Album Reviews 24/04/04

Altin Sencalar, Discover The Present (Posi-Tone Records)

This jazz leader and his long-time co-trombonist Chris Glassman have been hailed by such major zines as Stereophile, who said they sound like “21st century grandchildren of JJ Johnson and Kai Winding.” That’ll mean very little to folks who aren’t big in trombone-jazz, of course, aside from the obvious, they’ve got a nice setup going on here. There are Latin and Vegas edges to this stuff, most eminently in a cover of Four Tops’ 1970s radio-hit “Ain’t No Woman Like the One I’ve Got,” which is jaw-droppingly clean on the production end. The proverbial fourth wall has been all but obliterated in the Big Tech era; any search for Sencalar brings up his LinkedIn page first and foremost, which kind of struck me funny; it enumerates all the colleges where he’s taught, including some in Japan. That left me with the impression I’d be hearing rote academic renditions of this stuff aimed at a particular niche, but the exuberance is really inspiring throughout. A+ —Eric W. Saeger

The Legless Crabs, “Golden Bachelor” / “Get Down” (Metal Postcard Records)

Meanwhile, somewhere on Alpha Centauri, there are bands that, like Pepperidge Farm, remember. In the case of this band, what’s remembered is the Butthole Surfers, a band I’d bet 99 percent of you folks have heard of but only 0.01 percent have actually listened to. Now, Metal Postcard seems to be something of a prank record label, given that they charge random prices for their records, like, one was $22,890, and you can purchase this band’s entire discography for $264.67 (or just the two-sided single for $2). Boy, that’s some nerve, but these guys are such full-of-baloney popinjays (sample press quote: “If the Legless Crabs had released music in the ’60s they would have been rediscovered in the ’80s and fawned over”) that I can’t think of anything bad to say about them. But yes, these tunes do sound like the Surfers: slow, messy, distorted beats and bullhorned vocals, do you need anything else? Of course you don’t. A+ —Eric W. Saeger

PLAYLIST

A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Friday is April 5, and it will mark another Friday of albums for your listening displeasure and whatnot! You know what band we haven’t talked about in a long time is Vampire Weekend, remember them, you guys? They were like a cross between Ben Folds and Paul Simon, doing yacht rock for flat-broke millennials who lived with their parents. How did they ever get so big? No, I’m asking you, how did that band ever happen? OK, fine, the polyrhythms were borderline interesting, if you’re new to this planet and had never heard people playing, you know, drums before, or something? Lyrically, they’re sort of edgy, offering “a dynamic blend between the secular and the religious,” which means zip if you don’t care about lyrics, but you know what else, Barack Obama sought their support for his 2012 re-election campaign, and since they believed that politicians actually had a say in what happens in this country, they gladly accepted. But anyway, they had legitimacy during that mercifully short Aughts era when everyone hated music and was getting their revenge by listening to this band and so many others, so what have they gone and done but recorded a new album! This one, which only came out a few hours ago, is titled Only God Was Above Us.

• For some reason — probably because I don’t really care about either of them all that much — I’m always confusing the Black Lips with The Black Keys, whose new album, Ohio Players, is on the way! No, kidding, I do like how the Lips behave like demented punk rockers, and they can be sort of cool, don’t get me wrong. The Keys, though, I thought that was just a summer thing with the skinny jeans crowd, but it did last, Gawd bless ’em, so, on the occasion of this new album, it’s time once again to try to tell them from Arctic Monkeys or Strokes or whatnot (I never could, Gawd bless ya if you can). Lol, the Black Keys subreddit has some bad reviews of this thing, never mind the stupid kiss-butt bot that pops in to say “Myeahhh, I hope this means they’ll be spending time in Ohio!” Good grief, get me out of this subreddit, why am I even doing this, let’s go listen to one of the new songs, “I Forgot To Be Your Lover.” Ack, they’re trying to be Sam Cooke, or maybe — wait, I get it now — the Ohio Players in ballad mode! Boy, I’ll tell you, I have no use for this at all, but if you’re big into hookless tuneage, go for it.

• Wait, I thought Old 97’s were all done being mean to music, but if so, why am I seeing a new album called American Primitive being released by them this week? Wait, no, forget it, Rhett Miller is still their singer, I’d gotten confused because he was doing solo albums for a few years there and had kind of dumped them, not that I was keeping track. “Where The Road Goes” sounds like something Willie Nelson should be singing, not someone who isn’t 100 years old. It isn’t a very interesting song, is writing interesting songs even part of the typical game plan for bands nowadays? Discuss.

