Placebo: Never Let Me Go

Placebo are back with an explosion of melancholy and broken dreams.

When Placebo first entered the music scene, they were a novelty with their glam outsider looks trying to leave their mark in a scene dominated by Brit-pop ala Oasis and heavy masculinity. Today, Placebo are just as ambiguous as they were in 1996, and in a time when social media dominates our lives, frontman Brian Molko refuses to even have an Instagram or Twitter, and the band’s social media accounts are usually run by bassist, Stefan Osdal (the running joke being that you can always tell when it’s Molko posting on social media cause he’s like your tech-impaired uncle who texts in CAPS).

The world is very different from when Placebo left it nine years ago with their album Loud Like Love. Even Placebo are very different from when they left us, they’re no longer a three-member band, but they’re down to two members, and at this late in their career, maybe both Molko and Osdal don’t feel like anyone else can truly capture the essence of Placebo quite like they do. Never Let Me Go is a very different album from Loud Like Love. Musically, it has touches of their debut album, reminding me of their early songs like Come Home, Hang On To Your IQ, or Swallow. It also reminds me a lot of their B-Side instrumentals like Hug Bubble or Oxygen Thief.

Beautiful James is classic Placebo both musically and lyrically speaking, and although it’s the easiest song to recall because of the infectious hook, there are many other songs on the album that capture more fraught emotions. Forever Chemicals beautifully captures the uneasiness we’ve all been feeling these past few years. Musically the sounds are distorted and lyrically we have a Molko who’s been stuck in his own head for too long that it verges on the unhealthy.

The Prodigal begins with an enchanting harmony of strings, luring us into hopeful territory until the lyrics quickly remind us of our own mortality and the sadness of learning lessons towards the end, but with the hope of there being a light at the end of the tunnel. Went Missing is presented in spoken verse that almost feels like an intimate confessional of why someone would deliberately remove themselves from society, too disillusioned with it that the protagonist finds himself simply running away.

The majority of the album seeps with a yearning for lost youth but yet, has the wisdom to know that trying to live as you did in your youth probably wouldn’t have allowed you to still be alive. Although both musically and lyrically, Molko isn’t certain if being alive right now during these dire times is actually anything he bargained for, especially in songs like This Is What You Wanted, where he realises that everything he wanted didn’t make him happy, but rather left him feeling frustrated and empty.

Placebo are back, and like the rest of us, have grown disenchanted with modern society, and yet…there’s a twinkle of hope, and that’s what we can all hold on to, to keep on dreaming.

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Concert Review: Nick Cave & Warren Ellis at the Shrine Auditorium Los Angeles

Nick Cave is the sort of musician that easily has both men and women swooning in a matter of seconds. With his deep, sultry voice and lyrical music, it doesn’t take long for one to be transported into the darkest depths of human emotion. Most of the songs he performed that night were from 2019’s Ghosteen and some of the Bad Seed classics (I don’t know why I had a feeling he would play a song from the Murder Ballads and when the first notes of Henry Lee filled the venue, I was in musical heaven).

The energy was palpable and when Cave covered Cosmic Dancer (one of my fave songs from T.Rex) you could tell that magic was in the air (black magic in this case?).

Not being one to disappoint, Cave not only had an encore but TWO and during his second one, he was joined by a very special guest, Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers. All in all, it was an amazing show and one which you can only fully appreciate if you had been there.


SETLIST: NICK CAVE & WARREN ELLIS @ SHRINE AUDITORIUM, 3/9/2022
Spinning Song
Bright Horses
Night Raid
Carnage
White Elephant
Ghosteen
Lavender Fields
Waiting for You
I Need You
Cosmic Dancer
God Is in the House
Hand of God
Shattered Ground
Galleon Ship
Leviathan
Balcony Man
Encore:
Hollywood
Henry Lee
Encore 2:
We No Who U R
Into My Arms
Ghosteen Speaks



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MÅNESKIN: Why So Hot? Cause I’m Italiano

Maneskin is inarguably the hottest rock band on the scene, and it’s not hard to see why. The band composed by Romans, Damiano David, Victoria De Angelis, Thomas Raggi, and Ethan Torchio are not only talented but very attractive.

It’s not usual for an Italian band to reach international fame, and that’s why their triumph is a trailblazing and historic win for Italy. Like most bands nowadays, Maneskin tried their luck at X-Factor where they quickly became a household name as Manuel Agnelli (frontman of The Afterhours) took them under his wing. The band ended up placing second in the competition but they left the show with several covers and a solid fanbase under their belts.

