Friday, February 28, 2020

Sweden's The Sounds returns with new music, U.S. tour in the spring

“Write as many good songs as possible and enjoy it while you’re on a roll. We had a great time writing this one. No pressure; just having fun,” explains vocalist Maja Ivarsson for Swedish indie rockers THE SOUNDS about the goal for the new album THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE which is set for release on May 1.

“It’s always been about being in the moment and trying to catch a good melody, chord progression or lyrics when it comes to you.” The first single to be released from the album is the title track which can be streamed here.

Maja describes “Safe and Sound” as “having the courage to dive into something new as long as you got that special person right next to you." 

About "Changes," drummer Fredrik says, “I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly but I really like the vibe of [it] - a simple song and all the instruments and vocals just fit together so nicely.”

The band's tour kicks off in late April in Brooklyn, moving onto Washington D.C., Chicago,  Denver, Los Angeles and Las Vegas before heading back overseas for a summer of major headlines and festival appearances.

“It’s gonna be absolutely amazing coming back to the U.S again,” says Maja excitedly. “It feels like coming home. We’ve done almost 20 tours on American soil and we love every bit of it. Great fans, great venues and the good free spirit."

Adds Fredrik, “I’m very excited to return to the U.S. Very very excited! Can’t wait to get back on the road again with my bandmates and our crew. See you there."

Formed in 1998 in Sweden, The Sounds debuted with 2003's Living in America and its breakthrough singles “Seven Days a Week”, "Rock 'n' Roll", and the title track. Fronted by Maja Ivarsson, The Sounds have released several albums, each spawning singles like “Tony the Beat”, "Painted By Numbers", "Song With A Mission", "No One Sleeps When I'm Awake", “Beatbox”, “Something to Die For”, “Shake Shake Shake” and “Thrill."

“I can only speak for myself but I feel very proud of this one. I’m able to write songs from a different perspective this time, being a mom and all,” says Maja, referring to her baby boy who just turned five years old earlier this year. “It’s been quite some time since we last released an album and a lot of great things have happened in between.”

The current Sounds lineup: Maja Ivarsson (vocals), Felix Rodriguez (guitar), Jesper Anderberg (guitar, keyboards), Johan Richter (bass), and Fredrik Blond (drums).

Track listing:

2. Safe and Sound
3. Changes
4. Bonnie and Clyde
5. Hollow
6. Fingertips
7. Dreaming of You
8. Dim The Lights
9. Stay Free
10. Home
11. Miami

Missing Persons feat. Dale Bozzio ready new album

Popular '80s new wave band Missing Persons featuring original vocalist Dale Bozzio, known for alt-rock hits “Words,” “Destination Unknown” and “Walking In L.A.,” will release Dreaming, a new studio album of cover songs and original tunes, on March 20 via Cleopatra.

Produced by Adam Hamilton, Dreaming includes interpretations of classic rock/pop songs by The Cars, Joy Division, and The The as well as The Rolling Stones, The Mamas & Papas and others. 

The album has three original compositions - “Lipstick,” the title track and “This Time.”

Listen to the first single, a take on Strawberry Alarm Clock's '60s classic “Incense And Peppermints”:

Bozzio says, "This was such an easy, breezy album to make, even though it’s been a long time coming. I think fans will really appreciate the sultriness of this direction of the music and the honesty of the vocals.”

Dreaming will be available on both CD and in a limited-edition PINK vinyl as well as on all digital platforms. 

Bozzio's autobiography, “Life Is So Strange” is due later this year.

Track List:

1. California Dreamin'
2. Lipstick
3. Dreaming
4. We Gotta Get Out Of This Place
5. Playing With Fire
6. Just What I Needed
7. This Is The Day
8. Love Will Tear Us Apart
9. Images Of Heaven
10. Incense And Peppermints
11. This Time
12. In The Rain

Rufus Wainwright news

Acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright has announced the release of his new album. UNFOLLOW THE RULES which arrives via BMG on April 24; pre-orders are available now HERE.

