Monday, December 07, 2020

New Music: Berlin, Blue Öyster Cult, Embrace, Van Duren, Todd Rundgren

Groundbreaking artists are featured on a collection of fantastic new gift-worthy releases available now.

Title: Strings Attached (August Day Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Berlin, No Doubt
Tell me more: Orange County, California-spawned synth pop favorites Berlin have returned with Strings Attached, a project that finds the trio's beloved 1980s line-up featuring singer Terri Nunn, singer/multi-instrumentalist John Crawford and multi-instrumentalist David Diamond performing classic and new tracks with the backing of a full orchestra. The versions of enticing New wave classics such as "The Metro," "No More Words," "Masquerade" and "Sex (I'm A...)" as well as the enduring #1 hit ballad "Take My Breath Away" don't supplant the original recordings but do add a contemporary touch that will please long-time fans while likely introducing Berlin's groundbreaking sound to a new generation (writer's tip: it is a blast to listen to this disc with headphones). Other great songs on the set include the defiant symphony-meets-synth dance track "Now It's My Turn," gorgeous "On My Knees" and lush "You Don't Know." A limited edition 4-disc box set of the collection (complete with a signed postcard from the band) is available exclusively for a limited time via the group's official website. Information:

Blue Öyster Cult
Title: Live At Rock Of Ages Festival 2016 (Frontiers Music s.r.l.)
You might like if you enjoy: Blue Öyster Cult, Rush 
Tell me more: Like Rush, The Rolling Stones and Neil Young, classic rock greats Blue Öyster Cult has continued to dip into their recordings vault to issue an ever-growing number of exceptional archival treasures. Look no further than Live At Rock Of Ages Festival 2016, a terrific performance captured on the second day of the Rock of Ages Festival in Seebronn, Germany in July 2016. The Stony Brook, New York-spawned troupe's set is fiery and polished, and includes their most beloved cuts representing their singular hybrid of prog, classic and hard rock styles. The ambitious styles-blending "Golden Age of Leather," driving harmonies-adorned "Burnin' For You," blues rocker "OD'd On Life Itself," electrifying "Harvest Moon," primal sing-along "Godzilla" and marathon take on "Don't Fear (The Reaper)" all are performed with power and artful perfection on the title. The multi-format title Live At Rock Of Ages Festival 2016, issued on Dec. 4 for the first-time ever, is available on CD+DVD, stand-alone Blu-ray or via 2LP vinyl. Information:

Titles: Out Of Nothing; This New Day (Craft Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Travis, Keane
Tell me more: Two of the best rock albums of the first decade of the 21st century, Embrace's 2004 album Out Of Nothing and 2006 follow-up This New Day have each received their first-ever vinyl reissue. Yours truly has the limited 180gm vinyl LP pressing of "Out Of Nothing" and it's truly glorious; the anthemic "Ashes," graceful "Gravity," wistful "Someday" and beautiful "Looking As You Are" sound spectacular. The long-sought-after reissues of the English rock quintet's #1 U.K. albums were cut at London's Metropolis Studios and include printed inner sleeves. Each vinyl reissue also includes a download card of the album. Information:

Van Duren
Titles: Are You Serious?; Idiot Optimism (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Paul McCartney, Todd Rundgren, Big Star, the Raspberries 
Tell me more: Memphis underground hero Van Duren is celebrated on two terrific full-length releases; new reissues of his 1978 debut Are You Serious? and the originally-ignored sophomore follow-up Idiot Optimism make a remarkable case for a renewed look at a singer-songwriter whose talents as top-tier singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist draw comparisons with Alex Chilton of Big Star, Todd Rundgren and Paul McCartney. Coming from the rich scene that yielded Big Star and Chris Bell, Duren's recordings reveal themselves with timeless song craft and an otherworldly connection with melody. The yearning "Chemical Fire" and "Waiting," soulful "Grow Yourself Up" and "New Year's Eve," dreamy "So Good To Me (For the Time Being)," potent "Yellow Light" and McCartney-flavored "The Love That I Love" are among the undeniable songs on Are You Serious? 

Idiot Optimism  recorded in 1979 and 1980  was not released until it was issued in Japan without any input from Duren in 1999. The 2020 remastered reissue sets the record straight with 14 tracks (one a medley of two songs), new album artwork, and many previously-unseen photos featured along with detailed new liner notes.The songs here are as strong as on Duren's debut; the rocking "Bear With Me All The Way," heartfelt "Tennessee, I'm Trying," passionate "That," fervent "Life In Layers," joyful "Torn In Half," tuneful "Andy, Please" and a rousing cover of Chris Bell's "Make a Scene" further certify Van Duren's brilliance and instincts as an artist.

The two titles are available on audio CD, LP, limited-edition colored vinyl and digital. The artist's self-penned liner notes bolster the power of these important reissues. Information:

Todd Rundgren
Title: Flappie (Cleopatra Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Utopia, Todd Rundgren, Danny Elfman
Tell me more: The new Todd Rundgren single "Flappie" is a true surprise sonic stuffer. The holiday song  the original recording is a perennial favorite in The Netherlands penned by Dutch comedian Youp van 't Hek  was released by Rundgren on Dec. 2, 2020. It chronicles a unsettling Christmas holiday in 1961 and Rundgren's approach is in the spirit of the decidedly dark tune. Information:

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