• We’ll end this remarkably uninteresting week of new albums with Phosphorescent’s new one, Revelator. Phosphorescent is the stage name of American indie singer-songwriter Matthew Houck, who is originally from Alabama but now lives in Athens, Georgia, so people will think he’s cool or whatever. The title track has mellow, strummy acoustic guitar, and there’s Spacemen 3 reverb on Houck’s voice, which is pretty much the only thing that’s keeping me from falling asleep while it’s playing. He sounds like a bad karaoke version of José González. What on Earth possesses people to support artists like this, seriously? —Eric W. Saeger

Album Reviews 24/03/28

Warlord, Free Spirit Soar (High Roller Records)

Ha ha, I owned a Warlord album once when I was a young heavy metal incel, but I only listened to it maybe three times because it wasn’t all that good, sort of like a cross between Anvil and, I don’t know, maybe Scorpions I guess. Singer Bill Tsamis died in 2021, but original drummer and co-founder Mark Zonder is here.

The promo sheet on this one claims that this U.S. band was an early epic-metal band. Funny it should say that, because album-opener “Behold a Pale Horse” is definitely epic-metal. It has caveman-ren-faire drums a la Corvus Corax, and the singer is really serious, singing about witch-kings and prophets or something. Yeah, no, this stuff has a Savatage bend to it. “Conquerors” is street-metal in the vein of Riot, except the dude’s singing about giant cyclops or something. A

Marc Valentine, Basement Sparks (Wicked Cool Records)

This guy, whom Vive Le Rock magazine anointed as “the new king of British power-pop,” qualifies for that “prize” I suppose, for what it’s worth. This is the follow-up full-length to his debut album from last year, and he comes storming out of the gate on this one, with the They Might Be Giants-like “Complicated Sometimes,” which breaks the emo mold a bit by using a Mister Roboto effect on his voice (you never hear that anymore, not that anyone cares). The overall vibe tenders a cross between Dashboard Confessional and a slightly cartoonish version of eastern European grog-punk bands like Korpiklaani, which means the listener is in for a fun ride (I never understood how people could take “power pop” bands seriously, so it’s refreshing to note that this guy takes a lot of his cues from 1970s glam bands). Speaking of Marc Bolan, the tune “Tyrranical Wrecks” is a ton of fun, with Valentine trying on-the-phone patch on for size. I hope this guy breaks big. A+

Playlist

• Uh-oh, Friday, March 29, is a big day, because it is the last CD release day of our Antarctican winter, meaning that spring is definitely here! Sheryl Crow’s new album, Evolution, is the first one we will laugh look at today; you all remember Crow from her multi-platinum-whatever soccer mom hits, but did you know that she contributed her singing talents to William Shatner’s 2011 joke album, Seeking Major Tom, covering the song “Seeking Major Tom” originally rendered on the K.I.A. album Adieu Shinjuku Zulu, did you even know that? Of course not, who would, but this new one is her 12th album and features the single “Digging in the Dirt,” featuring Peter Gabriel, whom we discussed in this award-winning column just a few weeks ago. He originally released the song (which won the Best Video Grammy) in his 1992 studio album Us. How will Sheryl Crow improve on this song? Will she even try to? Let me go to the YouTube and listen to it, so you don’t have to. OK, it’s basically the same thing except with Sheryl Crow singing all the lines, like, “This time you’ve gone too far” and all that stuff, and every once in a while Gabriel pops in like Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog in order to ensure that it’s as boring as the original. This is a very clever marketing strategy, I have to admit.

• Slovenly chamber-pop singer and Libertines hanger-on Ed Harcourt is back with a new album, called El Magnifico, please stay calm, there will be enough MP3s of this album for all of you to pirate at your favorite pirating website, and no, I have no idea where to find those, because I am an upstanding citizen; now, quiet, you guys, while I try to enjoy the new single, “Deathless,” from this new album. It opens with an indie-folk fractal with some dubstep drums underneath it for some reason, and then it turns into a not-really-bad tune that sounds like Imagine Dragons covering a Conor Oberst B-side. Things could be a lot worse, I suppose, even if the video is really boring, something about standing in a dangerous-looking field of cacti, not that there are any cacti in England, which is where Harcourt is from. And let’s keep moving.

• Brooklyn, N.Y.-based artist Kelly Moran’s music, according to Wikipedia, is a mixture of electronic, jazz, dream pop and black metal, and her record company is Warper Records, which tells me I’m not going to enjoy listening to her new album Moves In The Field at all, not that I’m going into this with a negative attitude or anything of the sort, and besides, she used to play bass for the no-wave punk band Cellular Chaos, so let’s give this LP the benefit of the doubt going in, that’d be great. OK, so the video for the single “Butterfly Phase” features a figure skater interpreting this excitable but sad piano-driven melody, and then it gets sadder and sadder, and all the YouTube commentators are saying they’re crying, and then I started crying myself because I couldn’t understand why a bunch of people were getting emotional over the song, which just sounds like a bummer-piano thing. Maybe they were crying because the figure skater wasn’t doing triple-salchows or pratfalling onto the ice, the latter of which is the only reason people watch figure skating in the first place. I mean, I’m openly sobbing right now.