I first heard of the band when their single, Torna A Casa came out in the summer of 2019. The song is a potent ballad that has the lead singer Damiano begging the enigmatic Marlena to return home (the band later explained that Marlena isn’t a love interest but rather the name they’ve given their muse). The album Il Ballo Della Vita references Marlena in several songs (as can be evidenced by my favourite song Le Parole Lontane).

What propelled Maneskin into the international spotlight was their win at the Eurovision Awards this year and I can’t help but also think that the popularity of TikTok and content creators’ continued use of their Four Seasons cover of Beggin’ further sealed the deal. But what truly cemented their fate as bonafide rockstars was when they opened for legendary band The Rolling Stones.

At a time where popstars and rappers reign supreme, Maneskin offers old-school glam rock reminiscent of David Bowie and T.Rex. The four members have talent and youth on their side and I’m certain that we can expect some very exciting things from them in the future. As Damiano sings on the track, Immortale, they’re not common stars, but comets and they’re determined to shine the brightest in the sky.

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Short Story: I’m Coming

photo of couple kissing in hallway

Photo by Flora Westbrook on Pexels.com

….and it’s over before I know it. A brief instant of ecstasy that fills me up to the brim.

Creating rainbow-colored clouds beneath my feet lifting me up to momentary heaven.

I am standing below the stage looking up at you. You stand over me with a regal posture. You own the universe. Your vibrant voice rings in my ears; it slides beneath every single pore to become a part of me. To become one with my essence.

Your eyes dive into mine. I can feel you swimming in my veins. You offer me a smile. I return it. You begin to walk down the stage stairs. The lights following every single minimal move you make.

The air is balmy inside the venue. My black lace top clings to my dewy skin. I try not to pay attention to the pain that shoots up and down my legs like miniature electric bolts. Five hours of standing on eight-inch heels make me realize that I hadn’t thought about the possible torture that I was going to subject myself to when I had pulled my knee-high leather boots over my feet.

You pass by the shouting girls. They are dying for your attention. But your eyes are locked on mine. I don’t look away. I fall into your gaze. I am going down a one-way spiral, and at the end of it, there is only you. I am taken into another realm…

Our bodies compress in a sweaty haze. You cling to my lips, sucking on them. Not wanting to let me go. Brown curls fell carelessly over your eyes. My hand reaches up to move them away. I am breathless. I want to savor the moment, as it was my last.

Breath against breath, lips against lips, naked flesh against naked flesh…

“Don’t forget to keep me alive in your mind,” you sing to me as I jump out of my daydream.

Your movements are graceful, feline. I can only plead that you will come nearer.

“Remember me whenever you feel obscene.”
Your eyes are burning tiny crevices in the center of my irises. My body is all giving. As well as all receiving.

And then you touch me….

That voice…those eyes…my hand traveling down the contours of my body. It runs over my plump breasts, my thumbnail grazing over my nipples. It shifts down to my navel and passes it, lowering itself down a little further. My hand is greeted by softness. My two fingers probe at its entrance that is enveloped in musky wetness.

There’s no need for knocking, a simple push and the door is opened. The two fingers cruise down a dark and humid corridor, a thrilling chill tingles throughout my body. I smile at you.

“Remember me whenever you feel obscene.”

Suddenly I can’t control my fingers anymore. They have a life of their own as they break into a frenzied rhythm. Faster…faster…faster…

I hear a shrill in my ears and my breath gets caught in my lungs but my fingers don’t stop. Faster…faster…faster…

My body is burning. Sweat slithers down like a sensuous snake. I feel a pounding in my head as though my membrane is being nailed to my skull.

I see you. I hear you.

And my body abandons itself to the senses. The wetness around my fingers contracts, tightening its grip on them. The wetness increases. It swells up like water in a dam until the dam is broken and there’s no turning back. Shocks race up and down my body. My vision blurs. Your face becomes a tapestry of vibrant colors. And then it fades to the bleakest black. The wetness releases its iron grip on my fingers. Liberating them in a yielding manner. They slide out of the murky tunnel restless and defeated.

I bring my hand up to my lips. My tongue flickers at the opaque whiteness coated on my fingers. You smile at me. I smile back.

Your hand loosens its grasp on my shoulder. You walk away. I am breathless. My knees feel weak as though they’re going to give in. I see you walking back up towards the stage. You look down at me and smile. I smile back at you, my body pricking from the aftershocks. My breath comes back to me. I am able to breathe again. My heart slows down to a normal sequence. My fingers are coated with your glitter. My tongue flutters at the tiny red specs of luminance. You smile down at me. I smile back. The pain in my feet makes itself be heard again. I look down.