The song "Damsel In Distress" is available for streaming and download along with an official companion video, created by award-winning animator Josh Shaffner and is streaming HERE.

"'Damsel In Distress' is an homage to Joni Mitchell in some ways," says Wainwright, "particularly the structure. My husband and I now live in Laurel Canyon. I wasn't that familiar with Joni's music but Jörn became obsessed and took me on a journey into her music. We ended up hanging out with her and I get now why she's one of the greats. So it's part Laurel Canyon, part a song about a personal relationship that I'm trying to come to terms with, but mostly my Mitchell virginity being broken."

Wainwright's ninth studio LP and first new pop album since 2012, UNFOLLOW THE RULES was produced by Mitchell Froom (Crowded House, Paul McCartney, Richard Thompson, Suzanne Vega, Randy Newman) at a variety of legendary Los Angeles studios - including Sound City Studios, United Recording, and EastWest Studios.

"What I would like this album to symbolize is a coming together of all the aspects of my life which have made me a seasoned artist," says Wainwright. "My aim is to emulate the greats of yore whose second acts produced their finest work - Leonard Cohen when he made THE FUTURE, when Sinatra became Sinatra in his 40s, when Paul Simon put out GRACELAND. Pop music isn't always about your waistline. Many songwriters improve with age. I'm flying the flag for staying alive!"

UNFOLLOW THE RULES was preceded late last year by the first single, "Trouble In Paradise," available now at all DSPs and streaming services HERE. The track arrived alongside a gender-blurring companion video, directed by award-winning Canadian photographer and filmmaker Mia Donovan and streaming now via YouTube.

The album has already been met with remarkable praise from some of Wainwright's friends, fans, and fellow artists. "This is pop music on a grand scale; sweeping, symphonic, unabashedly emotional and fearlessly agnostic in style and delivery," says Sting, while Cyndi Lauper described the album as "Rufus' PET SOUNDS. It sounds like a culmination of everything he has done. It's a great album, catchy and intelligent."

Wainwright is currently working on a number of films, podcasts and musical projects and lives in Los Angeles with husband Jörn Weisbrodt and shares custody for his daughter Viva with her mother Lorca Cohen.


19 - North Charleston, SC - High Water Festival
24 - Bremen, Germany - Jazzahead Festival
25 - Bourges, France - Festival de Printemps de Bourges
27 - London, United Kingdom - Islington Assembly Hall (Two shows)
1 - New York, NY - City Winery
2 - Huntington, NY - Paramount Theatre
3 - New York, NY - City Winery, NY
8 - San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore
9 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour (Two shows)
11 - Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up
17 - Guadalajara, Mexico - Corona Capital
30 - Kværndrup, Denmark - Heartland Festival
2 - Istanbul, Turkey - Zorlu PAC Jazz Festival
4 - Caldas De Reis, Spain - PortAmérica
5 - Madrid, Spain - Noches del Botanico
7 - Oeiras Valley, Portugal - Festival Jardins do Marques
14 - La Rochelle, France - Francofolies Festival
18 - Echternach, Luxembourg - Echterlive
1 - Glasgow, UK - Kelvingrove Park
2 - Co Waterford, Ireland - All Together Now
6 - Paris, France @Grand Rex

A bonus Q&A with DJ Richard Blade of SiriusXM's 1st Wave

I recently had a quick chat with veteran DJ Richard Blade, best known to Southern California alternative radio listeners for his longtime stint on KROQ/106.7 FM Los Angeles, about guesting on Berlin's latest album "Transcendance."

Below are a few excepts that didn't make into the main newspaper feature (see it elsewhere on this blog).

Q: What was your initial thought when Terri first asked you to contribute the voice of an infomercial huckster to the song “Show Me Tonight?
A: I was thrilled. I would do anything for Terri. We have a relationship that goes back to 1982 and she’s always been great.