• Lastly it’s alt-rock band Chastity Belt, from Walla Walla, Washington, and yes, that’s a real place. Live Laugh Love is the all-girl band’s new album, and the single is part folk-indie and part psychedelica. It is gentle and catchy enough; the main verse part is boring, the bridge is OK.

Album Reviews 24/03/21

The Church, Eros Zeta and the Perfumed Guitars (Communicating Vessels)

Some things never change, especially when they really should, but different strokes and all that. I’ve never been big into this ’80s-born band, even if The Cure’s Robert Smith stole the dreary, depressing vibe for “Lovesong” from this band’s 1988 tune “Under The Milky Way.” These Aussies have always been a sort of middling punk-influenced rawk band, but despite that, they do try to innovate and otherwise keep things relatively lively. Their last LP, The Hypnogogue, was a concept thing aiming for epicness, which I thankfully don’t have to deal with here. “Pleasure” is pretty uneventful, the same flavor of Lost Boys soundtrack filler they’ve specialized in since the beginning: sparkly guitar, low-end-Bowie vocals, that sort of business. “Song 18” is confounding, a chill-down that nicks Bowie in spaceman mode (yes, there’s a discernible pattern here). They’ll be at Royale in Boston on June 21. A- —Eric W. Saeger

Sam Wilson, Wintertides (Communicating Vessels)

Professed to be a meditation on how landscape and environment inspire her tuneage through her love and empathy for natural places, this is a sparse, gentle release from the jazz guitarist, nestled into a trio setting touching on post-bop. This LP grew organically: In 2020 Wilson made the decision to move out to the rural community of Scotsburn, Nova Scotia. It was a change that would soon prove both trying and isolating as pandemic restrictions came into play — especially once she hit the province’s notoriously grueling winter season. Jen Yakamovich’s drums are smooth and sublime, delivered with a lot of brushed snare; Geordie Hart’s upright bass stretches out now and then for the sake of eerie acoustics. It’s all quite absorbing; the RIYL comparisons here would include Ralph Towner and Michael Hedges. A —Eric W. Saeger

Playlist

A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Like every Friday, March 22 will be a day of new album releases, because we love our routines, oh lovely, I get to rant about Tool this week! Yep, look at this, folks, Tool’s singer, Maynard James Keenan, is putting out a new live solo album on Friday, called Cinquanta: A 50th Birthday Celebration For Maynard James Keenan. Cinquanta means “fifty” in Italian. Why did he do that? Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s because he turned the big five-oh and there was a celebration concert for it, and plus he posts about tacos a lot on Instagram, no, I’m not kidding, guys. When I turned 50 I quit butts for my vape. I can’t even believe what butts cost now, like 10 dollars a pack, that’s insane. But you know what else is insane is Tool fans, like, if you don’t like that dumb band, their fans shun you like you kicked their dog or something. Talk about a hilariously overrated band, but even worse is Maynard’s other band, A Perfect Circle, which I’d heard was supposed to be one of those cool goth-industrial bands like Collide, but when I tried to listen to one of their albums I was like, “What’s the big deal here,” and never really tried again. I mean, if you like them, all I have to say is “I don’t care!” the same way Tommy Lee Jones did in The Fugitive when Harrison Ford told him he didn’t moider his wife. Get what I’m saying, see, I’ve never heard a Tool song I liked, but I haven’t listened to all their albums, just the ones that aren’t anywhere near as good as any random Pendulum album, so if you like Tool and didn’t moider anyone, we can still be good friends, just don’t try to get me to go to a Tool concert, see, because I won’t go, even if it’s free, which is about the right price for a Tool concert ticket if you ask me.

OK so anyway, back to Taco Man here, and his new live album, do I really have to do this? Yikes, the cover is Maynard wearing a diaper and yelling in a crib, may I go now? OMG this performance is from 2014, and there’s a live version of Tool’s “Sober.” Huh, I always thought that song was by Live. I never liked it, probably because I’m stupid, right, Tool fans?

• All this yelling about Tool, leaves me barely any room to talk about Tigers Blood, the new album from indie-folk fixtures Waxahatchee. If you can picture Alanis doing a cover of a Bonnie Raitt song you’re in the ballpark with the latest single, “Bored,” a strummy, upbeat, listenable tune that I don’t detest in the least.

• Randomly famous Colombian person Shakira has a lot of fans and isn’t as annoying as P!nk, and that’s all I’ve ever really cared to know about all this. Her new album, Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran, is on the way. It has an old-school ’80s technopop beat punctuated with her hiccuppy singing and a millennial whoop chorus. It’s catchy.