“See you next time!” you shout.

I look up in time to see you smile at me one last time. I smile back and blow you a kiss that you pay no attention to.

My senses go dormant and it’s over before I know it.

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3 Beauty Trends I’m Loving

Trends come and go, and a lot of the times, I don’t follow trends, so the ones listed may not exactly be trending right now, but I’ve always been one to do my own thing. These three trends are ones I simply love or find inspiring. Beauty, especially makeup should be seen as an extension of your personality or emotions, so following trends isn’t a must if you’re more about expressing yourself (which is more what I tend to lean towards). Here are three beauty trends that I’m loving at the moment:

blueliner

BLUE EYELINER

Here’s the deal: There’s a circus way and a safe way to wear blue eyeliner without it becoming overbearing. The secret to this is to make it the focal point. What that means is that blue eyeliner pops the most when it’s paired with neutral eye makeup. When you pair blue eyeliner with other colors it tends to be too much and loses the ability to make your eyes the main focus. Whether you decide to place the blue eyeliner on the upper or lower lash line is our choice. I like either one and usually alternate. But balance is key. If you place blue eyeliner on the upper lash line, do NOT put it on the lower lash line too, and vice versa.

euphoria

GLITTER

Anyone who knows me knows of my eternal love for glitter. Maybe it’s the Marc Bolan in me wishing I had been a glam rocker in the 70’s or perhaps my recent binge-watching of Euphoria is to blame for my reacquaintance with my love for the sparkly. One thing is certain, glitter can really elevate your look. But here’s the tip on how to make it wearable every day and not just for the club: place glitter on cheeks like a highlighter and keep the rest of your makeup simple or your face bare. I think glitter looks the freshest when NOT paired with a ton of foundation or crazy contour. Euphoria really excelled in creating glitter looks that feel fresh, edgy, and totally wearable for every day.

blush

BLUSH

There’s just something youthful and innocent about rosy (or peachy) cheeks. Again, this look works best when paired with less makeup and you make your cheeks the focal point. I would suggest pairing rosy cheeks with minimal eye makeup (think only a heavy dose of black mascara) and lipgloss or lip stain. If you keep the rest of the makeup light, then the look won’t seem overbearing.

Balance is truly the key ingredient to achieving the most out of these looks. And honestly, with the warmer weather approaching, I’m less likely to wear heaps amounts of makeup (although I personally never wear foundation or contour).

Which trends do you prefer or are you willing to try out?

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Book Review: Open Book by Jessica Simpson

jess

You set my soul at ease, chased darkness out of view.

Release Date: February 4, 2020

Order on Amazon!

Publisher: Dey Street Books

Price: $18.06 (hardback)

Plot Summary:

This was supposed to be a very different book. Five years ago, Jessica Simpson was approached to write a motivational guide to living your best life. She walked away from the offer, and nobody understood why. The truth is that she didn’t want to lie.

Jessica couldn’t be authentic with her readers if she wasn’t fully honest with herself first.
Now America’s Sweetheart, preacher’s daughter, pop phenomenon, reality tv pioneer, and the billion-dollar fashion mogul invites readers on a remarkable journey, examining a life that blessed her with the compassion to help others but also burdened her with an almost crippling need to please. Open Book is Jessica Simpson using her voice, heart, soul, and humor to share things she’s never shared before.

Grade: A

Review:

Let me preface this with, I’m not a fan of Jessica Simpson. Sure I know of her from seeing her in teen mags in the late 90’s (who mostly focused on the fact that she was a virgin dating the much older Nick Lachey from 98 Degrees) than her music. In fact, I had never listened to any of her songs till recently (I wasn’t aware that MTV didn’t want to play her songs). But I was intrigued to read her memoir cause it seemed like a fun, spill-all type of book (yes, I’m nosy). And well, Jessica delivered on her promise to be an open book.

We learn some interesting things about her. How she went to the Chuck Norris school of acting (it basically consisted of him taping down her eyebrows because his fave actor is Denzel Washington and apparently he doesn’t move his eyebrows when delivering his lines). I never really noticed that tidbit, but I’m sure as hell gonna focus on Denzel’s eyebrows next time I see him in a movie.

Jessica is the sort of good-hearted Texan gal that we all wish we had as a best friend. On many occasions in her memoir, I felt sorry for her. The girl can sing and yet Tommy Mattola kept trying to make her into the next Britney (with dire results) with Janet Jackson abs (this, in turn, lead her down a road of self-loathing, self-doubt, and diet pills). Let’s all remember the girl was just 18-19 yrs. old.

