Albums / Pop

Album Reviews 21/11/18

Blonder, Knoxville House (Cool world Records)

At this writing, this debut record from Long Island native Constantine Anastasakis isn’t due out until February 2022, so there’s obviously an initiative to get the buzz going as quickly as possible before reviewers realize how much it sucks and tell people like you about it. I mean, Pitchfork Media will probably love it, as it conjures images of Pavement reborn as a half-synth-powered cyborg, and basically every song has a woozy, discombobulated feel to it, everything wandering in and out of pitch like a vinyl album that was left on top of a radiator for a few hours. Think of it this way: Brian Eno and Manchester Orchestra reinterpreted by the dumbest college student you’ve ever known, mixed into a hybrid no one would have ever asked for, except the melodies aren’t all that bad. Better than Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. accomplished, which is simultaneously the closest stuff to this, and yes, the faintest possible praise I can muster at the moment. D

Salt Ashes, Killing My Mind (Radikal Records)

The stage name of Brighton, U.K., singer Veiga Sanchez, Salt Ashes is diva pop with a good amount of retro house, tunes that are form-fitted for velvet rope clubs but could also work as soundtrack for a beachside Tilt-A-Whirl. “Love, Love,” the touchstone single, is pure Mariah Carey meets Janet Jackson, which is about where her voice fits. Unsurprisingly, she digs ’80s floor-filler stuff, checking off Giorgio Moroder, The Knife and Fleetwood Mac as influences; she’s been a dance-music player since her 2016 self-titled debut album, which was produced by the late Daniel Fridholm (a.k.a. Cruelty). Her lyrics deal with a laundry list of things that aren’t wildly unique to today’s young women: unrequited love, sex, anxiety, relationships, mental health, sexual harassment and such. The LP kicks off with a foggy, steam-driven, goth-infused electro-dance joint, “Lucy,” which is more Kylie Minogue than anything else. “Mad Girl” is ’80s as heck, down to the busy organic synths; “I’m Not Scared To Die’ covers the obligato ballad entry with aplomb enough. B


• Nov. 19 is here, and with it some new rock ’n’ roll albums. Some will be good and some will be bad, depending on one’s individual tastes or lack thereof. I’m looking at a rather large list of new albums, and I’m sure there will be something that won’t make me power-guzzle a six-pack of Pepto Bismol, but you never know. We can be nice and casual this week, because there is a plethora of albums to choose from, starting with Phantom Island, from a band called Smile, a project from Björn Yttling (Peter Bjorn and John) and Joakim Åhlund of the Teddybears. I think this will probably be safe for me to check out, because the Teddybears are awesome, so I’ll take my chances on the latest single at this writing, “Call My Name.” This song features vocals from mononymed Swedish singer-songwriter Robyn, who isn’t a very good singer, but the tune is a low-key, piquant, very pleasant blend of ABBA and Miss Kittin, very 1970s-radio if you can get past Robyn’s not-very-great voice. There’s a snowy, upbeat feel to it, which is just what the doctor ordered if you need something smooth and cocoa-y to wrap your ears around as we descend into the frozen North Pole of yet another New England winter.

• Well, that wasn’t so bad, was it. Hmm, dum de dum, why don’t we — wait, hold everything, here we go, a new album from Elbow, called Flying Dream 1, why didn’t someone tell me about this before? Elbow is one of the few indie bands in the world that still tinkles my jingle bells; they are from Bury in Greater Manchester, England. If past is prologue here, this will probably be awesome; their previous stuff has been like a cross between We Were Promised Jetpacks and VNV Nation, and — wait, I did a fly-by, didn’t I; you haven’t the foggiest idea what that even means. Unfortunately I do, so I’ll try to translate. Picture a stuffy literature professor starting a mildly aggressive rock band but never doing anything really punky, sort of like a British version of Bruce Springsteen except the singer doesn’t suck and it’s mostly mellow-ish, and the tunes are really catchy and cool. That’s Elbow, at least up until this moment, when I’m about to find out if their single “Six Words” is any good. OK, it is, it’s a mellow, almost Coldplay-ish tune comprising a synth arpeggio but without being annoying like Coldplay. It’s awesome, mildly mawkish but ultimately upbeat and very pretty. I so totally love these guys.

• Not bad, I haven’t even thought about uncorking the Pepto Bismol during this exercise at all! I’ll tell you, gang, this may be my lucky — oh no, it can’t be. Do you hear those booming tyrannosaurus footsteps, coming for me, to ruin my day? Yes, look, it’s the hilariously overrated Sting, smashing buildings as he strides toward me, holding out some awful new album! The LP is called The Bridge, and it has a single, called “Rushing Water.” Oh jeez, oh jeez, this sounds like like every boring elevator-music song this egomaniacal Matrix-clown has ever foisted onto listeners of dentist-office-rock, basically a souped-up version of “Every Breath You Take” except with some rap-speed lyrics. Don’t worry, you’ll probably only hear this once, either on Jimmy Kimmel or The Today Show; it’s definitely not interesting enough to warrant anything more “hip” than that.

• We’ll wrap up this week’s business with 30, the new album from Adele, whose hobbies include publicly sucking up to Beyonce and being this decade’s Celine Dion. “Easy On Me” is a depressing but powerful pop ballad as always, and she does some high-pitched professional singing. As if you couldn’t guess, it is a song that will be loved by 20-somethings who don’t trust their boyfriends, and with good reason.

If you’re in a local band, now’s a great time to let me know about your EP, your single, whatever’s on your mind. Let me know how you’re holding yourself together without being able to play shows or jam with your homies. Send a recipe for keema matar. Message me on Twitter (@esaeger) or Facebook (eric.saeger.9).

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