• Lastly, it’s the one I’ve been waiting for, the new album from British art-rockers Elbow, Audio Vertigo! The band is led by singer Guy Garvey, a working[-class dude who nowadays is also a radio personality on BBC 6. I first got into them in 2011, when they released the LP Build A Rocket Boys; I’ve lost track of them the last few years, so it was nice to hear their new single, “Balu,” with its Coldplay-informed ’80s-goth-ish vibe. The spidery bass line is super-neat. Big ups to this. —Eric W. Saeger

Album Reviews 24/03/14

Loreena McKennitt, The Road Back Home (Ume Records)

For most people, hearing the music of this platinum-selling ren-faire folkie evokes thoughts of witch conventions (by the by, we just went to one of those the other week at the Masonic Temple in Manchvegas, and Petunia was selling her witch stuff there); stinky, allergy-triggering incense and homemade “herbal tinctures,” whatever those are. To this day her big hit remains “The Mummer’s Dance,” a lively departure from most of her other fiddle-laden, Celtic Woman-inspired songs, which at least, praise Hepzibah, don’t have much tin whistle in them. This live album features a rendition of “On A Bright May Morning,” a concert-harp-buttressed exercise that’s depressing, lonely and inspirational at the same time, you know the routine. “Mummer” isn’t here, but the violinist gets a right smart workout on “Salvation Contradiction.” “Searching For Lambs” and its bummer cello lines are here too. A —Eric W. Saeger

Devon Thompson, “Poison Me” (Exquisite Feline Records)

Teaser single for an EP that’ll be out this spring from this Los Angeles-based singer, who’s been compared to PJ Harvey and Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano. What we’ve heard from her before has been pretty nice, starting with her 2023 debut single, “Soft Like Water,” whose plinky, vintage-themed guitars must have made plenty of Rasputina fans stand up (phlegmatically of course) and take notice. Then came “Napoleon,” which blended Sheryl Crow and both of the aforementioned ’90s-deconstruction princesses in a borderline cowgirl tune rooted in a Creedence Clearwater Revival vibe. With this new borderline-ballad song, she dabbles with a Siouxsie/Florence Welch sound but her tongue-in-cheek sensibilities lead to moments that make you think of B-52s singer Kate Pierson. She has a knack for sweeping epicness, and I think we’ll hear some remarkable stuff from her in future. But this song isn’t it, probably more a testing of the pop waters. A- —Eric W. Saeger

Playlist

A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Like Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs once sang, watch it now, watch it, watch it — here comes March 15, and it has new albums for you! Here it comes, here it comes, look at ’em all, all these new freakin’ albums, what’s a music journo supposed to do with ’em all, someone tell me! Ack, great, here we go, I suppose I’ll have to pretend I’m not mad at arena-blues hacks The Black Crowes, but that’ll be hard. You see, they’ve been very cheap about sending out review copies of their CDs to us CD reviewers, so we can review them in our CD review columns, and even worse, it’s a pain to get them just to let us stream them, like they guard their stupid songs as if they’re Queen Nefertiti’s priceless collection of bejeweled scarabs instead of a bunch of hackneyed songs that pretty much sound like a Jack White side project. You know, while I’m at it, there’s been a trend lately in which bands do all kinds of stupid things to get reviews, and those things often backfire. Like, if you want me to talk about your album, don’t send the whole thing in an email, that’s Rule No. 1. Every week I have to arrange my emailbox by email size and delete all the multi-megabyte emails from public relations people and whatnot who think I have limitless space on my server, it makes me so mad, guys. That’s not the worst, though. The worst is when I just want to review someone’s album and their PR person sends me a link to some obscure streaming service that wants me to register, which I basically never do, but when I do, the page is a horrible, idiotic mess and I have no idea what to click so I can listen to their music. Whatevs, the new album from whatstheirface is Happiness Bastards, and — wait a second, watch it now, watch it, the whole album is available on YouTube right now, so I guess I have to walk back everything I said. They’re not total cheapskates, let me go listen to one of the songs, “Wanting and Waiting.” It’s very stompy, bluesy, mid-tempo and exceptionally boring, same old stuff, a Baptist choir singing every once in a while and such and so. Let’s move along.

• False teen idol Justin Timberlake parlayed his love for being in a famous boy band into marrying Jessica Biel, sounds like a square deal to me. Of course, before he became a boy-bander he was in the actual, literal Mickey Mouse Club, where he met and started dating fellow Mouseketeer Britney Spears, you know, like normal people do. Oh, whatever, I don’t care about this stuff, and you shouldn’t either, so why don’t I mosey on over to the YouTube and check out JayTee’s new album, Everything I Thought It Was, oh let’s do. Ack, the new song, “Selfish,” is really mellow, with some old, vintage-sounding 808 drum loop holding down da beats for a makeout-sexytime song about something or other, and JT is doing the usual boy band thing, trying to sound like Usher and all that nonsense, may I go now?

