Tag Archives: subnormal magazine

Depeche Mode Make Musical History

Music Legends Depeche Mode conquer Hollywood, in four unforgettable nights that will go down in musical history. Ranked as one of subnormal magazine’s Top 10 Greatest Bands of All Time, Depeche Mode are phenomenal. So when they announced they were taking another one of subnormal’s top favorite artists – Warpaint – on the road with them as opener for their latest world-wide tour, they doubly proved what that magazine and we already knew – the forever coolness of Depeche Mode.

Exquisite, stunning, elegant brilliance; Depeche Mode are not merely a band – they are a spiritual experience; a timeless group of mind-blowing, soul-stirring, sophisticated gentleman that are three of among the greatest living recording artists on the planet.

Depeche Mode New York 21-07-2016.
Photo used with permission, kind courtesy of Columbia Records.

Like a lover who broke one’s heart that they will forever love; a sadly sweet memory; so too is the tragic beauty of Depeche Mode. Hauntingly romantic, with some of the greatest melodies, beats, and songs ever created by anyone on the planet ever – Depeche Mode are an embodiment of humanity’s greatness – of a touch of the divine in man.

Shamen for the Ages

During the early days of Kings and Queens, the singer and the musician were treated as royalty, and worked in the personal employ of the Royal Court – to lift up their spirit, to fill with life – to entertain.

In today’s instant action, split second, digital age world; music is a second thought for most, and singers and bands – when famous – like pop culture itself – are often consumed, ridiculed, and spat out until the next trendy buzz comes along. And yet, there is no higher form of life or celebration of the spirit than of art – and music; the eternal orchestra – the infinite dance.

Depeche Mode is such heavenly, magnificent, perfect bliss – the sound in us all that we simply long to find – to feel – to experience. They are among the few rare, great souls on the planet during any age, who exemplify the meaning of life – to live passionately, with beauty, with joy, with love – and to celebrate every movement and moment of life itself.


The Legends

Reportedly formed in the London county of Essex, England, Depeche Mode is Andy Fletcher on keys, Martin Gore on guitar, keys, and backing vocals, and David Gahn on vocals. From their massively great songs including “New Life,” “Walking in My Shoes,” “Everything Counts,” “Wrong,” “Barrel of a Gun,” “World in My Eyes,” the massive radio hit “Personal Jesus,” timeless new wave classics including “People are People,” “Policy of Truth,” “It’s a Question of Time,” “Master and Servants,” and the dark, tragic, beautiful “Blasphemous Rumors,” “A Question of Lust,” “I Feel You,” “Shake the Disease,” and countless more, Depeche Mode are beyond words – they are greatness personified.

While most bands lose their edge, creativity, and looks over time, Depeche Mode simply get better with age. Their newest album “Spirit” is outstanding, from “Going Backwards,” to “Where’s the Revolution,” and more, there simply is no other band quite like Depeche Mode – and never will be. Brilliant in every regard from musical composition, songwriting, vocal work, soulfulness, and beyond – the band sounds as fresh, brilliant, modern, and great as ever – and yes, they still look great too.

Many Depeche Mode tracks are just beyond anything – beyond greatness; the searing, haunting “Black Celebration,” “Never Let Me Down Again,” “It’s No Good,” “Enjoy the Silence,” and “Behind the Wheel,” among others, are just heavenly, sonic perfection.

The Global Spirit Tour

Storming the world for their new “Spirit” Tour, The band which has sold over 100 million records world-wide, hit America again this year – selling out stadium after stadium, including this week; a first ever feat of selling out 4 consecutive artist nights at the legendary Hollywood Bowl. The tour will reportedly hit a total of 106 venues, with 70 in Europe, 5 in South America, and 31 in North America, carrying in to 2018, to nearly 2 million or more fans.

Depeche Mode in New York.
Photo used with permission, kind courtesy of Columbia Records.

Hollywood, California

It was here on their L.A. stop’s final night that I had the great pleasure and honor to get guest listed just two nights before their final show. Arriving at the Hollywood Bowl, thousands upon thousands of Depeche Mode Fans filled the streets for miles in every direction.

