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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Review: Depeche Mode – A Sexy Night In Santa Barbara

If there’s one word that can define the atmosphere of a Depeche Mode concert it’s “lush.” There was a certain tinge of sensuality hovering the night as concert goers made their way up to the Santa Barbara Bowl as Warpaint songs and Theresa Wayman’s enticing vocals beckoned us to the venue.

warpaint

There seemed to be an unspoken dress code amongst the audience: clad in black attire, even better if it’s leather.

The full moon bathed the audience in its brilliance as the band emerged from the darkness opening with the song Going Backwards and the whole venue went W-I-L-D.

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Many of the songs were accompanied by amazing videos in the background, one of my favourites was that of two ballet dancers doing an intricate sensual choreography whilst Dave Gahan crooned In Your Room. Another visually stunning moment was when they displayed a video of a gender-bending musician getting dolled up before hitting the night to perform in gravity-defying stilettos as Gahan appropriately sang Walking In My Shoes throughout the video.

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Another highlight of the night was Martin Gore’s acoustic performances of A Question of Lust and Somebody where the dancing slowed to a sway and even the ones with the blackest heart found tears lingering in their eyes threatening to make their mascaras run.

Being a huge David Bowie fan, it certainly made my night when the first notes of Heroes began, and nothing drove me wilder than them closing with Personal Jesus. Cause right about now we’re all in need of reaching out and touching faith.

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SETLIST:

Going Backwards

So Much Love

Barrel of a Gun

A Pain That I’m Used To

Corrupt

In Your Room

World In My Eyes

Cover Me

A Question of Lust

Home

Poison Heart

Where’s the Revolution

Wrong

Everything Counts

Stripped

Enjoy the Silence

Never Let Me Down Again

ENCORE:

Somebody

Walking in My Shoes

Heroes

I Feel You

Personal Jesus

By: Azzurra Nox

Review: The National – Sleep Well Beast

the national

Sleep Well Beast is The National’s seventh studio album, and much like their previous albums they’re here to deliver us sadness by way of dreamy, layered music and moody lyrics. Many people either find this band brilliant, or utterly boring. And the easiest way for you to find out where you fall on the spectrum is to ask yourself this, “Do you like The Smiths?” Because if you do, then you’ll love the melancholy found in The National’s songs, but if you don’t, then you may feel like the suicidal-charged baritone of leadsinger Matt Berninger to be too much to deal with.

Usually all of The National’s albums are compared to Alligator because it was considered brilliant, and so subsequent albums have always had to try to outdo that one.

Like most successful bands, The National have found their winning formula, and it’s the following: Berninger’s tragic baritone voice half-singing half-murmuring anxiety-ridden lyrics over soft guitar chords, piano, rhythmic drumming, with a dash of strings and horns thrown in the mixture.

Now, Sleep Well Beast sorta sticks to this same formula as the previous albums on pretty much the majority of the tracks. Although some tracks have been amped up a little and feature a faster tempo with some subtle shouting ala Mr. November or Available, especially on the track Turtleneck where Berninger candidly let’s up know that he keeps the weed next to his bed.

Some of the strongest tracks from the album are Carin At The Liquor Store, The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness, Walk It Back, and Day I Die. To say this is record is dark and bleak is an understatement. It’s almost like watching the dissolving of a relationship, but trying not to be outwardly destructive about it, although you’re feeling like vomiting your heart as a way to get rid of your weakest organ.

This album is best for those who don’t mind drowning in sorrow and befalling some serious dose of emotion sickness. If you’re looking for something to cheer you up, look elsewhere. You’ll only find sadness in its purest, most beautiful, and bleakest form here.

Life is sad, and The National are here to remind us of that. But there’s a strange beauty in the sadness. We almost don’t mind feeling so depressed.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

By: Azzurra Nox