29 March 2023

Depeche Mode - Memento Mori


Depeche|ModeMemento | Mori

Yep, this is another review of the fifteenth studio album from Depeche Mode, Memento Mori, released 24 March 2023.  Anyone find it weird that their first tour date was a day before that album release?  How are people suppose to 'study' for the concert when they have not heard the album?

This is not a "first time reaction to" review.  Those are lame. The album has been out a few days, and I have listened to it a few times.  I have no formal training in music, so I will not get into technical stuff (too much).  For sure there are tons of reviews out there that are better and more informative than mine.  Critics seem to give this album positive reviews, while some long time fans are split and tend to lean towards the negative side.

I have been a fan of Depeche Mode for almost four decades, not that it means anything to anyone.  Heck, I have no idea who Caroline is...more on that later.  Here we go, track by track of Memento Mori

1. My Cosmos Is Mine - 7/10

Good intro for the album.  We hear a lot of distortion, some call that "over produced", which has been common with the band with their last few albums.   Dave Gahan sounds good, although it seems like there is a bit of auto tune being used here.  Martin Gore's parts seem out of place, and sort of ruins the mood.  There is a section of repetitive lyrics, which I am not a fan of.  "No more, no more, no more..."  Song would benefit from ending sooner, instead of dragging it out.  Repeating lyrics is just lazy writing and producing.

2. Wagging Tongue -  8/10

A little "Teenage Wasteland" keyboard like intro.  Would not hurt to turn down the keyboards a notch so it does not fight with the rest of the instruments and vocals.  This is a good track. Again, the copy/paste lyrics could have been trimmed down - "watch another angel die..."

3. Ghosts Again - 10/10

This song.  Each line.  Two beats.  Simple.  Easy to hear why this was chosen as the first single, by far the best track on this album.  Great track that got everyone excited for the new album.  Another great track with classic DM elements.  As the first single this track prepares us for a much darker, slower (tempo) album.

4. Don't Say You Love Me - 10/10

Love the lyrics of this one.  Music is done elegantly, and not overdone.  This is a strong track. 

5. My Favourtie Stranger - 7/10

Feels like a lot of callbacks to older DM.  Little too much distortion on the rifts for my taste. The one note repetitive keyboard can use some work to make it more interesting.  Overall a good track, with nothing special.  The vocals, again, seemed like they were put through some sort of auto tuning and/or digital manipulation.  The 'solo section' just sounds like a mess...like a bunch of kids turning every speaker and distortion to 11.

6. Soul With Me - 5/10

Usually not a fan of Martin tracks, except for the early ballads.  This is no different.  Lot of the elements, instruments, vocals, etc., just seems all over the place.  Chorus, again, is monotonous.  Take my soul, indeed.  I am sure people are going to love this track like they love "Home", but it is no "Somebody"

7. Caroline's Monkey - 8/10

This is...different, not your typical DM, but it works.  Like many of the tracks, the electronic synth noises seem out of place.  Still not sure who Caroline is, and why she has a monkey.  I am sure it has to do something with drugs and/or sex. 

8. Before We Drown - 8/10

Another strong track.  Lyrics are great, but unfortunately, are drowned by the music (instruments).  The backing track needs to be toned down a little to let the song float above the clutter.  

9. People Are Good - 8/10

Good beat on this one, more 'dancey' than the rest of the album.  The most upbeat song of the album.  Fairly good balance between the music and lyrics.  I can see this being used in a night club scene, like in Collateral or some John Wick movie...something where people are dancing while an assassin is killing bad guys to flashy lights and this track.  Still, too much distortion.

10. Always You - 6/10

The words are set to a beat of a ballad, but the music is set to a dance track.  Sounds like a dance remix.  The beat kind of ruins the song.  Also, say it with me...repetitive lyrics.  Surely you can replace "my love" with something else.  Maybe sing "There's always you" once, maybe twice.  Come up with something different or just end the song earlier.

11. Never Let Me Go - 5/10

Another track where the beat and music competes with each other and the words, with distortion and auto tune coming out on top...with repetitive lyrics.

12. Speak To Me - 8/10

Little Nat King Cole "When I Fall In Love" feel to this ballad. Since Dave (and others) have started writing tracks, their tracks been very good.  While different from typical DM, this track is great...until the producers go crazy with the distortion pedal at the end.  Otherwise, great track to close out the album, much like "Goodnight Lovers" was for "Exciter".