She also goes into detail about her high profile wedding with Nick Lachey and her turbulent romance with John Mayer (spoiler alert: Mayer’s as much of a creepo jerk that I had always suspected him to be but much much worse).

But one thing that I really loved most about the book was that Jessica is unapologetically herself, meaning that no one has managed to have her question her faith even when times were bleak. And her willingness to give back to people (especially service members) is really telling of her character. I also like that she doesn’t try to paint herself as a saint and her exes as villains. She merely lets us in on events and willingly admits her faults. Nick Lachey seemed to resent the fact that Jessica couldn’t transform into a doting housewife (and how could she? She was twenty-two and never taught any household chores since she spent her childhood going to voice lessons and performing). John Mayer was obsessed with her and was a total sociopath when it came to her (breaking up with her multiple times over email!) only to beg her to take him back.

I know that Jessica has a billion-dollar empire now with her Jessica Simpson Collection line, but the real tragedy is that she wasn’t allowed to be herself artistically speaking. Her managers kept wanting her to be more like Britney Spears that she just became a terrible copy of her. Unlike Spears, Jessica CAN sing, and her talent deserved so much more.

Open Book is the sort of inspiring celebrity memoir that you didn’t know you needed.

jess3

Find out why this photo haunts Jessica

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Love or Hype? Michael Jackson’s Thriller Album

mj

Last year, I ran the segment Throwback Thursday where I rediscovered things that I appreciated in my youth and see if it passed the test of time when I reemerged myself in it. This year, I’ve decided to run a new segment, Love or Hype?, where for the first time I check out something that was immensely popular but I never took the time to check it out.

For my first Love or Hype? of the year, I’ve decided to take a listen to Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. Sure, I’ve heard a song or two from the album in passing (you’ve had to live under a rock to NEVER have heard a Michael Jackson song because he was simply that globally famous), but I’ve never listened to the album in its entirety. Up until now, Thriller is undoubtedly the most bestselling album of all time with 66-million copies sold worldwide. So obviously, it can’t possibly be a terrible album, right?

Let me preface that I’m not a fan of eunuch type male voices (which is the sort of voice that Michael Jackson had), but with the catchy tunes found within this album, there’s a reason why he was coined The King of Pop.

With hits like, Thriller, Baby Be Mine, The Girl is Mine, Billie Jean, and Beat It even the most reluctant dance can’t help but feel themselves itching to move their feet. And even after all this time, the album still proves to be fresh. I know that Michael Jackson’s legacy throughout the years has faltered (either by being too eccentric and weird to being accused of child molestation), listening to this album without thinking about those things makes you appreciate the man as a musician.

And after all these years, I can admit that I can see what the hype was all about. Even if his voice isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, 66-million people weren’t wrong in consecrating this album as the most sold album of all time.

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Without You I’m Nothing: Celebrating 21 Years of Placebo

molko

The year was 1998 and as usual for that time, I was watching music videos on TV. Not on MTV cause only if you were living in Northern Italy could you get that channel, but rather it was an indie music channel that heavily focused on rock. In between moments of boredom and trying to figure out complex math problems, I looked up and noticed him. The person in question was Brian Molko. There was something strangely enigmatic and enchanting about his nasal voice and sparkling charcoaled eyes that made it impossible for me to look away. And starting into the deep abyss of his blue gaze, I knew that nothing would ever be the same for me.

For the past 21 years, Placebo’s music has been the soundtrack to my life. There’s an inexplicable bond between myself and those songs that now they belong more to me than they ever did to the band.

I recall early winter mornings where the dreariness of January had hit is peak and I’d pop in Pure Morning to wake myself up. Those months where I continued to cut my own hair, each time shorter than the last and burying myself in a grey cashmere sweater, just hoping that something would melt the chill that nestled inside of me.

I recall heady summer days where I shared my passion with my cousin Melody. Of course, someone who had suicidal tendencies would be drawn to My Sweet Prince, a song that depicts a suicide over a lost love. We were young and fearless, blasting the stereo with Molko’s dark lyrics as we applied lipstick in Crimson Sin. We were 18 and ready to take the world by a storm with pearls and posh seduction.

molko2

I remember a time in Paris when dressed in a red flowing gown I danced to Twenty Years. When my soulmate looked into my eyes and held me like he was never going to let me go. That I wouldn’t be slipping out of his hands once dawn arrived. That we weren’t planning on saying goodbye. Pretending that everything was perfect. But perfect only existed in our optimistic dreams and was never based on our reality.

