danced and head-banged around the stage like a woman half her age, and it was incredible to witness.  In between some songs she told stories, such as her strong feelings regarding the LGBT community as well as funny anecdotes like how cold she was walking to Smart studios to do some recording, and the frozen hairs in her nose inspired her to write the song Driving Lesson (because she wished at that moment she could drive).  Little moments like that and the rather emotional story of Kick My Ass detailing the tragic suicide of song writer Vic Chestnut made the night even more special.

garbage-by-frank-mojica-08Highlights for me musically were performances of Not My Idea (really got the crowd going that one), Fix Me Now (sounded amazing), Only Happy When It Rains, Stupid Girl (excellent light show), Kick My Ass (a beautiful song that again got me very emotional) and also Cherry Lips (a real crowd participation anthem).  Less effective, due to the immense sound and volume were As Heaven Is Wide (Shirley seemed to get drowned out by the guitars and drums) and to an extent Vow which felt too harsh and intense to completely appreciate.    But I’m a concert novice and it probably was too loud and over-powering at times for me … yet the good seriously outweighed the not so good, and the high production values, that glorious intro, Shirley’s sheer exuberance and various brilliantly delivered songs overshadowed any quibbles.

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Garbage blew the roof off Brixton on Monday and the whole event won’t be something I’ll get over for a very long time.  So thank you Garbage – you made this long-time fan very happy indeed.

Darkling4Life.

Happy 20th anniversary Garbage!


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Garbage debutToday (August 15) marks the official 20th anniversary since the debut album by alternative rock pioneers ‘Garbage’ was first unleashed on an un-suspecting industry.  As I have wrote on here several times, Garbage remain my favourite band and over a twenty year career, they have meant more to me than any other.  Their varied and versatile approach to music has created for me some of the most memorable and interesting songs I’ve heard, and the 1995 début is packed full of stand outs such as Only Happy When It Rains, Vow and Stupid Girl.  I went into much more detail about my love for this band on my tribute HERE, but for now fans and music enthusiasts alike can look forward to an imminent re-issue of the album that will come in special packaging and on two CDs that houses a re-mastered version of the original album and all the b-sides and remixes that came out around that time.  The album will also be released on Vinyl.  This will then lead up to the celebratory ’20 Years Queer’ tour that kicks off in America in October before heading to Europe.

Exciting times for any fan of this multi-talented band.

The Chemicals – a review


orig-21265987As part of my on-going blogging revolving around the alt-rock band Garbage, I decided to write a little review of their most recent release, the Record Store Day exclusive ‘The Chemicals’ a collaboration with Silver Sun Pickup’s singer Bryan Aubert.  It was initially released on April 18 on a vinyl single alongside the b-side ‘On Fire’.  Certainly a very exciting day for Garbage fans world-wide as this was leading up to their recently announced 20 Years Queer tour as well as their much anticipated sixth album, scheduled for release at the end of 2015 / beginning of 2016.  The single is also out on iTunes on 02 June.

The Chemicals

Garbage_The_ChemicalsSince its release, I’ve played this track and re-played it and couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t hitting me like other classics from this imaginative and multi-talented band. Then one night, after not listening to the track for a while, I gave it another go.

I certainly love the start, that electronic beat with a rumbling, distant explosion effect … very ‘them’ and announced this track as a band certainly not losing their touch. The guitars that follow also build excitement and as momentum increases, singer Shirley Manson’s haunting, heavily-processed (?) vocals kick in. The iconic Scottish-born singer sounds authoritive and rather seductive. The lyrics are also effective, with a myriad of layered meanings that I can’t say I understand but still appreciate like in many of Garbage’s more complex song writing (‘Hammering In My Head’ comes to mind).  As the track progresses we’re hit with an assault of heavy beats and intensely delivered ‘I need your heaven’, which at first overwhelms, yet with further thought, does create a powerful feeling that perfectly slips into the extended, down-beat and hypnotic ‘The Chemicals’. This part acts more like an instrumental than a conventional chorus with varying ways the title is repeated along with the gradual power of guitars and drums. In these segments that we get twice, Bryan Auburt’s voice certainly brings an extra layer to the song, giving the listener things to notice only after repeat plays.  Also that ending, as the title is repeated then quits and we get the guitars strumming and the beats and the heavy riffs until … nothing, Wow.

I’d call this Garbage developing their signature-sound for a modern era. Their last album ‘Not Your Kind Of People’ blended old and some new but felt mostly familiar (not a bad thing).  However as we’ve heard with ‘Girls Talk Shit’ and The Chemicals’ equally layered B-Side ‘On Fire’, new Garbage; delivered with an echo of the past but with a strong vibe of something the band haven’t majorly explored before, isn’t as scary as I initially thought.  I can’t say I totally love it now, but have started to appreciate the track a lot more now that I’ve got my head around Garbage’s new approach and wealth of ideas at play.