Conclusion - Overall score 7.5/10

This is a darker, slower tempo, distorted version of the Depeche Mode, with repeating lyrics.  "MmWaaahhh...dgzzz, dgzzz" - These have been the go to sounds for a few albums now.  While those ingredients work for some tracks, it should not be used on every track.  It definitely should be overtaking the track as there is way too much distortion and clutter ruining otherwise good/great songs. 

While there is a lot of copy/paste song writing on many of the tracks, the overall lyrics is well written.  As I have mentioned, some of these songs could work better buy trimming those monotonous areas, as well as toning down the electronic distortions and auto tune of  the voice.

Many of the song titles are confusing, as they call back to Depeche Mode classics like People are People, Never Let Me Down Again, Speak and Spell, It's No Good, etc.  Alternate track names would help allow these new tracks to stand out.  Well, I guess the distortion is the difference.

Looking forward to seeing Depeche Mode concert, again.. Until then, I will be studying and absorbing Memento Mori.

05 March 2023

Eddie "the Editor" Hamilton - Top Gun: Maverick


Top Gun: Maverick Avid Timeline

 Obviously, I wrote this in advance, since this has been bugging me for months. I have two intros to this post, one for each outcome of the 95th Annual Academy Awards, which happens next Sunday. 

Version 1:  Congratulations to Eddie Hamilton on winning the Academy Award for Best Achievement in Film Editing for Top Gun: Maverick!  TGM really was the best movie of 2022.  While the film was nominated for six Oscars, Film Editing was a sure lock for Eddie Hamilton.

But, there is one editing hiccup that just does not flow right...

Version 2:  Well, I guess it is always good to get nominated by the Academy. If you ask me, and many others, Top Gun: Maverick should have been nominated for more, and won more, especially when we are talking about a once in a generation cinematic experience like Top Gun; Maverick. 

There is one editing hiccup that may has cost Eddie Hamilton his first Oscar win...

This scene has bothered me for a while.  You may have missed it this first time.  But upon further viewing, there is a clear continuity mistake in the edit.  Here is the timeline as presented to us by Academy Award Nominated/Winner, Eddie Hamilton.  

When the team is on the carrier, we see beautiful shots of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) with a great soundtrack.  Speaking of shot and soundtrack.  Huge Oscar snubs for Cinematographer Claudio Miranda and Composers Hans Zimmer, Harold Faltermeyer , Lady Gaga.

Tom Cruise as Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell

Anyway, we cut to...sorry, Eddie Hamilton cuts to Maverick in the hangar bay staring out to sea, in full flight gear, delivering the iconic Top Gun line, "Talk to me Goose", as he collects his thoughts.  This is his final mission.  Note that his flight suit has no patches.  Patches are removed as one gets deployed into combat zones.

Charles Parnell as Rear Admiral Solomon "Warlock" Bates

Warlock appears behind Maverick, "Captain Mitchell.  You're where you belong.  Make us proud." Behind, the track appropriately titled "You're Where You Belong".  Brilliant!  Maverick acknowledges as the elevator comes down with two Hornets.  

Maverick on elevator, Warlock looks on

Maverick steps on the elevator and rides up with the two F/A-18's.  Much cooler shot than watching Maverick take the stairs. 

Heading up to deck.  Full flight gear, no patches

The next scene, we are in the hangar for a mission briefing. Uh, they have briefing rooms for mission briefs, why have it in the hangar area where there is a bunch of noise and stuff going on? Again, looks better on camera.  Cyclone and Warlock are there as the team is chosen by team leader Maverick.  Note that Maverick is only in his flight suit, with no flight gear.  Also, all his patches (Top Gun Fighter Weapons School, Name tag, American Flag) are on the flight suit.

Mission briefing in the hangar.  Flight suit only, with patches

After the brief, they all head up to deck for a sweet montage

Phoenix and Bob ready for mission

Wait, so Maverick is in full gear...goes from hangar to deck...then takes off the gear, puts patches back on, goes back down below deck to the hangar for mission briefing...picks the team...then removes patches and puts on his gear, again...stand by the elevator for Warlock scene?  Man, Hondo is one busy guy.

