All You Need Is Now is a return to the sound that put the band on the New Wave map.

Duran Duran
All You Need Is Now

For 30 years now, Duran Duran has been one of the few unabashed purveyors of synth pop to also make guitar and bass guitar crucial elements of its sound. Andy Taylor’s chorused, funky/ neo-punk chord stabs added indispensible bite and adventure to every one of the band’s ’80s hits, from 1981’s “Planet Earth” to “Girls on Film,” “The Reflex,” “Wild Boys,” and “A View to a Kill.” Likewise, John Taylor’s slinky, galloping bass lines were probably the funkiest on radio that whole decade. Andy left the band in the ’90s, and former Frank Zappa guitarist Warren Cuccurullo came aboard to shake things up for several years. Andy returned for a couple of albums in 2004 and 2007, but he’s now out again. You’d never know it from All You Need Is Now, though. Session guitarist Dominic Brown has been filling in since Andy’s second departure in ’07. And though Brown is far more adventurous, toneful, and adept than Andy Taylor, anyone hoping he’d add the same sorts of earthy grit he’s been adding to Duran live shows—search YouTube for “Duran Duran – Skin Divers (Private Sessions)” for a sampling—will be disappointed. Brown’s lines sound exactly like Taylor circa 1981. In fact, the whole album is a return to the sound that put the band on the New Wave map. The first single, “All you Need Is Now,” takes a stab at being more cutting edge with its industrial synths, semi-sneering verses, and danceable chorus, but the rest of the album is filled with so many nods to the past that it comes across as cynical. It’s not that they can’t pull it off—it is their sound—and there certainly are some nice songs, including the bittersweet, acoustic-driven “Leave the Light On” and the catchy, upbeat “Blame the Machines.” It’s just a shame Brown is left to so slavishly cop the sound of a player that he obviously blows out of the water.

It’s not difficult to replace the wiring in your pickups, but it takes some finesse. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. After numerous requests, this month we’ll have a closer look at changing wires on a single-coil pickup. As our guinea pig for this, I chose a standard Stratocaster single-coil, but it’s basically the same on all single-coil pickups and easy to transfer. It’s not complicated but it is a delicate task to not destroy your pickup during this process, and there are some things you should keep in mind.

Read More Show less

The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

Read More Show less

Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

Read More Show less