Album Review: David Bowie-Blackstar (2016)

As you all must know, David Bowie is gone. His new album came out on his birthday (Friday), and he died on Sunday of cancer. My new acronym to best describe my feelings for this disease is F.Y.C. (hint, not Fine Young Cannibals). He apparently had been secretly fighting the cancer for 18 months. I was on the fence about this new album when I heard about it last fall. I haven’t really followed him since the mid 1980’s. He is one of those artists though that you could lose track of for over 30 years, then jump right back on the band wagon. His talent bridges generations.

I am 100% certain that David knew the end was near. This was to be his Swan Song album. There are numerous references in at least 3 songs on the album about death. It has been roughly 10 years since David Bowie has performed live, and he has largely stayed out of the public eye. I saw some of the shows he did 10 years ago, and it seemed like his voice was gone. This album was his last kick at the cat, and he wanted to do it his way. This is not some corporate obligation album. This is David Bowie, doing what he does best in the 21st century.

Blackstar – A nearly 10 minute song to begin the album. The marching drums and the saxophone fill the background, while David wails and moans. As the song picks up the pace a bit, the vocals become more discernible and melodic. The bass has a low pound and the chants mix with flutes into a hypnotic trance.

‘Tis A Pity She Was A Whore – “Man She Punched Me Like A Dude”. That tends to happen when you call someone a whore, David. I read the lyric sheet and it didn’t include some of the lines from this song. Naughty, naughty. The album even got the dreaded Parental Advisory Explicit Content sticker. Good on you David. I’m sure the powers that be tried to talk you out of saying what you mean.

Lazurus – Nice drum beat, mellow bass and soothing sax start this song off. The vocals and guitar kick in like a mule. They make you sit up and take notice. “Look up here, I’m in Heaven.” Abso(fucking)lutely foreshadowing his future. “Everybody Knows Me Now” Well duh. This might be the best song on the album. I would suggest it may be his best since the 70’s. As for the video below, it could easily have slid right into The Wall movie. Hopefully it stays just as iconic.

Sue  (Or In A Season Of Crime) – This song reads out to me like a long, love story. Getting a job, buying a house, living together, bad news about your spouse, picking out a grave, finding her note about her affair. Heavy stuff. Perhaps it was David’s song by proxy.

Girl Loves Me – Have you ever wondered how David Bowie would sound while yodelling? Yodel Lahey who? You know you want to hear it don’t you? “Where the fuck did Monday go?” Since I heard the brutal news this morning, I have no idea David.

Dollar Days – The words jump off the vinyl and grab you by the throat. ” I’m dying to”. “I’m trying to.” A saxophone wails as we comprehend the news we heard, and realize that Dave will never, ever deliver us another album.

I Can’t Give Everything Away – I lift the needle before this song starts. There is something so surreal in listening to the very last song David Bowie will ever put out on an album. The man was a musical God. My ears perked up just a bit more, and I closed my eyes to avoid distractions, soak it in and I let the needle hit wax. It has kind of a dance beat/jazz beat to start. Then the electric guitar wailing takes the song in an area I enjoy more. If the last thing I remember about David Bowie is electric guitar and keyboards, that is ok in my book.

As for David Bowie’s contribution to music, I give 10/10. The man was a genius, and I will miss him. I liked him so much, I convinced my family to name our puppy after him.

As for the album 8/10. RIP David. Say hi to Ziggy for me. I’ll miss you both.

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Album Review: Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath (2014)

As some of you know I LOVE Black Sabbath. It was during one of my many Youtube searches of Sabbath songs that I stumbled upon this band, Brownout. They are a 9 piece, hardcore Latin funk band from Austin, Texas. It was during a period of extensive touring that the band devoted entire nights to covering other bands. The Black Sabbath covers were so hugely popular with the fans they chose to do an album. Some songs with vocals and some without. This album has a 70`s feel to it. Imagine if you will, Black Sabbath was doing a co-headlining tour with Santana in 1975. If the 2 bands decided to record together and re-record Sabbath songs, this LP might have been the result.

The Wizard – Bongos, and especially horns are the first things that let you know this isn`t your run of the mill Sabbath cover song. Alex Maas handles the vocals nicely.

Iron Man – Instrumental version with a gloomy, droan similar to the original. It sounds like something that could have fit right into a  70’s James Bond movie. Perhaps it could be used for an Iron Man movie sequel.

N.I.B – Another fuzzy, bass driven song. Alex Marrero makes another appearance on vocals.

Black Sabbath – The song that started it all for the band of the same title. More doom and gloom.

Hand of Doom – Deep, deep groovy bass moves this song along. Any punk in a slammed Honda would love to hear that oomph. Alex Maas mixes the vocal aspect up a bit. Amazing drumming, guitar and horn work round out this song.

Into The Void – Fuzzy guitars, horns and pounding drums.

Planet Caravan – Has a Merengue feel. David Jimenez performs remarkably on the vocals.

This album is wicked, in a good way. I never thought I would be hearing Sabbath played this way. But I love it. If you like the above videos, make sure you check out the Youtube clip of Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath – Full Performance on KEXP. It is 25 minutes of pure awesome. Or even better yet pick up this album.

9.5/10