Bashir Salahuddin as Wo-1 Bernie "Hondo" Coleman

The briefing scene should be before the Warlock and Maverick scene.  Right?  I could be wrong, but it should go like this:

  • Carrier cutting through the ocean 
  • Mission Brief, Maverick (in flight suit only, with patches) selects the team
  • Pre-flight montage
  • Warlock and Maverick (in full flight gear, no patches) in hangar, "You're where you belong" 
  • Maverick goes up elevator with planes...or take the stairs
  • Hangman/Rooster, on deck "You give'em Hell"
  • Maverick/Rooster pre-flight "We'll talk when we get back

That is it, this is what keeps me up at night.

Update:  Well, well, well.  The final script was released and the time line is exactly what I thought I should be.  Now, we all know that things change due to time, money, availability, etic and hopefully fixed in the editing room.  You can read the scrip HERE


Note that the meeting takes place in the ready room.  Am I looking way too much in to this?

Eddie Hamilton, ACE

Oh, one more thing. In another scene, Maverick say, "this will be a cake walk".  No!  This is a chance for another callback. The line should be "this will be a walk in a park".  Come on, guys!  Otherwise, perfect movie, masterfully edited. 

01 March 2023

2022 NHL Reverse Retro Jerseys - Pacific Division


2022 NHL Reverse Retros

Finally, the Pacific Division.  After this, I will be done...and you will not have to read about my stupid opinions.  At least, until the next Reverse Retros come out.  Less work for me, as there was a lot of research just looking for good images of these uniforms in action.  Less work for you, of course, you can just skip this for something way more interesting.  But, there will be some interesting facts and theories in this entry.  

Anaheim Ducks

Anaheim Ducks - 8/10

Admit it, the Disney logo is the better logo. Another all-time-great logo in sports.  People whined about Disney buying a hockey team to promote a movie.  Yeah, so?  It takes years and a lot of money to start an NHL franchise.  Disney just one day said, "hey, how about we promote this mediocre movie franchise by starting a hockey team...in Southern California?"  And, they did!  Bonus, they had some of the best designers in the world designing the logo and uniform.  Although, if I know my licensors, I am sure the designs went through thousands of rounds of changes. 

Pretty much anytime a team goes with orange, green, and/or purple, you have a winning combo.  Heck, the original colours of the Mighty Ducks were green and purple...sorry, "jade and eggplant".  

Oh, the design.  Anaheim has a good history of design.  Yes, even the Wild Wing jersey is awesome!  Why else would that be their first Reverse Retro?  The lone not-so-good design is the wordmark logo.  But, they fixed that by just using the more legible D logo.  This season's Reverse Retro, is a good execution using the logo and template of their original uniform, but replacing it with current colour pallet.  Again, the orange is key here.  The Ducks could have easily (and lazily) stayed with black pants, but those orange pants are fire!  These uniforms pop on ice.

Another reason to love this logo...it is the one worn by Paul Kariya!

Calgary Flames

Calgary Flames - 8/10

Ah, the pedestal jersey.  Back in the mid 1990's, a new technology allowed ink to be laser printed on fabric.  Which, for teams in the NHL, jerseys with whacky stripes and not limited to traditional basic  horizontal striping (or major change in the template).  Coming out of the lockout shortened season, the Calgary Flames were one of the teams that used this new technology and gave us the pedestal.  The pedestal jersey era was the dark years for the Flames. 

While I am not a fan of black uniforms, more on that later, there is enough accent colours here to balance out the black.  This is the first time we see the Flaming C logo on a black jersey (as a main logo), as other black jerseys featured Blasty the flaming horse head.  Is the white Flaming C too bright?  Would a yellow Flaming C, and numbers (on back) work better?  I get it, this is the same white Flaming C from the mid-1990's with black and yellow trim.  But, ponder this...yellow C with red and white trim, same with back numbers.  Keep the numbers on the sleeve the same as the white and black trim work well against the red.

I also dig the pants.  Back in the day, I got some scrap vinyl and hand sewed this exact pattern on my hockey pants.  I even did the same pattern on the 'midsoles' of my skates with coloured electrical tape.  All this to match my white pedestal jersey and the socks.  Still have everything,  I even made a hand sewed and painted a mini jersey, using the vinyl pieces to make the Flaming C crest.  Nerd!

Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton Oilers - 8/10

Remember when Todd McFarlane was part owner of the Oilers?  Remember when he designed an alternate jersey for the team?  Remember how many thought that design was lame?  The original design of the jersey was a navy blue base with grey (silver) and white trim. This Reverse Retro added the orange that the original needed to make everything pop.  I get it, you want a cool looking third jersey so you go brooding comic book dark with monotone theme.  Hence the dark navy blue and minimal colour accents...think Gotham City Oilers.