Q: Did you come up with the spiel quickly?
A: Yeah, we did it in one take. They had the producers there running tape and I ran through it. Terri started laughing at the end and applauding. The guys said, ‘that’s it.’ I asked if they wanted any pickups or anything and they said, ‘no, that was great.’ I sat there another two hours hanging out with the guys. It was so much fun.

Q: Were you trying to channel some of those late night cable TV commercials from the ‘80s and ‘90s?
A: Absolutely. When it was back at 240p [video quality resolution], not 1080p. You’d put it on because there was nothing else on the television. And they would be going [in exaggerated voice], ‘If you call now, you will get this, but wait! There’s more!’ You see so much of it in this consumer society, it was very easy to pull out.

Q: Terri said you convinced her to put the remixed version of “Sex (I’m a)” on the album.
A: Absolutely. I’ve done so many gigs with Terri over the years. Particularly over the last 3-4 years, they’ve done incredible live versions of “Sex” and “Metro.” I said to Terri, over and over again, ‘I would love to play this on the radio. Get a version down.’ She said, ‘We’re thinking about it'...[They've revisited] a classic song without screwing it up. I’m sort of a music purist. I'm not someone who just plays a long version just for the sake of it. 

It has to be good...I think I finally I wore her down and she put it on. People love it [in concert].

Richard Blade's 1st Wave show airs weekdays on SiriusXM from 12-6 p.m., Saturdays at 11-5 p.m. and Sundays at 1-7 p.m. Pacific Time. He can also be heard daily from 12-1 p.m. Pacific Time doing the "Flashback Lunch" on JACK FM/93.1 Los Angeles. 

In 2017, Blade put out the excellent biography "World in My Eyes" and last November issued the historical adventure novel "SPQR." Both are currently available on Amazon.

A bonus Q&A with Terri Nunn of Berlin

Louis Rodiger/Mint Artist Mgmt
There was a lot more interesting material from my recent interview with Terri Nunn of Berlin that didn't make it into my main feature story. Check that newspaper piece out here:

Read the rest below...

Q: Hi Terri. Where have I reached you?
A: I’m at home, making phone calls, revamping the show and going for an intro video with Gerry Casale from Devo, who did our last intro video. I love his work. We spent the morning conferencing because we need a new one. It’s just great to work with amazing talent.

Q: The last time we spoke was in 2002, when Berlin was about to play a NASCAR event in Fontana. You were preparing to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the first time.A: I was terrible. Awful. It was bad. I thought I’d try to change it up a little bit, because people have heard that song for a million years. They did not like my change up at all. They didn’t out and out boo, but there no love for it [laughs].

Q: Now that John Crawford and David Diamond have rejoined Berlin, I was wondering: Was VH1's reality series “Bands Reunited” the initial catalyst for the three of you rekindling your musical relationship?
A: Yeah. That really brought John and me back together, honestly. That was not staged. I had not seen him for seven years.

Q: You’d been touring and recording with your own version of Berlin for more than a decade before John and David came back into the fold. How did their return play out?
A: John was in a marriage where he got very religious for a time. Making music was looked down upon. It was a much more restrictive time for him. He’d been so out of it for so long. He was really nervous about coming in, but he’s so brilliant that it didn’t take long. We knew it wouldn’t. And it didn’t.

So he started playing with us. Then we started writing together again. It took awhile, actually. It took about a year of trying stuff. People were excited about a couple things, but not enough. We tried all kinds of things. Then we landed on working with this team from Australia to produce and co-write some of the songs with us. People were really excited about what they were hearing. That’s what created “Transcendance,” the new album.

Q: Many acts that came to prominence in the 1980s are content to coast on their old material. Is it vital for you as an artist to have something new to say?
A: Yeah, it is. Why say the same thing for the rest of your life? [laughs] I understand. I totally get it when people come to our shows, they want to hear the songs they know. I’m the same way. They also like a few fresh sounds too. It’s a combination. You don’t want to go too far one way or the other. You don’t want to be too stale or too new.