On a side note, as interesting a concept as the video is, I think it’s overly intense style and setting does the song a slight disservice.  For me, The Chemicals works best without any visual accompaniment.

An update and stuff


So what have I been up to lately?  Well I managed to complete Assassin’s Creed Unity on the PS4, the first AC game I have ever kept interested in until the end.  Why?  I think setting was key.  Of the previous games in the series I have played, most have been set either in medieval (AC 1 & 2) or around the time of the crusades (AC 3) and well, the pirating of AC4 never appealed so I didn’t play that one.  However this one was set in Paris, during the revolution, the time of Napoleon etc. and it was a brilliantly atmospheric setting I personally have plenty of interest in. 

Secondly I have been playing Grand Theft Auto V.  Now eagle-eyed readers of this blog may recall me posting about it a while back when I got it on the Xbox 360.  Well, for one reason or another I didn’t play it all that much of it, and since jumping to the next-generation with the PS4 and Xbox One, I thought it was high time I took a second look following it’s revamped re-release on these consoles.  I picked it up on PS4, and must say for what is technically a last-gen title, the detail (with improved textures, lighting, effects as well as an enhanced array of music on the various radio stations) it’s one of the best looking games I have played to date.  GTA V is a fantastic game following the exploits of three characters; Michael the former gangster now in witness protection, Franklin the stereotypical gang-banger hoodlum and Trevor the meth-dealing lunatic.  The missions are cinematic and the world is alive and complex and massive.  There are a ton of things to see and do and it never feels boring.  I’m loving it.  Check out a few screenshots I took with the PS4 to show off how damn gorgeous this next-gen version looks in the flesh:

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On the gaming horizon (next Tuesday to be specific) is The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt.  A heavily hyped and very well reviewed game that I have pre-ordered for my Xbox One.  From everything I have read and seen, it’s sounding like it will be a mammoth RPG adventure to rival the likes of The Elder Scrolls and Final Fantasy, with you as a bad-ass monster hunter known as Garalt, who inhabits a huge world that is one of the biggest apparently ever made and full of detail, missions, characters and true next-gen visuals.  I have watched some gameplay and read several reviews, and suffice to say I am VERY excited.  Roll on May 19th … I’ll do an early impressions some time in the week.

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In other news, I’ve sadly not managed to secure a trip to the cinema to see The Avengers: Age Of Ultron yet and can see it being a Blu-ray review later in the year.  The same might go for Mad Max Fury Road, but I’m still optimistic about getting to see that one, so watch this space (and no, going by myself doesn’t appeal all that much).  I have a few movies on the agenda however, the names of which I’ll keep to myself for now and let you be surprised when I post the reviews.  Yeah, I’m all about the tease.

On the TV watching front I have been pretty addicted to Better Call Saul, that breaking Bad spin-off starring everyone’s favourite crooked attorney Saul Goodman (or Jimmy Magill as he’s currently known).  It seems to have all the polish and great writing of Breaking Bad (well, it is by Vince Gilligan after all) and just keeps getting better and better.  I’m also watching The Following season 3 (yeah, yeah I know…we’re not getting a season 4…boo hiss) which has again been brilliant this year.  Clearly there is no accounting for taste, so another show hits the skids.  Talking of TV, I’m also looking forward to season 3 of Orange Is The New Black, a show at first I wasn’t entirely sure was me … the first series was good but a little lightweight, but with an excellent and gripping season 2, I am now officially a fan.  Damn Netflix just keeps on giving, doesn’t it?  I am also watching Brit drama Luther on it at the moment which stars popular actor Idris Elba as a tough Police detective who specialises in catching serial killers – right up my alley.

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So other than the above, and getting over some man-flu and a tickly cough that just won’t quit … it’s been all about work, which is going very well.  I am learning some new stuff to do more with secretarial tasks and finding it challenging and educational.  Love it when my job gives me those opportunities to learn new skills and I think it helps build a real profile and shape me for the future.  I’m also of course still looking forward to finally seeing my favourite band Garbage in November when they appear at Brixton Academy in London.  It’s going to be such a once in a life time experience for me, someone who doesn’t really get such opportunities.  I have my big brother to thank for making this happen and with my 40th birthday very much right after, November is looking to be a real belter.

Well, enough from me for now.  Hope you’re all having fun in whatever you’re all up to and continue to check in on me and this blog regularly for more updates, reviews and gaming impressions.

Craig.