Speaking of monotone, the Oilers' current alternate uniform, the blue and orange one, is crap.  Damn, what an eyesore.  When you have complementary colours like that, on a uniform, it needs some white (or other accent colour...not black) to break things up.  It just does not work.  Get rid of it.

Anyway, this crashing-mechanical-oil-drop-on-a-space-sprocket is the first and only time the main Oilers logo is not on the jersey.  The alternate uniforms had a good run for a few years.  Maybe they got rid of it because fans did not think too much of it.  Maybe it was gone because McFarlane sold his part of ownership.  Or maybe they did not want to be know as just winning five championships.  See the five rivets on the gear?  Yep, those are the five Cups.  As mentioned in my write up on the Islanders, I am not a fan of tallying the teams championships on a logo.  Okay, they got rid of this design (partly) due to change in jersey template throughout the league when Reebok re-designed all the NHL jerseys.

Los Angeles Kings
Los Angeles, Kings - 9/10

Nailed it.  Prepare for a history lesson and why purple and gold is the direction the Kings should go and never should have moved away from.

When you think purple and gold, you think royalty.  That is why these colours were chosen to represent the Kings.  The Kings are the only major sports team originally from and stayed in Los Angeles.  Sadly, when you think purple and gold, especially in LA, you think Lakers.  Well, the Lakers were originally from Minnesota (where there are lakes).  The original colours were blue and white...like water.  When they relocated to LA, they keep the name and colours.  

Meanwhile, the Kings were the royal purple and gold.  With the Lakers and Kings playing in the Forum, the Lakers changed their colours to match the Kings.  Yes, Lakers' colours is really Kings' colours.  Then in 1988, you had two things that literally changed the look of the Kings forever.  Under new ownership, the Kings were looking for a new identity. With the popularity of the Los Angeles Raiders, and  their merch selling like crazy.  The Kings abandoned their royal colours and adapted the silver and black.  They also had a blockbuster trade that brought in Wayne Gretzky.  

The silver and black design is boring.  It just looks black and white.  In this age of big screen colour television, we are watching a black and white hockey game in hi-definition.  All that glitz and glamour in LA and you go with black and white.

Oh, I am not done.  The Kings' current logo is crap!  It sucks!  The crown was their best logo, see Reverse Retro.  They Chevrolet logo was a far step down...you jack the font from the Lakers and colours from the Raiders.  They brought back purple to complement black and silver.  They played with a shield design for a while and even designed a new crown logo.  But, take a good look at the current logo. It is home plate!  Now, they are jacking home plate from the Dodgers.  The worst part is the Kings won two Cups in that jersey/logo, so no way they are changing it anytime soon...and that stupid baseball home plate is in the rafters, representing their hockey team.  Ugh!

Anyway, this Reverse Retro is a win simply for not borrowing from other LA teams and bringing back royalty and originality to the Kings.

Seattle Kraken
Seattle Kraken - 5/10

Uh, okay...I guess.  According to the press release, the design "honours the 1943-44 Isaacson (Seattle) Ironmen of the Northwest Industrial Hockey League (NIHL)".  Remember what I said about vintage jersey designs?  They are limited to horizontal striping due to stitching techniques.

Giving the Kraken a pass on this design (sort of), since this only their second season in the league. No real 'history'.  But, why not use that awesome secondary logo seen on the shoulders?  Yeah, that one!  The awesome anchor with the Seattle Space Needle.  How about that Metropolitans jersey they were teasing when before they named the team?  

I think they could have done something better/different.  Without knowing the history of the city and its relation to hockey, the Ironmen tribute is a deep dive.  This just looks like a third...a good third, and a good enough Reverse Retro, under the circumstances

San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks - 8/10

Wow, the Sharks nailed it with this design.   Since they are limited in logos, it was great move to dig deep into Bay Area NHL history with this Golden State Seals tribute uniform.  The Seals went through a few uniform/logo changes in their short history.  This design was from the last few seasons in Oakland, before they relocated to Cleveland.  

