Blondie & Garbage - The Rage and Rapture Tour
“Here comes the 21st Century,” Debbie Harry assuredly sang nearly three decades ago on her solo disc Def Dumb And Blonde, “it’s gonna be so much better for a girl like me.”
With the turn of the century well behind us now, that gleeful prediction has certainly come true: Singer-songwriter Harry, guitarist and co-writer Chris Stein, powerhouse drummer Clem Burke and their band-mates in Blondie are undeniable pop icons, their sound and sensibility as fresh as when they first topped the charts in the late 1970s.
In their newest project, Po11inator, Blondie enlisted a group of cool songwriters to contribute to the record weaving their own way into the living, breathing story of Blondie, a group that directly affected their own genetic makeup as artists. The list is enviable and reflects the dynamism of Blondie's very own cross-pollinating past – the fans and friends contributing material are blonde-bewigged superstar Sia, Blood Orange frontman Dev Hynes, British singer Charli XCX, Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio), Nick Valensi (The Strokes), Johnny Marr (The Smiths), and Canadian movie blogger and indie rocker (under the name An Unkindness) Adam Johnston. The invincible Joan Jett and cross- dressing comedian and singer John Roberts, who rose from DIY YouTube sensation to Bob’s Burger regular, both contribute vocals.
Front-woman Harry and guitarist/conceptual mastermind Stein have been with Blondie since the beginning, as has drummer Burke, whose powerhouse playing has always distinguished Blondie’s sound. Joining them on tour and in the studio are Leigh Foxx (bass) and Tommy Kessler (guitar) as well as keyboardist-songwriter Matt Katz-Bohen. Blondie’s impact has been greater than the sum of its record sales: Harry’s persona, and the band’s boundary-pushing pop, has shaped the look and sound of many chart-topping female artists who followed in the last three decades, from Madonna to Lady Gaga to Katy Perry and, of course, Sia. Po11inator delves even deeper into this idea: inspiration from Blondie’s action- packed past shaping the sound of our collective future.
In the spring of 2013, the members of Garbage — Shirley Manson, Steve Marker, Duke Erikson and Butch Vig — gathered in Los Angeles to start work on their sixth studio album. Except the recording didn’t begin in a studio, per se. It began where so many bands first do: in a basement.
The basement was Vig’s, perhaps one of the least elaborate home studios a multi-platinum producer has ever had. “My home studio is just a room where I watch Packers games,” says Vig. “There’s no sound proofing. It’s just four walls of drywall. So it’s got a bit of a trashy vibe to it.”
Some will hear echoes of Garbage’s 1995 debut album in Strange Little Birds — including Manson herself. “To me, this record, funnily enough, has the most to do with the first record than any of the previous records,” she says. “It’s getting back to that beginner’s headspace.” In part, she says, that’s a result of not having anyone to answer to. Strange Little Birds is Garbage’s second album off their own label, STUNVOLUME. It’s a return to the freedom they had when working on their very first songs at Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin, more than twenty years ago, before they’d ever signed a label deal. “It’s so liberating,” says Manson.
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Price range: $50.50-$138.50
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