Traffic – an organized madness – snaked around the maze-like streets entering the Hollywood Bowl. I somehow followed a bus down an empty lane, then followed a cop car, at which a traffic officer shouted I was not supposed to be driving where I was, which had not been clear. A happy accident in my favor; my partner quickly took the driver’s seat, and I ran into the Hollywood Bowl.

Hipsters of all ages; young and old, flooded the Hollywood Bowl grounds like a deep-sea of the world’s biggest new-wave dance party. In a city rarely impressed and rarely looking at each other on the streets, the crowd here looked at one another – approvingly accepting each others’ camaraderie in cool.

The Hollywood Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl itself is a beautiful, massively sized outdoor venue, reportedly holding 17,500 people. At 4 generally sold out nights in one week, this was nearly 70,000 fans that Depeche Mode entertained in Los Angeles in just four days – the population of some cities.

Clean, upscale, and expertly run, The Hollywood Bowl is a world-class venue for world-class acts. I asked two kind guards here where to go, who politely directed me to the VIP ticket area which I jogged over to. The staff at this area was completely professional, polite, organized, and fast. I breezed right in, where a nice staff girl walked me directly to my seat and told me that she hoped I would enjoy the show. With stage-side, standing room area spots – which are great, The Hollywood Bowl is uniquely superior to other stadium venues for this fact alone.

Most massive venues of this size have many far and distant box seats only. The Hollywood Bowl has both – stadium like seating – yet more upscale and cozy, with boxed in seating areas of four lawn chair type seats, and stage-side standing areas to rock and dance in. It also has three huge outdoor video screens, easily showing the band on screen to the fans, for those with seating too far away to view up close.

The sound quality for this show was truly outstanding, with dynamic sound ranges and perfect sound production, as well as great stage lighting. Overhead; two cool white beams of light cut through the blackness, bursting through the sky above the Hollywood Bowl, as if to mark a Stonehenge type metaphysical temple where the mothership has landed; marking its territory miles out into the sky and through the city of angels for this unforgettable night of the spirit.

Concession Stands

The Hollywood Bowl has its own gift shop, and various concession windows. Concessions ranged from sushi, chips, water, wine, beer, and hot dogs among more, with water at 4 dollars, chips at 3, wine at 9, and large beers at 12, and sushi around 17. Considering ticket prices started at around 60 or more up to around 250 and even over 500 dollars, the concession prices did not seem unreasonable.

In my seating area, concession lines were slow and long, and they cut serving food, drinks, and even water over an hour before the show even ended – which made no sense. Fortunately, the Hollywood bowl has drinking fountains, which is a civilized, friendly touch not found in many such massive venues where profit is normally put before hospitality. Bathrooms were clean, and plentiful with no wait. Merch booths for Warpaint and Depeche Mode seemed to sell well, but were shorter than the food and beverage lines in my area.

I smelled pot smoke, surprisingly only a few short seconds during the entire show. Cigarette smoke – which normally bothers me as a former smoker, lingered off and on only a short while, and then when it did, was not a problem in the fresh, vast mountain-side air near the Hollywood Hills.

Ticket people checked my ticket every time I left the seating area and re-entered; a very minor nuisance, but worth protecting the band from being ripped off by those trying to sneak in. Metal detector walk-through gates – and a quick check in and return of my wallet, shades, and keys was a reasonable, fast procedure for all, to keep fans safe.

The few cops I saw, were mostly just chilling on their motorcycles – probably enjoying the music. L.A. cops, for those that don’t live here and don’t know, are – unlike some police in some cities – overall laid back and cool to people that don’t start trouble.

Outside – before and mostly after the show, scalpers desperately peddled knock off t-shirts of Depeche Mode for as low as five dollars, where inside the venue, official shirts were 40 dollars – which is not a bad price. Fortunately, I saw no one buying the fakes. Scalpers take away hard-earned money from the artists, and their merchandise is usually terrible quality, that most real fans can tell is fake.

