Imagine Dragons – Smoke+Mirrors

imageLately I have been listening to American rock band Imagine Dragons second studio album Smoke + Mirrors, which was released February 17, 2015. Hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, Imagine Dragons’ line up consists of lead vocalist Dan Reynolds, guitarist Wayne “Wing” Sermon, bassist Ben McKee and drummer Daniel Platzman. They first gained exposure after releasing their debut studio album, Night Visions in 2012 with Billboard naming them “The Breakthrough Band of 2013”, and Rolling Stone naming their single “Radioactive” “the biggest rock hit of the year”. They were also described by MTV as “the year’s biggest breakout band”. Imagine Dragons won an American Music Award for Favorite Alternative Artist, a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance, five Billboard Music Awards, and a World Music Award. In May 2014 for Night Visions and were nominated for a total of fourteen different Billboard Music Awards, including Top Artist of the Year and a Milestone Award, recognizing innovation and creativity. Imagine Dragons latest album Smoke+Mirrors is Self-produced by members of the band along with English hip-hop producer Alexander Grant, known by his moniker Alex Da Kid, and has been described as modern pop-rock gem which scales back on the electronic frippery, revealing a tightly focused rock juggernaut.  It has also been described as “an ambitious, rock-solid effort, with potential hits galore although I thought that some of the songs are little disjointed  Opening track and first single Shots deploys a guitar part reminiscent of Coldplay circa Viva La Vida alongside pulsing synths, the song Friction mixes Berber rhythms with Rock, while the song I’m So Sorry sounds like The Black Keys and the songs Trouble and Bet My Life resemble Mumford And Sons. Here is The track listing

1. ‘Shots’ 2. ‘Gold’ 3. ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ 4. ‘I’m So Sorry’ 5. ‘I Bet My Life’ 6. ‘Polaroid’ 7. ‘Friction 8. ‘It Comes Back to You’ 9. ‘Dream’ 10. ‘Trouble’ 11. ‘Summer’ 12. ‘Hopeless Opus’ 13. ‘The Fall

Iain Banks

imageScottish author Iain Banks , was born 16 February 1954 in Dunfermline, Fife. His mother was a professional ice skater and his father was an officer in the Admiralty. An only child, Banks lived in North Queensferry until the age of nine, near the naval dockyards in Rosyth where his father was based. his family then moved to Gourock due to the requirements of his father’s work.After attending Gourock and Greenock High Schools, Banks studied English, philosophy and psychology at the University of Stirling (1972–1975). he wrote his second novel TTR during his first year at university.Following graduation Banks chose a succession of jobs that left him free to write in the evenings. These posts supported his writing throughout his twenties and allowed him to take long breaks between contracts, during which time he travelled through Europe, Scandinavia and North America. He was an expediter analyser for IBM, a technician (for British Steel) and a costing clerk for a Chancery Lane, London law firm during this period of his life. Banks decided to become a writer at the age of 11 and completed his first novel The Hungarian Lift-Jet at 16.Following the publication and success of The Wasp Factory (1984), Banks began to write full-time. His editor at Macmillan, James Hale, advised him to write one book a year and Banks agreed to this schedule. Banks’s first science fiction book Consider Phlebaswas released in 1987. The Crow Road (1992) was adapted as a BBC television series and Espedair Street (1987) was broadcast on BBC Radio 4.Banks cited Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Brian Aldiss, M. John Harrison and Dan Simmons as literary influences.

imageBanks published work under two names. His parents had intended to name him “Iain Menzies Banks”, but his father made a mistake when registering the birth and “Iain Banks” became the officially registered name. Despite this error, Banks continued to use his middle name. However Banks’ editor enquired about the possibility of omitting the ‘M’ as it appeared “too fussy” and the potential existed for confusion with Rosie M. Banks, a romantic novelist in the Jeeves novels by P.G. Wodehouse; Banks agreed to the omission. Following three mainstream novels, Banks’s publishers agreed to publish his first science fiction (SF) novel Consider Phlebas. To create a distinction between the mainstream and SF novels, Banks suggested the return of the ‘M’ to his name and the author’s second title was consequently confirmed. His first successful novel was The Wasp Factory and following the publication and success of The Wasp Factory (1984), Banks began to write on a full-time basis. His first science fiction book, Consider Phlebas, was released in 1987, marking the start of the popular The Culture series. Banks was also the subject of The Strange Worlds of Iain Banks South Bank Show (1997), a television documentary that examined his mainstream writing, and was also an in-studio guest for the final episode of Marc Riley’s Rocket Science radio show, broadcast on BBC Radio 6 Music. aradio adaptation of Banks’s The State of the Art was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2009; the adaptation was written by Paul Cornell and the production was directed/produced by Nadia Molinari. in 1998 Espedair Street was dramatised as a serial for Radio 4, presented by Paul Gambaccini in the style of a Radio 1 documentary.

In 2011 Banks was featured on the BBC Radio 4 programme Saturday Live. Banks reaffirmed his atheism during his Saturday Live appearance, whereby he explained that death is an important “part of the totality of life” and should be treated realistically, instead of feared.Banks appeared on the BBC television programme Question Time, a show that features political discussion. In 2006 Banks captained a team of writers to victory in a special series ofBBC Two’s University Challenge. Banks also won a 2006 edition of BBC One’s Celebrity Mastermind; the author selected “Malt whisky and the distilleries of Scotland” as his specialist subject. His final interview with Kirsty Wark was broadcast as Iain Banks: Raw Spirit on BBC2 Scotland on Wednesday 12 June 2013. Banks was involved in the theatre production The Curse of Iain Banks that was written by Maxton Walker and performed at theEdinburgh Fringe festival in 1999. Banks wrote the music for some of the songs that were featured in the production and collaborated with the play’s soundtrack composer Gary Lloyd, who also composed the score for a musical production of the Banks novel The Bridge. Sadly on April 2013, Banks announced that he had inoperable cancer and was unlikely to live beyond a year.He died on 9 June 2013. By his death in June 2013 Banks had published 26 novels. His twenty-seventh novel The Quarry was published posthumously. His books have been adapted for theatre, radio and television. In 2008, The Times named Banks in their list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945″.