• Ha ha, it’s indie-rock whatchamacallits Dandy Warhols, with a new album, Rockmaker! 2024 will see these wanton sellouts commemorating the 20th anniversary of Dig!, the documentary covering their bizarre relationship with acid-dropping loons The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Don’t you feel old now, do you still have your skinny jeans and your Pokemon backpack? The single, “Rockmaker,” has a neat 1950s sock-hop groove to it, but wait, that’s just the beginning, let’s see if it gets bad. Hm, the singer thinks he’s Iggy Pop now, that’s cool. The chorus is OK. It’s not completely worthless.

• Finally it’s Lenny Kravitz, also known as “the ex of ex-Mrs. Jason Momoa,” is this dude really still around? The new LP, Blue Electric Light, features the single “TK421.” It sounds like Living Colour trying to be Men Without Hats. How did this even happen? —Eric W. Saeger

Album Reviews 24/03/07

Andy Pratt, Trio (Thrift Girl Records)

For 20 years, this jazz bandleader has worked in the Chicago area as a guitarist, vocalist and composer, performing solo and with top local musicians in various configurations. One of his own tunes, “Happiness Is Home,” was a semi-finalist in the 2016 International Songwriting Competition, indicating he’s been around the block many times prior to this LP, in which he fulfills his desire to give his own spin to a variety of classic songs in a straight-ahead jazz setting. Five oldies from the Great American Songbook are here, including a laid-back take on “We Three (My Echo, My Shadow and Me),” which showcases Pratt’s even-tempered, rather pleasant baritone thrumming above barely-plugged guitar lines and a brushed-snare beat, your basic cocktail-lounge ambiance in other words. None of this is hard to listen to, as you’d expect, although Perez Prado’s “Patricia” is something of a curveball instrumental mambo meant to give Pratt the chance to stretch out a bit. A —Eric W. Saeger

T.S.O.L., A-Side Graffiti (Kitten Robot Records)

Believe it or not, this iconic Huntington Beach/Long Beach, California, hardcore-punk band (the acronym stands for “True Sounds of Liberty”) is still around, nearly 50 years after releasing records on — oh forget it, I can’t even count how many record labels have indulged them — and dabbling with such genres as deathrock, art punk, horror punk and hard rock. All told, they’re quite a bit like The Damned, not that anyone reading this who’s well-versed in this band’s history isn’t well aware of it, but just to drive home the point, there’s a hard-rock version of “Sweet Transvestite” (from The Rocky Horror Picture Show) included in this set that’s good for a chuckle. There’s also a semi-serious version of “What a Wonderful World,” its lyrics rewritten to reflect the completely horrible times we live in today. Other than that it’s Vegas-hardcore business as usual, with under-3-minute songs here and there (“Low-Low-Low” is particularly cool). A —Eric W. Saeger

Playlist

A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

March 8 is a special day of new albums, just like every Friday, and you can’t stop it. Yes, March, my second least-favorite month after February, who’s got the remote, can we fast-forward to beach time, that’d be great. First up this week is a new album from The Libertines, also known as “the Loot Crate version of Kasabian” if you’re a meanie who says mean things. No, actually, they’re OK, don’t flip out, and plus, their frontperson Pete Doherty was dating Amy Winehouse, so at least one person took them seriously. OK OK, I’m trying to be nicer, stop yelling at this newspaper or everyone in the vape shop will wonder why you’re acting crazy, let’s calm down. I know that my words have consequences, so I’m trying to take it down a notch, because yesterday I saw the episode of Loudermilk where the singer whose album he dissed in Rolling Stone tells him to stay out of her life, even though he was trying to apologize for destroying her career. I don’t want to have that happen to me, so I will be nice to this new Babyshambles, um, whatever, Libertines album, which is titled All Quiet On The Eastern Esplanade. Wait a minute, folks, the first tune on this album, “Shivers,” is pretty decent indeed, sounding sort of like Elbow. There’s a fractal guitar thingamajig buoying the chorus in fine style, which is something I’d like to see more bands doing, not that they ever take my advice, and so overall I’m pretty impressed. Another tune, “Run Run Run,” is more along the lines of what we’re used to from these guys, sort of like Sex Pistols all sobered up and trying to get on the radio so the straights will listen to them. Not very eventful but it’s OK.

• Wow, thanks, you shouldn’t have, it’s dark-shoegaze pioneers Jesus and Mary Chain, with a new album, called Glasgow Eyes! What a career these fellas have had, racking up Top 40 singles and getting into a brawl with the cast of Riverdance (boy, I wouldn’t want to get kicked in the shins by a Riverdancer, you know?). This new album is only their second in 25 years, the first since 2017’s Damage and Joy, and its teaser single is “Jamcod,” which is purported to combine “dark electronica with some crunching guitars,” let me just go to the YouTube and see about that. Hm, I’m definitely hearing some “dark electronica,” if that’s what people are calling krautrock these days (I just can’t keep up with it all, fam!) and there’s gratuitous noise in there, per their usual recipe, then it goes into some other hard-rocking stuff, and so on and so forth. It’d be nice if the song actually went somewhere and ended up accomplishing something, but these guys hate each other, don’t they? Oops, never mind, the guitarist who used to get in fights with one of the brothers isn’t there anymore. I wonder why.