Fortunately, the Sharks have a pretty good history of uniform designs.  Okay, a few flaws...and you know where I am going with this.  Yep, the black jerseys.  At one point, every Pacific team had a black uniform.  Boring!  Although they have modified their logo to give it a more 'modern' look...similar to the Flyers, the Sharks do not have separate logos for home and away. They have one logo.  So, that logo did not pop against those black uniforms, especially when they removed the triangle (which may have helped it pop) on the black uniforms.  Hey, how about a grey (silver) shark? 

By the way, this is the first time the Sharks have something other than their logo on their jerseys.  For a few seasons, the Sharks had their main logo on the front, and on the shoulders of their jerseys.  That is too much.  The fin logo on the shoulders was a nice touch. Good to see that is back...could work as an alternate logo.

This Reverse Retro design is a great look.  The Seals knew they were on the right path when they picked these colours.  Just ask the Flint Tropics from the ABA.  But, imagine if the Sharks went with the yellow/green (Oakland Athletics) Seals uniforms...with the white skates.  White skates are awesome, just ask Sergei Fedorov.

Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks - 7/10

Bro, what are you doing?  The Canucks almost had a perfect design with this Reverse Retro.  But, they done screwed up.  So much good happening with this design, and one stupid design-by-committee ruined it.  Good news is, there is an easy fix.

The good parts.  It looks retro...and I do not mean "Reverse Retro"...I mean, it looks timeless.  The proportions of the stripes are spot, with the green balancing out the blue.  The elbow strip repeated on the socks.  The Johnny Canuck logo is the Canucks' best logo.  Yep, first time used as a main logo on their uniform.  Bonus points for having lace-up collar...retro and timeless.

The bad.  Look where the Captain C is located.  Yes, I bring it up every time a team does this...because the C/A belongs on the left side of the uniform.  Why is the C/A forced to the right in this design?  There are numbers on the left side!  What is this, some sort of Bizzaro world?  Numbers do not belong on the front of a hockey jersey.  That is another strike.  

Wait, there is more, look at the left arm...what is missing?  Yeah, the jersey number...there is nothing there.  Hold on, going off on a tangent.  Remember when the league added numbers to the front of the helmet so "refs and identify the players better"?  Well, good luck identifying the players when they are skating right to left, you cannot see their number.  This is almost as bad as shoulder numbers.  Some intern must have shifted the the C/A and jersey number before submitting the design to the league...and then some intern in the league front office approved it.  

Since this is just a limited edition uniform, it gets a slight pass.  Like I said, this is an easy fix.  When...yes, when...the Canucks make this design their main uniforms, they need to do it properly and move the C/A and number to their assigned positions.  If you are a Canucks fan, let the organization know.  If you bought or plan to buy this jersey, get it customized with name/number/captain...and ask them to put the letters and numbers in the right place. 

Vegas Golden Knights

Vegas Golden Knights - 11/10

Winner, winner...chicken dinner!  In their short history, Vegas has nailed every jersey.  Their regular home and away has patterns and textures on the logo and sleeves.  They went with grey as their dark jerseys.  For their whites, they have matching white gloves...the first to have home and away gloves. 

In true Vegas fashion, they went with a gold...and I mean GOLD...for their alternate jersey.  With limited history, their first Reverse Retros honour the Las Vegas Thunder, using their template.  They did this in red, with their secondary 'star' logo.  I mean, come on!  Sure, those retros looks a little like the 2003 Flames jersey, why mess with great design.

Now for their fifth jersey design, Vegas goes with a black uniform.  They had two previous chances to fall back on a black jersey, but they waited until now.  You know how I generally feel about black uniforms.  But, the Golden Knights do a good job with enough accents to warrant a colour television.  Striping is good.  Again gold for Golden Knights, not yellow, but gold with sparkles.  Great selection of font choice, even though wordmarks in general are lame.  The VEGAS font is from the Excalibur hotel, while the number font is from the old Stardust hotel.  Can you get more Vegas?  Yes, you can

Glow in the dark!!!

Oh, I should mention that parts of the uniform GLOW IN THE DARK!!!  The white elements, the front VEGAS letters, player's numbers on back and arms, trim around the shoulder logos, adidas logo on back of neck, trim on pants, and off course the corporate sponsor logo all have lume. 

Yes, I would buy one just for the lume.  

There you have it, some rando's opinion on the 2022 NHL Reverse Retro jerseys for all 32 teams.  Thanks for making it this far.  The adidas contract runs out next season (or season after), so there will be a new uniform manufacturer and new designs.  Until next time...