Parking at the Hollywood Bowl is advertised as being limited. Many cars have to do stack parking; meaning they get literally blocked in by rows of other parked cars, and have to wait until the cars in front leave – which seems to me, as someone who hates waiting for anything – like a total nightmare.

Despite getting dropped off, I didn’t plan transport home well enough, as the cabs I called were not available, and I didn’t have time to clear off data from my phone to download Uber.

While I’m sure I could have easily hitched a ride, my days of that are over, so thankfully I got reminded after I started walking, that The Hollywood Bowl is just a few minutes nice walk to Hollywood Boulevard, where two subway stops are located nearby; Hollywood and Vine, and the closest – Hollywood and Highland, right near where the Academy Awards are held.

I took a nice jog to Hollywood Boulevard; past the food street vendors, past the failing scalpers, and past the exited Depeche Mode and Warpaint fans, and beyond a lone suicidal type guy leaving a hotel on a moped that screamed as he ran a red light speeding in to traffic, and hit the train – which of course reminded me of the line from that great new song by Depeche Mode, “Where’s the Revolution?” (The Train is Coming!) that has really great lyrics about how society gets brainwashed and stupefied by the mass political propaganda machine, and how we need to rise up and do more.


Warpaint took the stage promptly at 7:30pm, delivering nearly an hour of amazing, passionate, beautiful songs, like masters of the stage, and completely in their element for a show this size.

The sound for Warpaint was mind-blowingly great, perfectly miked deep and sharp, cutting in every stellar note and minor and major chord to perfection. Tearing out stunning tracks starting with their newer “Heads Up,” they then lead into the brilliant “Elephants,” “So Good,” “Bees,” “Intro,” “Keep It Healthy,” and the beautiful “Love is to Die,” with their newer cut “New Song” next which dominated the night, making a perfect night that was just the beginning. The brilliant punk-like song “Disco” (from the Disco / Very back to back single) closed out the set by this phenomenal, brilliant, beautiful band of rock goddesses.

When New Wave Was Underground

Before 80’s Music was called 80’s music, when it actually ‘was’ the eighties, most so-called 80’s bands that we know of and love today, were, back in the day – called New Wave – and most of them couldn’t even get played on the radio, back when radio actually mattered – before the internet, and before You Tube.

During their earliest years, bands including the Cure, Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, and others were called “New Wave,” and later “alternative” rock. And – those of us that listened to such music – as well as punk rock, were called “freaks.” Duran Duran became more teeny bopper and mainstream – yet stayed great. Depeche Mode was a part of that early new wave scene, and always remained more underground in their sound and fan base in the beginning, yet went on to influence some of the greatest bands of all time after their rise, across multiple genres.

Seeing these legends, for the fourth and final show at the Hollywood Bowl, was itself – mind-blowing. Seeing them with nearly 20,000 other fans – was itself a shock, considering I used to listen, transfixed to Depeche Mode most of my life – starting at around 15 years of age.

The Show

Gone were the videos of scantily clad female fashion models – save for the sexy video of a female ballet dancer. Darker images dominated the video backdrops of the stage with images of the band, along with rockets, space scenes, and at times even animals among more – artistically shot, and ranging from color to black and white.

Martin Gore

Martin Gore crooned; beautifully singing back up, and with his solo ballads perfectly on key, and his stunning wide range expertly on point. The audience howled with delight at his soaring ballads and romantic voice.

Long standing band member Andy Fletcher was flawless on keys. Supporting guest members Peter Gordeno rounded out more keys, vocals, and bass, and Christian Eigner jammed on drums.

David Gahan

David Gahan reigned; prowling, strutting, and spinning round and round in circles at times – and fluidly waving his arms like a dancerly, gothic angel. His voice – stunningly perfect, ageless, spine tingling, and mesmerizing. The sound of his every vocal intonation filled up each and every cell and fiber of every body under the crisp, cool, perfect fall Hollywood night.