I get pretty really pissed off [when I go to a show and that happens]. There was one show - and I don’t think he’s done it since - I’m a big Trent Reznor fan. I went to a [NIN] show and all the songs that I love, he didn’t do any of them. He just did basically his new album and I was like, ‘fuck you, dude. I like your new album, I listened to it a couple times. But come on, we’ve got a history together. You worked this hard to create a body of work that people love and you’ve achieved it. So please celebrate this with us. Don’t throw it away!’

Q: For “Show Me Tonight,” you got SiriusXM/1st Wave DJ Richard Blade, formerly of KROQ/106.7 FM Los Angeles to add infomercial announcer bits.
A: I’ve known Richard for 40 years now. Of course I knew he could do it. And he would. I called him and said, ‘Dude, we’ve never been on an album together. Would you do this part with us? I think you would kill it.’ He did, man! He took what I wrote and just went further [laughs].

Q: Is that particular song, about female body image, a good example of one of your newer songs that have a message?
A: I don’t know if it has a definitive answer in the song, but it’s about coming to accept the changes that my body’s going through. That I’m dealing with. It’s not easy. Then there’s new stuff that comes up and I’m like, ‘what the fuck is that?’ Then having to deal with that and getting to a place of ‘yeah, this is me.’ The other day I was talking to my girlfriend. She’s my age. I said, ‘This fucking tummy, man. I’m tired of this tummy shit.’ She said, “I got it too. So what? Quit being so egoed out that all you think about is your fucking tummy. There’s more to life.' So these are things I’m dealing with.

Q: What have your fans thought about the remixed version of “Sex (I’m a)” on the latest album?
A: They love hearing it live. They just love that song because I get to sing it with the man that I wrote it with. That’s wonderful for me and he’s of course amazing at it. That’s a big highlight of the [live] show.

Q: You’d originally wanted to include a new version of the song on your last album "Animal," but had to hold off, right?
A: Yeah, the label didn’t want it. They wanted all new songs and didn’t want me to hark back to anything. I understand that. That’s a choice. We went with it, but it was actually Richard Blade who was playing that remix. I gave it to him to listen to and get his opinion. He thought it was great and kept saying, ‘Dude, you got to release that. Put it out by itself. Do something with it. Don’t let that one go away. That’s a good one.’ When this album came up, this label was fine with it.

Q: Back in the ‘80s, Berlin released several memorable music videos. At the time, do you think your prior acting experience was a big help in making them?
A: Yeah, it helped me to focus my emotions in a set amount of time. That’s the best way to describe it. That’s really a good discipline to have in music, because songs are three to four minutes. The most important thing is to focus my honest emotion that I either wrote myself in the song or someone else wrote and I’m relating to in my life into that three minutes because a song is just a communication. That’s all it is. It’s an honest feeling that I need to be on top of, that I need to share right then when the song’s happening to make it effective. To make it translate.

That’s what acting taught me, because even though people think acting’s not real, what I learned doing that craft is that I had to tie in something honest that I related to in the scene that I was doing with a real life experience in my life. It’s not pretend. It’s ‘this is how I feel in this situation right now.’ It’s real. Music and songs are the same way. They’re a different craft but the feeling is the same. The honest emotion has to be there.

Q: If you need to make a new music video these days, do you mind going through the process?
A: It depends. If I can get out of my own head. I’m not a model. Part of my job is to do photo shoots and it’s not really my thing. I don’t really feel that comfortable with it. So it’s a constant challenge for me. I can do it well enough to get the job done. I like making music, but the other stuff: the videos and photo shoots, are more challenging for me.

