Joy Division : The Middle Man

 

From Warsaw, to Joy Division, to New Order, Joy Division acted as a “voice of the underdog” for many people in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Their ability to redefine themselves over and over is a tribute to their originality in song, lyrics, rhythm, and beat. They stumbled onto a sound that fit in perfectly with their era, but somehow stood out as one of the most influential bands of all time. They originally started as ‘Warsaw’, an English rock band in Manchester who formed after being ridiculously inspired at a Sex Pistols concert. In 1976, the band consisted of singer Ian Curtis, guitarist and keyboardist Bernard Sumner, bass player Peter Hook, and drummer Stephen Morris. Warsaw was a band name created by Sumner and Hook, referencing David Bowie’s song “Warszawa”, but they later changed their title to Joy Division to avoid being confused with a similarly titled band in the area. Their influences included legends like a Berlin-era Bowie, The Talking Heads, The Clash, The Velvet Underunknownpleasuresground and Iggy Pop.

Joy Division made music that people didn’t know they needed, not by emphasizing anger as most punk bands did, but by emphasizing mood and expression.Joy Division was the first band to bring the melancholy feel into the post-punk period. Inspired by punk energy, their music is full of loopy drum patterns, soothing guitar riffs, and odd bass rhythms, topped off by Ian Curtis and his liquid gold voice, acting as a combination of Jim Morrison, Joe Strummer and Lou Reed. Their undistinguished punk-infected rock was a quality that only could be appreciated as the songs got slower and continued on, making their live shows, where they played loudly and aggressively, some of the most attended events of the 1970s. Each show had it’s own heart and soul and no two shows were ever the same.

After Joy Division recorded their most famous album, Unknown Pleasures, their career soared. Their first-of-its-kind melancholy lyrics and punk musical vibe took the world by storm. In May of 1980, while on tour for their second studio recorded album, “Closer”, Ian Curtis, lead guitarist, committed suicide. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was performed in honor of Curtis, at the last Joy Division show.

After Curtis’ death, the remaining band members unanimously agreed that Joy Division should be figuratively put to rest in honor of Curtis himself. They continued with a different name, and brought new wave into the 80’s. New Order, which had a few new additions, became one of the most influential bands of the 80s for their combination of punk and electronic dance music. Their first single, “Ceremony” was performed in several Joy Division concerts, but officially was20150707060046new_order_movement_cover released through the new band. New Order continued into the 80s and 90s, gaining new fans as they released dance music that had depressing lyrics. They brought a new sound into a new era, and their aesthetic was to do whatever the hell they wanted. They didn’t give many interviews, encores, and released numerous nameless albums. New Order holds the best-selling 12-inch single of all time, for their song “Blue Monday”.

As a group of people who didn’t struggle to remain relevant, Joy Division lives on through New Order. Although each member of the band took turns experimenting with vocals, instruments, and new types of patterns in their music. Sumner eventually took over as lead vocal, but he refused to do interviews out of respect for Curtis. The band lyrics heavily are influenced by the death of their friend, and still insanely popular, “Low-life”, an album released in 1985, was just remastered and re-released in 2015.

 

Retrospective: Gang of Four

I remember the first time I heard the album Entertainment! by Gang of Four. The first thing that really hit me was the jaw dropping production. In a sea of reverb and echo ridden albums in Post-Punk, Entertainment was dry as a bone. Aggressive and fearless, Entertainment! rips through your comfort zone with trebly compressed guitar attacks, rolling bass lines, and sharp political diction. Within a month of hearing it, I owned the record and it quickly became one of my favorite documents of the Post Punk era.
On October 28, 2016, we have an incredible opportunity. Gang of Four will be gracing Salt Lake City at In The Venue (219 South 600 West, SLC). The current lineup includes the original guitarist/songwriter Andy Gill along with three new members. The band is currently touring with The Faint, who will also be at the SLC show. A good friend of mine just saw them on this tour last week in Chicago. He described Andy as “mesmerizing”. He said he could tell those in the audience who were there for The Faint were equally transfixed on the sound and essence of Gang of Four. Gang of Four influenced (and continues to influence) generations of bands.

Kurt Cobain sited Entertainment! in his top 50 favorite albums of all time, Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers sites their bass lines as some of his favorite of all time, and even local SLC heroes Foster Body were heavily influenced by the band’s work. This may be one of the last chances to see Andy Gill and Gang of Four. If you’re a fan of rock n roll at all, I strongly urge you to come see one of the world’s greatest forgotten bands.

You can purchase tix here: https://www.24tix.com/event/99290180/the-faint

 

-Josh Price

White Lies – Friends

When it comes to music, I tend to gravitate towards the darker, somewhat more ominous sounding songs. White Lies has always been a band I turn to that fits that exact description. Usually compared to bands like Interpol or Editors, I fell in love with Harry McVeigh’s somber, baritone vocals and the band’s bleak yet energetic music. When they debuted their album To Lose My Life…, many of their tracks were put on repeat in my IPod. While Ritual and BIG TV, the band’s second and third albums, were not as heavy on my music radar, they still hold a special place in my heart. After three years since their last release, their fourth album Friends takes White Lies in a path that caught me a bit off guard.

From the start of “Take It Out on Me,” the album’s first track and single, it is evident that this album has a heavy 80s vibe with the cheery synth it opens up with. The steady beat of the drum makes anyone want to get up and dance as McVeigh sings “Oh take it out on me/I’m in love with the feeling.” The track is a great way to display the change in direction White Lies is going for. My only qualm with it is how abruptly it ends, without even completely fading out.

“Is My Love Enough?” reminds me of White Lies’ earlier songs like “Farewell to the Fairground” or “Big TV.” McVeigh has a sense of hopelessness in his voice as he sings “So tell me is this love enough/Tell me what it’s really worth/I don’t know what to feel anymore.” The airy atmosphere towards the end almost reflects what McVeigh is feeling: he’s given up and his love is slowly fading away.

Friends is by far the happiest album that White Lies has created. The album cover alone is enough to see this change. It doesn’t feature the cooler colored palette their previous three albums display in the artwork. Lyrically, it still has that gloomy feel as the album focuses on the theme of drifting away from friends or loved ones. The band has definitely expanded into more electronic grounds as opposed to their signature post punk genre to create almost a retro sounding album. While this is an album I can see myself listening to again, it made me feel very disconnected to the band I had come to know in the past few years. I missed the eeriness I had come to expect from them. McVeigh’s voice sounded slightly out of place compared to their upbeat songs. It was not the album I was hoping to hear from White Lies, but one I can appreciate.