With occasional howls, growls, and “yeah!” shout outs, at times the band broke into seemingly spontaneous back-beat instrumentation for seventeen thousand person strong sing-alongs. They deftly captivated the masses with an impressive, group-like, religious-style experience of Depeche Mode audience voices under the stars. “Yeah! Yeah! Come on! Sing!” Gahn encouraged the audience, “This is Hollywood after all!” – adding to the excitement of this legendary night in the most famous of all cities.

Devastatingly handsome, David Gahn evolved during his career from a boyish, British heart-throb – later in black eyeliner, to a tattooed stud with long jet black hair, to today – a Harley riding Latin-lover-like Rock Star, perfectly in charge of his voice, his body, and the stage. Seducing the already seduced audience; the camera zoomed in on David on a couple of occasions; grabbing his crotch, grinding against the mic stand, and shaking his hips like the sex symbol he also is – which he owns so well.

The Set

Opening their set by playing the introduction to The Beatles “Revolution,” Depeche Mode are the consummate professionals. With technical perfection at every turn; every note and every beat blended into a symphony of danceable bliss. If the band made one error – it was undetectable. If there was one dull moment, it was between a fast blink of the eyes.

“Cover Me” instrumental followed, into a brilliant version of “Going Backwards,” “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,” and then a short break for an encore.

The band returned to play “Somebody,” and even a Bowie cover of “Heroes,” where David Gahn sang – “You can all be heroes!” to the Hollywood crowd. They continued with “I Feel You,” “Walking In My Shoes” featuring a video of a pretty guy in drag getting dressed up in makeup and heels, and closing the night out with a rocking version of “Personal Jesus.”Ultimately, this show proved to be without question, one of the great moments in the history of music, by one of the greatest bands of all time.


A very special thanks to Depeche Mode, and Columbia Records.

Story by Bruce Edwin for Hollywood Sentinel and News Blaze dot com. Textual content, (c). 2017, Bruce Edwin, Hollywood Sentinel, all rights reserved.  The office of Bruce Edwin and Hollywood Sentinel do not endorse any advertising that may be found on or within any music videos herein.

Chris Cornell: Soundgarden–Remembered

The first time I heard Soundgarden, I was around 17. I later heard them more properly in my early 20’s at the legendary party house of “302,” in Normal, Illinois–land of ISU. To understand 302, all you need to know is this–you had to know someone to get in, or you had to look really cool. That meant–freaks, punk rockers, goth, death rockers, skinheads, new wavers, boarders, and the like were in–all others were out.  In the basement of 302, we would at times see bands including The Flaming Lips play just inches from us. It was here in the basement too, where each room was a different ‘theme,’ and where massive Marshall stack speakers blasted at top pro  sound quality and deafening volume, the latest of all the best music including everything from Jane’s Addiction, Metallica, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Cure, The Smiths, and the Sex Pistols, to the more obscure My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Nitzer Ebb, Ministry, Killing Joke, Sisters of Mercy,  Reagan Youth, and more. Soundgarden was on regular rotation, and we all loved the band and recognized them as the greats that they were–including of course–Chris Cornell.  The frat houses played Zeppelin, we played Jane’s Addiction and Soundgarden.  Not that we didn’t appreciate and love Zeppelin, but we hit 304 (the 60’s and 70’s party next door) on another night. This was our generation–Soundgarden, Nirvana, Hole, Fugazi, and more.

To those that needed trendy labels, Soundgarden was a part of the so called Seattle grunge scene, along with Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, and Nirvana, among more. To the rest of us, they were just a great, no frills rock band that jammed like few others.

The loss of Chris Cornell–reportedly by suicide, is not only shocking and sad, it makes little sense. Perhaps his family and those others who knew and loved him can understand it, but the rest of the world do not. Some will argue his music and lyrics were dark–which they were. Yet he had a new tour underway, and a family he loved back home. Whether the rumor is true or not–suicide is never a solution. Soundgarden and Audioslave were legendary. Chris Cornell was a masterful talent with a soaring voice like none other.  Seattle is mourning with dimming of the Space Needle. The rest of the music world from all genres who knew and appreciated him are mourning too.  A greatly underappreciated artist in many respects, he will be forever remembered, and greatly missed.