Q: When the band released its first single and EP, KROQ was a big supporter. Did that early airplay help you get exposure on a national level?
A: They were the only supporters in the beginning. Without them, I don’t know if Berlin would’ve had a shot. They were so powerful that their format got taken over across the country. It did so well here, that everybody wanted it. If they hadn’t been here, we [still] might’ve done something because slowly, other stations around the country started playing us. But it was such an explosion for Berlin when KROQ started playing us that it was hard for the rest of the country to deny. They were at least listening to us and asking, ‘what’s Berlin?’

We had a shot because of KROQ, but before KROQ, there was only KLOS and corporate rock, arena rock. KMET was mostly hard rock. It was very unlikely either one of those stations would touch us. We got lucky twice. KROQ started playing us and MTV started in 1982 right when we got our first video going. Thank God for them. That gave us exposure we’d never had before. We were lucky with the timing with all of these outlets because our music was weird. Nobody was really doing electronic music yet. It was all coming from overseas, which was why we were trying it. It was hard. That was really fortunate.

Q: What was it like back then playing the second US Festival's “Rock Day” in May 1983, alongside David Bowie, the Pretenders, U2, Stevie Nicks, Joe Walsh, Los Lobos and others at Glen Helen Regional Park in Devore early in your career?
A: To this day, it was one of the best days of my life. Oh my God! That lineup? Holy shit! Incredible. And in one day! It was the entire weekend, but that was just our day. It was an absolute dream. And then the people - 250,000 people in this empty [field], it was nothing then. Just space.

Q: Is it inspiring to see so many bands that you shared a stage with back in the day still continuing to tour and make new music in 2020?
A: Yeah, because I have such admiration for them. Many of them I look up to, like the tour we just did with the B-52s. I think they’re brilliant musicians. They have a sense of humor that is so incredibly amazing. They don’t take themselves too seriously. Their music is so well written.

We are opening for Blondie in Dallas in May and looking at [Debbie, who’s 74] - fuck man. I feel old in the business, but look at her! She’s just going and going. Amazing. We’ve done a few shows together and every time, she’s a great person. She loves what she does. She said to me, ‘Terri, what else am I gonna do?’ [laughs]

[Blondie guitarist] Chris Stein is so supportive and hugs me as I get offstage. C’mon! It’s so wonderful to have these people to look up to. To see that you can still rock it and bring this joy to people. It’s a gift.

Q: Do you think Berlin will follow their lead and continue for another 10 years or more?
A: We’ll see. I have no idea. We don’t even know what’s going to happen in five years or even a year. But they make it possible for me to even consider something like that.

Q: I read that John had a bunch of extra songs leftover from were making the latest album. Can fans expect more new material sooner than later?
A: He’s a machine. He had 30 songs after we started working on the 12 we were recording. He kept bringing them in and I said, ‘John, we gotta focus. No more songs. We gotta get this album out.’ He said, ‘I just wrote this last night!’ I’m like, ‘Oh fuck!’ [laughs].

Q: You can always put them out as EPs.
A: True.

Q: Did you finish the Christmas album that I read has been gestating for awhile?
A: There’s a Berlin orchestral album that we recorded at the beginning of last year. The label wanted [the studio album first]. It’s coming out in May. We’re in the mixing process now. I can’t wait [for people to hear it].

For tour dates, see or Berlin - Official Band on Facebook.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Electronic artists tour news: New Order, Pet Shop Boys, Kraftwerk

Now this is a tour I'd really like to see!

New Order and Pet Shop Boys have confirmed a co-headlining tour of North America. The two British electronic bands have announced The Unity Tour kicks off in September. Both bands will play a full set with the headliner alternating each night. Full list of dates below. Tickets go on sale to the general public starting Friday, February 28 at 10am local time at

Pet Shop Boys recently released their 14th studio album Hotspot via x2 Records/Kobalt to critical acclaim. It reached #3 in the UK, German and Spanish albums chart and #1 on Billboard’s Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart, making it the fourth Pet Shop Boys album to accomplish this. Hotspot is the third in a series of albums produced by Stuart Price (following 2016’s Super and 2013’s Electric.) Watch the video for “Monkey business” here.