Then there was the time when, listening to Bosco on repeat, sitting in the passenger seat and looking out into the city with tears in my eyes because I wanted so desperately to hold onto someone that was clearly slipping away from me. My friend Lexy sighing from the driver’s seat, telling me to move on, that if I could just do that, then maybe I could be maybe. But, just as unrelenting and soaked in sorrow as that song was, I was unable to move on or let go. Until two years later. Because something we’d rather clutch love’s skeleton than to admit that it is dead and gone.

I’ve been listening to Placebo for so long that I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t listening to their music. And today, since it is Brian Molko’s birthday (he turns 47) it seemed the most fitting for me to dedicate my blog post to him.

Happy Birthday, Brian and thank you for the music and the memories. I’ll forever be shouting into the void, Soulmates never die.

molko3

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Lionel Richie: Hello Tour Review

When I was proposed to go see Lionel Richie, I knew that I had to seize this opportunity to see a living legend perform live. For the younger generation he may be known for being the father of Nicole & Sofia Richie and recently as judge of American Idol, but for the older generation, the four-time Grammy Ward Winner was the soundtrack of their dancing youth and makeout sessions.

I don’t watch American Idol, so I only know Richie for his music, but the performance at the Santa Barbara Bowl proved that he not only can sing but is a mighty funny showman too (he could’ve had a whole other career in stand-up comedy, the man is hilarious!). At 70, Richie still commands the stage and can work the crow like very few performers can.

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With iconic hits like Penny Lover, Say You, Say Me, and Easy, the crowd couldn’t help but relive happy memories linked to those songs. By the time he belted out Dancing on the Ceiling and Stuck On, the audience was heated up to dance like it was 1977. And if you ever wondered if women in their sixties and seventies can still bust out some crazy moves, then let me assure you that they can and then some!

By the time the evening came to a close, I knew that the king of glittery jackets would be back for an encore, when the only song he hadn’t sung from his Greatest Hits was All Night Long. And sure enough, the charming crooner returned to give the crow just what they had been waiting for. And for one night, we all felt that we could’ve danced all night if given the chance.

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Throwback Thursday: Andreas Johnson – Glorious

andreas

1998-1999 was a golden age for music. Or at least I thought it was, seeing that many of my favourite bands came out with albums those two years that I not only loved but defined me, such as Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals, Garbage’s 2.0, Hole’s Celebrity Skin, and Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Californication, just to name a few.

During that time I had also become a big fan Swedish singers, and Andreas Johnson came out with a song and music video that was absolutely thrilling, called Glorious.

The song was catchy from the very beginning and like most Swedes, Andreas Johnson was quite the eye candy (especially for all of us teenage girls). Now, the music video wasn’t crazily original (as it just showed him performing the song on some stage upon another stage and then in a bedroom in the company of a model-looking girl). Despite it not being a video that screamed with originality, there was something very sexual and sexy about the beautiful couple making out on a bed at that looked like to be dawn (maybe they had spent the whole night partying or they met at a club?) only to fall upon the bed in a shower of silver glitter. Back then, I was in full mode glam-mania (Manson had ditched his goth guise for feather boas and platforms as Omega in Mechanical Albums and the movie Velvet Goldmine was set in 1970’s London, heyday of glam rock had just been released). This was the time I used to wear glitter liner and star rhinestones at the corner of my right eye. I’m telling you, we were much cooler than the emo crowd.

andreas2

I can’t recall when it was the last time I had listened to this song but surely it was around 1999-2000 timeframe, because if you were living in Italy at the time (as I was), there was no way you didn’t her this song on the radio at least four times a day. The music video was in heavy rotation on MTV Italy too. So, watching the video and listening to the song almost twenty years later I discovered that the song is still hella catchy today, and you can’t help but be intrigued by the opening lyrics when Johnson croons, “Here she comes with a masterplan, and I’m starting to lose control.” Mind you, we never get to know what this masterplan is unless it’s referring to her seducing him (maybe?). And even two decades later, falling upon a bed of silver glitter still seems thrilling (forget rose petals! Rolling around in glitter that evoke stars is my fantasy!).

The song doesn’t sound dated to me (maybe cause it’s a love song), although I suppose the music video could be seen a bit dated. But honestly, it’s still way more exciting than videos most artists are releasing nowadays (the death of MTV as a music channel brought death to the music videos).

Glorious was an all-out fun, sexy song that sticks with you far longer than you think it should. Maybe because we’ve all fantasized about meeting a sexy stranger at a club to end with a dawn filled with passionate glitter sex. No? Just me?

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