• Ack, look out, New Hampshire, Judas Priest has a new album coming out Friday! One thing I learned right away when I moved up here from Mass was that you people love the Preeeeest, like, if the New Hampshire state song isn’t “Breakin’ The Law,” I just don’t know! OK, OK, I know, shut up and tell us about this new album, Invincible Shield, here I go, wearing my weatherbeaten reporter’s hat! One song is called “Panic Attack,” in which the synth rips off the weird line from Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” and — wait, don’t get mad, Granite Staters, the rest of it is fine, some butt-kickin’ power metal, my butt is totally kicked, and such!

• And finally, it’s famous nepo-baby Norah Jones, with her newest full-length, Visions! “Running” is the single, a laid-back urban-asphalt jam with Echosmith-esque vocal harmonies. As always, it’s cool, darn it all. —Eric W. Saeger

Album Reviews 24/02/29

Fire Sale, Albatross ()

Some call it “melodic punk;” I call it neo-emo (or usually just “emo” for short, most of the time), but either way it sounds more or less like Sum 41, Sugarcult and nine billion other bands, including this pop-punk supergroup, which brings together Matt Riddle (No Use For A Name), Chris Swinney (The Ataris), Pedro Aida (Ann Beretta), Matt Morris and perennial second-banana guitarist Brad Edwards. Their M.O. is releasing random singles, like this two-songer, so let’s get this out of the way, shall we. The title track starts out with a dextrous bass, then moves into a multi-voiced holler-along line of the type you’d associate with more roots-punk, which is a good sign, and then lead singer Aida eases his way in, sounding quite a bit like the dude from Living Colour actually (the tune is fast, by the way, in case you’re new to our planet). The other tune, “I Remember Damage,” has an OG emo sound to it that makes it workable. Decent stuff overall. A —Eric W. Saeger

Riot V, Mean Streets (self-released)

Ack, I had no idea these guys were still around. Actually “they” aren’t “still” around; after the death of chief-cook-and-bottle-washer guitarist/bandleader Mark Reale in 2012, various transitory members of this 1975-born heavy metal band (which used to be called Riot, which of course tells us that the “V” has been added owing to legal monkeyshines) got together and decided to make a little hay out of Reale’s legacy, and here we are. In their day, Riot wasn’t a dumb unintentional-joke band like Anvil; their tunes were hard enough, bespeaking the New York City streets from whence they came, and this stuff is actually pretty good. The ridiculously titled “Hail to the Warriors” launches this full-length in surprisingly nice style, evoking King Diamond singing over latter-day Slayer dipped in power-metal sauce. “Love Beyond the Grave” is even more Savatage-ish, but with more epic-metal vocalizing and stuff like that. These fellers did a pretty freaking good job with this. A —Eric W. Saeger

Playlist

A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Yee-hah, I can’t wait, the next all-in CD release day is tomorrow, March 1! As you know, nothing pleasant ever happens in March, and as for me, I completely hate it. The weather is just a hung-over February vibe; Mother Nature is like, “Oh, I don’t know, maybe it’ll be warm-ish for an hour, or — wait, a couple of minus-10-degree days would be interesting, wouldn’t they?” There’s March Madness too, of course, which used to result in Sports Illustrated’s publishing a “Special March Madness Issue” that no one ever read and was traditionally the only thing available to read at any dentist’s office, but the good news is that “SI” seems to be just about to go belly-up, so, ipso facto, there’ll be no more March Madness issues, good riddance. Anyway, we’ve got a lot of musical comedy in the works for this week, including a new solo album from Iron Maiden Bruce Dickinson, titled The Mandrake Project! I totally know what you’re thinking, the same thing as I am, something about those little green mandrake plant monsters from Harry Potter, but guess what, fam, it’s not! It’s about something else, something more convoluted and whatnot, something that will be “revealed in time.” I did watch Dickinson’s “What is The Mandrake Project?” video on YouTube, in hopes of finding out, but guess what, it was a rickroll, a giant waste of 63 seconds of my life, because he didn’t answer the question at all, not that I expected him to make any sense. So guess what happens now? Yes, that’s right, it falls on me to go back to YouTube and listen to one of the songs, specifically “Afterglow of Ragnarok,” can you even believe that title, guys? I’m rolling on the floor laughing right now, you know which emoji I’m talking about, but nevertheless, let’s go listen to this silly new nursery rhyme from Mr. D&D Character. Let’s see, it’s obviously inspired by Crowbar, very doomy except for some boring Fates Warning parts. Somewhere, someone in the world will be massively impressed by this. I am not that person.

• Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m a big longtime fan of industrial metal band Ministry and its anarchic frontman, Al Jourgensen, whose nicknames include “The Alien” and “Buck Satan.” Last I heard from the band, there was a kerfuffle going on, because Al wrote a song about antifa, which instantly got him embroiled in all the culture war nonsense that has turned this country into nothing more manageable than a Wacky Racers cartoon. It’s hard to believe that Al’s Slayer-like tune didn’t solve all our problems in 10 seconds flat, but it didn’t, even though he’d come out of “retirement” (which to him means sitting around in his scorpion-infested Texas compound, writing and recording heavy metal songs that all eventually wind up on albums made during periods of “un-retirement,” which usually occur once a year) in order to release it. The new album, HOPIUMFORTHEMASSES, is out tomorrow, spearheaded by teaser single “Just Stop Oil,” a surprisingly clean-sounding speed-metal joint with surfer guitar in it. As always, it’s essential listening, and I think Jello Biafra talks in it.

• Oh stop it, it’s sports-bar-rock phonies Kaiser Chiefs, from England, hawking their eighth album, cleverly titled Kaiser Chiefs’ Easy Eighth Album! The leadoff tune, “Burning In Flames” isn’t rockin’ at all, just some sort of Weeknd-infused lounge-pop. Never understood the appeal of these guys.

• And finally it’s Portland, Oregon-based indie band, STRFKR, with a new LP called Parallel Realms! The opening tune, “Together Forever,” sounds like something MGMT threw in the trash can, unlikely as that sounds. —Eric W. Saeger

Album Reviews 24/02/22

The Writeful Heirs, The Writeful Heirs (self-released)

Big fan of the New Boston, N.H., area, which is where this boy/girl songwriting duo (they’re older, so “boy/girl” is a bit inaccurate, but whatevs) is based. Their trip is undergirded by Americana, and the bio sheet rattles off a few other influences, namely psychedelica, classic rock, ’80s stuff and alt-rock, which I trust is all totally true, but either way, these two have obviously spent a lot of time rehashing and refining these songs. Former Club Iguana songwriter John Montalto handles the guitar and bass here, with newcomer Sunny Barretto, a hippie lady who handles lyrics and background singing. This business starts off with “Jupiter in July,” a Guster-ish thing that’d be more of a Peter Bradley Adams endeavor if it were a bit more mellow, not that it’d hurt a fly as is. Tons of layering enhances the smoothness of the sounds; Amos Lee would certainly be an accurate RIYL name-check for this very well-done record. A

James Brown, We Got to Change (Universal Music)

A little rock ’n’ blues archaeology for you here, kids, an unreleased single from the Godfather of Soul (or, of course, whatever else people like to call him these days, often epithets that aren’t really nice, in line with all the #MeToo business that’s surfaced in recent years). This is an old relic, recorded Aug. 16, 1970, at Criteria Studios in Miami, a pivotal period for Brown in that longtime members of his famed James Brown Orchestra had walked out a few months earlier. The replacement band, called The J.B.’s. (anchored by two young brothers from Cincinnati, Ohio, in the persons of guitarist Phelps “Catfish” Collins and bassist William “Bootsy” Collins), boasted a harder edge, as heard on such singles as “Get Up (I Feel Like Being) a Sex Machine,” “Super Bad,” “Soul Power,” and this tune, a typical foreboding, urban grumbler that starts with bongos, then adds some staccato guitar before Brown starts preaching in his signature fashion, which of course prompts the usual Vegas choir-and-brass pomp. Three versions appear here. A

Playlist

A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• OK, look alive everyone, the next all-in CD release day is Friday, Feb. 23, who’s got the remote, I want to fast-forward three months so we can get past all this ridiculous “too cold to go swimming but too warm to make popsicles just by putting a cup of fruit juice outside for 10 seconds” weather. Don’t you hate this? I do too, but I cannot plead insanity and refuse to do my duty by listening to bad albums today, there are just too many bad albums out there in my new-release list, all looking up at me like a laundry-load of kittens, begging me to put aside my deepest-possible hatred for this stupid month and just pay attention to their awful songs, aren’t they so cute? Yikes, I have to tell you, I thought I was going to get to hear and review a new album from Elbow today, but that one doesn’t come out until March, so we’ll begin this week’s exercise with some band called Hurray for the Riff Raff, whose new album, The Past Is Still Alive, is in my ruggedly handsome face right this second! The leadoff single, “Snake Plant,” sounds like a cross between Reba McEntire and Sinead O’Connor, and no, I have no explanation for that, but it isn’t completely horrible.