–Bruce Edwin

Textual content copyright Bruce Edwin 2017, all rights reserved.

Phantogram On Fire

Anyone that states that music is not as good as it used to be needs to catch up with the times. Thanks to artists including Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grimes, Warpaint, Autolux, Lana Del Rey, Empire of the Sun, and many more, music today is as great as ever.
One of the most brilliant bands to emerge in the past decade–Phantogram is a part of music’s greatness today, and the band soars. subnormal magazine names them one of the Top 10 New Artists of our Time. From pounding bass beats, melodic, swirling kaleidoscopic freak outs of searing guitar, trippy, hypnotic keyboards, brilliant songwriting and lyrics, and a sultry, perfect voice by the drop dead sexy Sarah Barthel, combined with a vast myriad of great, artistic videos, Phantogram is in a class by themselves, and like none you have ever heard. Stellar geniuses,and masters of their killer sound, they are a legendary new band that just make us want to dance.  –Bruce Edwin, subnormal magazine

Phantogram: Biography

Three, Phantogram’s third studio album, the duo of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel take their sound in an intriguing, darkly shaded direction, adding new textures to their signature style.

Three represents a new creative peak that Phantogram has been building towards for nearly a decade. Carter and Barthel first broke out in 2009 with the cinematic Eyelid Movies (Barsuk) – recorded in a barn in Saratoga Springs, NY (near their hometown of Greenwich) – and after a buzz-building EP (Nightlife, Barsuk) and much touring, Phantogram opted for a change of scenery by recording their expansive second LP, 2014’s Voices (Republic),in Los Angeles with co-producer John Hill (M.I.A., Santigold).

In between Voices (which spawned the hits “Fall In Love” and “Black Out Days”) and Three, Phantogram have certainly kept busy. They contributed to The Flaming Lips’ The Terror, A-Trak’s “Parallel Lines,”and Miley Cyrus’ Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz, remixed Charli XCX, and were sampled by Kanye West and A$AP Rocky, as well as a collaboration project called Big Grams with OutKast’s Big Boi. Following the release of a critically-acclaimed self-titled debut album in late 2015, Big Grams has proved to be a festival mainstay in 2016 – entertaining huge audiences with compelling sets riddled with Big Grams’ psychedelic hip-hop, and rounded out with the two acts’ mashups of each other’s hit songs.

Despite the full schedule, Carter and Barthel find themselves far from creatively tapped-out. Recent collaborations pushed them musically and Three displays a surging energy and appealing experimentation, effectively showcasing a band reaching for and achieving new aesthetic heights.

The album was recorded over the past year at co-producer Ricky Reed’s Echo Park-based studio. Finding inspiration in unlikely places for a band increasingly heard on commercial alternative and pop radio, Carter found fresh perspective in AfroBeat and ‘60’s R&B when creating the steady beats that form the foundation of the album. Despite the new influences and a strong experimental motivation, Three still unmistakably sounds like Phantogram, with plenty of thick, buzzing beats and snaking melodic lines to sink your teeth into.

Three is a triumphant record, but it also bears the mark of personal tragedy. During the recording process, the band suffered a devastating loss when Barthel’s sister (and Carter’s close friend since childhood) Becky passed away of suicide. Work on music stopped immediately, but then as the duo slowly returned to the studio the aftermath of their personal loss (compounded by the deaths of David Bowie and Prince, two of Phantogram’s greatest musical heroes and inspirations) began to reverberate throughout the process, imbuing the album with varied shades of complicated, human emotion that Carter refers to as “Finding the beauty within tragedy.”

“It’s about heartbreak, and having to push forward and move on—and how challenging that is,” Barthel states. “It’s made us the people we really are, and it’s a huge part of what this record means to us.”