Andy Taylor (Duran Duran, The Power Station)

Probably Best known as a member of Duran Duran and The Power Station, the English Guitarist, singer-songwriter & Record Producer Andy Taylor was born on this day 16 February in 1961. He began playing guitar at the age of eleven, and was soon playing with local bands, even producing one at the age of sixteen. He dropped out of school early to tour England and Europe with several different bands, playing working men’s clubs and air force bases. Then in April 1980, as Taylor puts it, “I made that fateful train journey down to Birmingham”.

Duran Duran

Duran Duran began their rise to fame at a Birmingham club named the “Rummrunner”, owned by their managers and mentors, brothers Paul & Michael Berrow. It was centred on the music and ostentatious fashion of the era, particularly dance & disco music, which had fused with punk and electronic to create the sound and look adopted by various “New Romantic” acts of the time. The band was heavily influenced by the 12 inch cuts of the day. Taylor says… “Anybody who is familiar with early DD (Duran Duran) will be aware of the Night Versions concept… the underlying influence of the 12″ mix – Edwards & Rodgers – Giorgio Moroder … It was all part of the matrix – we tested our first hits on the dance-floor before going anywhere near the radio – it was the way you defined your style and who you were, through the club you were associated with – where you hung-out … I’m a rock fan, but the girls hung-out at the disco – I recommend a large portion of both.” The band signed to EMI Records in December 1980 only seven months after completing the line-up. Their debut single “Planet Earth” was released shortly after that, with their self-titled debut album, Duran Duran, released in June 1981. By 1983, the band was a global success story, and went on to have many other hits including Union of the Snake, Girls on Film, Rio, Wild Boys, The Reflex, Hungry like a Wolf and New Moon on Monday

Robert Palmer & the Power Station

While Duran Duran were on hiatus in 1985, Andy Taylor and bassist John Taylor joined renowned session drummer and former Chic member Tony Thompson and Robert Palmer to form the band Power Station. Their eponymous album, recorded mostly at the New York studio for which the band was named, reached the Top 20 in the UK and the Top 10 in the US, and spawned two hit singles with “Some Like It Hot” and a cover of the T. Rex song “Get It On (Bang a Gong)”. Palmer performed live with the band only once that year, on Saturday Night Live. The band toured, and even played Live Aid with singer Michael Des Barres after Palmer bowed out at the last moment to go back into the studio to further his newly revitalized solo career. Taylor also performed with Duran Duran at the Live Aid event. Palmer recorded the album Riptide in 1985, recruiting Thompson and Andy Taylor to play on some tracks and Power Station producer Bernard Edwards, who worked with Thompson in the group Chic, to helm the production. Robert recruited Wally Badarou, another Compass Point Star who had laid synthesizer tracks on the Power Station album, plus his long-term drummer, Dony Wynn, for this production as well.

Reunions

In 1994 Taylor participated in the reunion of Power Station and They recorded a second album “Living in Fear” for EMI, then In 2001, Taylor reunited with the other original members of Duran Duran to record their first new music together since 1985. The band secured a new recording contract with Sony Records. Their ensuing album, Astronaut, featured a blend of Taylor’s heavy guitar with the synth hooks of the classic Duran Duran sound. Months prior to the album’s release, the band played their largest ever UK tour in the spring of 2004, which was followed by a world tour in 2005, including Asia, Europe, and North America. The band also performed at Live 8. However In 2006, whilst recording a new Duran Duran album, Taylor once again parted ways with the band. In November 2007 Taylor co-founded RockAffairs.com alongside Sarah Eaglesfield, the former Flightside vocalist and webmistress at duranduran.com. RockAffairs was developed to allow unsigned artists to sell MP3s and merchandise, promote their band and keep 100% of the profit. It also pioneered a maverick Profit Share Scheme where 100% of income from listener signups was distributed amongst bands who sign up for the profit share scheme.

Pete Willis (Def Leppard)

Pete Willis, English guitarist with Def Leppard was born February 16th 1960. Def Leppard were Formed in 1977 in Sheffield as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement.Def Leppard ’s strongest commercial success came between the early 1980s and the early 1990s. Their 1981 album High ‘n’ Dry was produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who helped them begin to define their style, and the album’s stand out track “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” became one of the first metal videos played on MTV in 1982. The band’s next studio album Pyromania in 1983, with the singles Photograph and Rock of Ages, turned Def Leppard into a household name. In 2004, the album ranked number 384 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Def Leppard’s fourth album Hysteria, released in 1987, topped the U.S a nd UK album charts. As of 2009 it has 12x platinum sales in the United States, and has gone on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide. The album contained loads of great songs, including the U.S. Billboard Hot 100number one “Love Bites”, alongside Pour Some Sugar on Me , “Hysteria”,Armaggeddon It , “Animal” Rocket“., Gods of War and Women. Their next studio album Adrenalize reached number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and UK Album Chart in 1992, and contained several hits including, “Let’s Get Rocked” and “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad”. Their 1993 album Retro Active contained the acoustic hit song “Two Steps Behind”, while their greatest hits album Vault released in 1995 featured track “When Love & Hate Collide.