Since emerging in the early ’80s, Bananarama has had a string of hugely successful pop hits, including “Venus,” “Cruel Summer” and “I Heard a Rumour.” They’ve continued to tour and release music over the years and recently released “In Stereo,” their first album in a decade. “In Stereo” has a modern edge, but the pure, energetic pop songs are unmistakably Banarama. It’s become their most commercially successful albums in years, hitting the top 40 in England and several other countries.
Featuring bassist Andy Rourke (The Smiths) and frontman/guitarist KAV (formerly of Happy Mondays), Blitz Vega creates heavy yet danceable music with driving guitar hooks and powerful vocals. The two musicians had discussed working together for years but only recently found their schedules aligned. So far, Blitz Vega has put out a single, “Hey Christo,” and they will be following it up with an EP recorded live in-studio (no overdubs) at the legendary Abbey Road Studio.
In recent years, electronic music pioneer Howard Jones has been focusing his energy on live shows rather than new albums. His last release, “Engage” (2015) was part of a larger crowd-funded multi-media project. But having taken a break from touring to focus on new material, Jones is back with “Transform,” his first regular album in almost a decade. “Transform” showcases Jones fully embracing his electronic roots but within a modern context.
The Church recently kicked off the second leg of a US tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of their “Starfish” album. We interviewed frontman Steve Kilby before the first leg, and recently had the chance to speak with guitarist Ian Haug, as well. Haug is the newest member of The Church, having joined in 2013. Previously, he was best known for being part of the long-running and highly successful Australian band Powderfinger.
The intensity and freshness of The Church’s 2017 album ‘Man Woman Life Death Infinity’ proved that the Australian band is in no way stuck in the past. But they have also been happy to celebrate their musical history, with such projects as their current US tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of their breakout album “Starfish.”
With his new solo album, “Science Fiction,” former Thompson Twins member Tom Bailey has made a welcome return to pop music. After Thompson Twins ended in the early 1990s, Bailey remained active with such projects as Babble and International Observer, but his music had shifted into more experimental and varied directions. But after starting to perform Thompson Twins material live again, he founds his love for pop music re-ignited.
ZANTi is a new project from Anni Hogan and Derek Forbes. Hogan is known for her solo career work and collaborations with Marc Almond, Nick Cave, Barry Adamson & Wolfgang Flur, among others. Forbes was a long-time member of Simple Minds and has also been part of bands such as Propaganda and Big Country. After 18 months of work, they completed their cinematically inspired eight-song debut album “Broken Hearted City.”
Midge Ure is no stranger to radically re-working music from his past. On his 2015 “Fragile Troubadour” tour, he proved that even such Ultravox classics as “Vienna” and “Reap the Wild Wind” could maintain their power when stripped down to just guitar and voice. On his new album, “Orchestrated,” Ure goes to the other extreme, re-imaging solo and Ultravox material with the accompaniment of an orchestra.