September 5 – Toronto, ON – Budweiser Stage
September 9 – Boston, MA – Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion
September 11 – Philadelphia, PA – TD Pavilion at The Mann
September 12 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
September 15 – Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion
September 18 – Chicago, IL – Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island
September 20 – Minneapolis, MN – Armory
September 24 – Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena
September 26 – George, WA – Gorge Amphitheatre
September 30 – San Francisco, CA – Chase Center
October 2 – Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Bowl

I'm sure this tour will be fascinating too. The group sure was when I caught it at Coachella Fest several years ago.

After some successful 3-D concert tours worldwide, Electro pioneers Kraftwerk announce North American tour dates for summer 2020. The shows will bring together music, 3-D visuals and performance art.

The multi-media project Kraftwerk was started in 1970 by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. They set up their electronic Kling Klang Studio in Düsseldorf, Germany where they conceived and produced all Kraftwerk albums. By the mid-1970’s Kraftwerk had achieved international recognition for their revolutionary electronic‚ soundscapes and their musical experimentation with robotics and other technical innovations.

In their live performances, Kraftwerk–Ralf Hütter, Henning Schmitz, Fritz Hilpert, Falk Grieffenhagen–illustrate their belief in the respective contributions of both man and machine. Starting with the retrospective of their catalogue at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2012, in recent years Kraftwerk have returned full circle back to their origins within the Düsseldorf art scene of the late Sixties.

The 3-D concert series at MoMA was followed by further presentations at Tate Modern Turbine Hall (London), Akasaka Blitz (Tokyo) Opera House (Sydney), Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles), Fondation Louis Vuitton (Paris), Neue National Galerie (Berlin) and Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao). In 2014 Ralf Hütter and his former partner were honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tickets go on sale to the public this Thursday, February 27 at 10am local time. American Express Card Members can purchase tickets in select markets before the general public beginning Tuesday, February 25 at 10 a.m. local time through Thursday, February 27 at 9 a.m. local time.

North America tour dates:

Seattle, WA 
Moore Theatre

Vancouver, BC
Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Portland, OR
Keller Auditorium

San Francisco, CA
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium

Los Angeles, CA
Shrine Auditorium

San Diego, CA
Balboa Theatre

Salt Lake City, UT
The Union

Morrison, CO
Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Austin, TX
ACL Live at The Moody Theater

Dallas, TX
Bomb Factory

New Orleans, LA
Orpheum Theater

Miami, FL
James L. Knight Center

Orlando, FL
Dr. Phillips Center

Atlanta, GA
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre

Washington, DC
The Anthem

New York, NY
Radio City Music Hall

Columbus, OH
Palace Theatre

Chicago, IL
Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom

Minneapolis, MN
The Armory

Nashville, TN
Ryman Auditorium

Memphis, TN
Crosstown Theater

Saint Louis, MO
The Pageant

Detroit, MI
Masonic Temple Theatre

Toronto, ON
Meridian Hall

Philadelphia, PA
The Met

Boston, MA
Boch Center Wang Theatre

Montréal, QC
Osheaga Music and Arts Festival

An interview with Terri Nunn of Berlin

photo: Louis Rodiger/courtesy Mint Artist Management
When Terri Nunn reunited with John Crawford and David Diamond from the classic lineup of Berlin a few years ago, she discovered that collaboration was easier the second time around.

“I think people really do get better. It’s so much more enjoyable to work” together now, Nunn affirmed, during a phone interview.

“We don’t have the same fears and egos, a need to prove ourselves and fight for everything. A lot of that energy is good when you’re 20, but it’s also really stressful. [For me], getting older is cool. I’m relaxed and still excited about the music.”

Last summer, Berlin released “Transcendance,” the three musicians’ first studio album together in 35 years. The positive reception has surpassed expectations.