Along with exploring new emotional territory, Three also finds Phantogram breaking new sonic ground. The album’s eclectic, bold songs swerve from pop-inflected bangers (like lead single “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” and album-closer “Calling All”) to the skipping melancholia of “Answer,” which strikes a perfect balance between loping hip-hop rhythms, understated balladry, and gauzy indie-rock. Meanwhile, more experimental, psych-influenced pieces like “Run Run Blood,” the harrowing Steve Reich-sample-driven “Barking Dog,” and “Funeral Pyre” (a re-working of longtime live staple “Intro” that, fittingly, opens the album) somehow are perfectly at ease alongside the darkly beautiful, cathartic ballad “Destroyer,” all capturing themes of heartbreak, anguish and perseverance; second single “Same Old Blues,” the smoky, menacing duet “You’re Mine,” and the icy determination of “Cruel World” bring listeners back to the sample-heavy, synth-driven Phantogram sound that has found them an extensive, dedicated fan base.

An iridescent record that glows with warmth even as it explores the desolation of personal pain, Three is the latest chapter in Phantogram’s impressive ascent to the forefront of music—as well as proof that nothing, at this point, can hold them back.

 We’re still obsessed with the amazing single “Fall in Love”, and its brilliant video, here below:

Biography and video courtesy of Phantogram / Republic / UMG, copyright 2017, all rights reserved.


Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner will be greatly missed. I had the honor to meet and hear this legendary guitarist with Jefferson Airplane live, many years ago, as a guest of Janis Joplin’s band Big Brother and the Holding Company. Paul Kantner was amazing. When I first heard his work on “White Rabbit,” and (Don’t you want) “Somebody to Love,” I was blown away with his bands phenomenal sound.

About Town

 Swarming Orchids will be rocking the stage this Saturday at Bar Sinister in Hollywood.  Soriah will be joining them on stage as opener, with Askelon Sain up first.

Grimes Releases New Video

The brilliant multi-media recording artist and producer Grimes shares the official video for ‘Venus Fly,’ which she released to the world recently.  Hollywood Sentinel named Grimes as one of the Top 10 Greatest Artists of Our Time last year, and ‘Venus Fly,’ brilliantly mixing house, drum and bass, dance, techno, trance, and more, solidifies that decision. Directed and edited by Grimes, the video also features Janelle Monáe. ‘Venus Fly’ is now live online. ‘Venus Fly’ is taken from Grimes’ critically-adored album ‘Art Angels’ (4AD). Last year, Grimes toured for the album, selling out venues and headlining festivals around the world. Regarding her outstanding directing, Grimes says of the video, “We used the Phantom cameras to create a feeling of time suspended.” Check out the video here:

New Movies

Their Finest

Image, copyright, 2017, Warner Brothers, all rights reserved.
With London emptied of its men now fighting at the Front, Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) is hired by the British Ministry of Information as a “slop” scriptwriter charged with bringing “a woman’s touch” to morale-boosting propaganda films, in the motion picture from Warner BrothersTheir Finest. Her natural flair quickly gets her noticed by dashing movie producer Buckley (Sam Claflin) whose path would never have crossed hers in peacetime. As bombs are dropping all around them, Catrin, Buckley and a colorful crew work furiously to make a film  that will warm the hearts of the nation. Although Catrin’s artist husband looks down on her job,  she quickly discovers there is as much camaraderie, laughter and passion behind the camera as  there is onscreen.
GRAMMY® Award-winning MEGHAN TRAINOR will release her new song “I’m a Lady” from Sony Pictures Animation’s upcoming film Smurfs: The Lost Villagetomorrow on Epic Records worldwide. The accompanying music video will premiere next Friday, March 3.
Trainor also announced that she will be voicing one of the new characters from Smurfs: The Lost Village, SmurfMelody, in the fully animated film.
“I’m so excited to be singing ‘I’m a Lady’ for this movie,” said Trainor.  “It’s a song that I love and am very proud of, and I can’t wait for the world to finally hear it! Getting to play a small part in the film with my character, SmurfMelody, makes this all the more exciting! So happy to be a part of the Smurfs family!”
 This content is copyright, 2017, and other respective parties wherein indicated, Hollywood Sentinel, all rights reserved.