Before our chat, the singer was preparing for multiple Southern California concerts by conferring with Devo’s Jerry Casale about a new intro video for the sextet.

Founding bassist/vocalist/songwriter Crawford started Berlin in Orange County during the late 1970s, having been drawn to Kraftwerk and Ultravox. Nunn, an actress who appeared in television shows (“Barnaby Jones,” “Lou Grant,” “Trapper John M.D,” “T.J. Hooker”) and film (“Thank God It’s Friday”), joined the new wave band, briefly left and returned for its first single release “The Metro” in ‘81.

The group went onto achieve a platinum and gold-selling album thanks to other memorable era hits like “No More Words,” “Sex (I’m a),” “Masquerade” and “Take My Breath Away.” The latter, a pop chart-topping love theme from “Top Gun,” won an Oscar and Golden Globe for producer/composer Giorgio Moroder. Then Berlin broke up in 1987 at the height of success. 

Nunn went solo and rejiggered Berlin with new members by the late ‘90s. A catalyst for the core trio’s reintroduction was VH1 reality series “Bands Reunited” in 2004. The original members went their separate ways afterward, but some casually stayed in touch. A little over a decade later, Crawford called Nunn to vent about his divorce and Diamond’s long relationship ended. Suddenly, the time seemed right for a new beginning.

Assimilating into the existing Berlin lineup was a gradual process.

“At first, David started playing with us for fun,” Nunn said. “John came to a few shows and loved it,” Nunn explained. “Then we coaxed him into coming in. Both [guys] were out of music for a long time.”

Songwriting commenced for about a year before they teamed with Aussie producers Andy and Thom Mak, who co-wrote half the material on the alluring “Transcendance.”

The brothers “really inspired John and me” by bringing different kinds of arrangements and “added so much” that the songs “really came alive.”

A sense of tranquility informs several tunes, including the ethereal title track and a pair dedicated to Nunn’s husband and daughter respectively. Other selections verge upon Erasure and Pet Shop Boys musical territory.

“People love it when I do ballads and a lot of the subject matter lent itself” to that type of sound.

Slinky dance-pop standout “Show Me Tonight” revolves around body issues, “always being inundated with ads and pictures and everybody telling me that I’m not good enough. I’ve fought it and it’s hard,” Nunn admitted. “I had this fantasy about a sleazy commercial announcer telling you all this BS” in a song. “Then I imagined getting madder and angrier as he kept talking.”

So Nunn asked SiriusXM 1st Wave DJ Richard Blade, a longtime friend and Berlin supporter during his time at KROQ and beyond, to fill the role.

“She sent me over the rough track and I thought ‘this is going to be a great song,’” said Blade, in a separate interview. “I’m sort of playing against type...It was fun. You’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself. To be part of one of her best albums ever is an honor and a thrill. I get emails almost every day” asking whether I am really the one on the song.

The latest album also includes an remixed version of “Sex (I’m a),” now with a fresh EDM-styled vibe. Nunn gave Blade an advance copy to get his opinion (the pair dated awhile when Berlin was on the rise; the explicit tune is based on their relationship). The DJ urged her to get a final version down that he could play on the radio.

“It’s so good and relevant to today’s music,” Blade enthused, describing the twist Berlin put on it as “unique and fresh.” Particularly when the band plays it live, “it really is a show stopper.”

Berlin performs at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 at The Canyon in Santa Clarita; 7 p.m. Feb. 29 at The Canyon in Agoura Hills; 7 p.m. March 20 at Ramona Mainstage in Ramona; 8 p.m. March 21 at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano; noon May 2, Cruel World Festival, The Grounds at Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson; 8 p.m. Aug. 28-29, with the B-52's at the Hollywood Bowl. 

My article originally appeared in the OC Register, Riverside Press Enterprise and other SCNG (SoCal News Group) newspapers in Southern California. 

For more info on Berlin, go to: or Berlin - Official Band on Facebook.