• A long time ago in a rock ’n’ roll galaxy far, far away, four glam-metal hacks from Los Angeles realized that the fastest way to become famous (despite having no talent for writing songs whatsoever) would be to combine room-temperature Danzig-style faux-punkishness with a few Kiss elements, like face makeup, random explosions, guitar riffs that any 6-year-old could play after one lesson, and — well, OK, everything else, except for catchy choruses, and lo, Mötley Crüe was born. The only thing the band was really good for was giving metal-radio DJs a break from playing Ratt, which was a win for them and in fact all humanity. After a time, no one liked hair metal anymore, which was Nirvana’s fault, so the Crüe’s drummer totally accidentally released the sexytime part of a video he was filming with his Ph.D. physicist wife, Pamela Anderson, a film that was originally intended as an instructional video on nautical navigation for sailors stranded at sea. And then, whatever, the singer left for a while after releasing a sexytime video of his own, and then he came back, to no one’s surprise. Cut to now, where da Crüe’s guitarist, Mick Mars, was all like “I’m sick of this place,” so he has also quit for the moment, and, until he realizes that he’s going to be broke unless he rejoins da Crüe, he will release solo albums, of which his brand new one, The Other Side Of Mars, is the first. See what he did there, with that album title, and the first single from this Loot Crate version of Ace Frehley is called “Loyal to the Lie.” Stop the presses, folks, it’s not a bad song at all if you liked Gravity Kills way back before Ben Franklin invented the VCR. I can deal with it, sure.

Nadine Shah is a British avant-pop singer who used to be friends with Amy Winehouse. Now that Shah is out of rehab, she is releasing albums, starting with this new one, Filthy Underneath. The single, “Twenty Things,” has a super-cool art-rock edge to it, and her vocals will appeal to Bowie fans for sure. It’s decent enough.

• Lastly we have Aughts-indie cool kids MGMT, whose new LP, Loss Of Life, features a tune called “Mother Nature.” It’s got a ’60s-pop slant to it, a la The Beatles, if you’ve ever heard of those guys. Actually, no, you know what, it sounds like Oasis quite a bit, up to the sad-happy chorus bit. Yes, that’s it, the tune wants to be “Wonderwall,” but, because it’s MGMT, it has to have a nicely shot but utterly pointless cartoon as its video, you know how this goes.

Album Reviews 24/02/15

Becky Hill, Believe Me Now? (Astralwerks Records)

As you know, I complain about a lot of things, but to be honest, Astralwerks Records has never sent me something I didn’t like. This zillion-seller British dance-pop queen isn’t a household name here in the States, although chances are good that you’ve heard her 2019 Meduza and Goodboys-guested single “Lose Control” someplace. Like a souped-up Kylie Minogue, she’s all about the sexytime stuff, tinkering with drum ‘n’ bass, anthemic house, techno and atmospheric trance. Liftoff single “Side Effects” features Lewis Thompson, not that there’s much he does to improve on the bouncy club-kitten beat purring underneath. I really like “Disconnect,” with its buzzy, woofer-zapping rinseout noodlings holding Hill’s early-Katy Perry-style voice aloft, and p.s., the absolutely stunning hook should come with a Surgeon General’s warning. “Never Be Alone” is the ballad, spotlighting the Lorde/Adele sort of timbre that puts her voice at the top of her class. If anything, this stuff is too perfect. A+

The Philosophers, Vartamana (self-released)

Here we have a France-based sextet whose deeply mellow style more or less evokes a Weather Report-informed Miami Sound Machine, in other words the ’70s jazz-pop vibe is strong in this one. Replace Chuck Mangione’s trumpet with a sax and you’d be in the ballpark, but it leans more toward Sade in its level of chillness. It’s the latest project from guitarist Mark Bullock, a British transplant who simply wanted to put together a group in which each musician’s abilities were at least mildly tested. The project is ambitious enough, the standout piece being Alain Szpiro’s sax, which tables some fine runs that sound as though they cost a lot more to record than they likely actually did. Bullock’s guitar keeps the tunes centered and balanced when he’s not noodling away with some lead passages; singer Emeline Gouban strives for a mixture of bedroom/lounge ambiance, which she accomplishes sublimely, fitting in well enough with the rest of it. A

Playlist

A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Friday, Feb. 16, is on the way, and new albums are coming with it, so let’s slog forward and get winter over with, shall we, folks? Actually, let’s slog back to the Aughts era, when indie rock was so awful that many albums came stamped with a Surgeon General’s warning that listening to their music would turn you into a toad, remember those days, fam, when college-rock taste was dictated by white Brooklyn scenesters, and it was all a big plot to legitimize Captain Beefheart or whatever the idea was? Ha ha, it was so awful, except for a brief part of the nu-rave scene, but other than that it was artists like El Perro del Mar, which is the stage name of Swedish singer Sarah Assbring, whose new album, Big Anonymous, is out this week! I literally hadn’t heard any of this person’s annoying music since around 2005, when I reviewed her self-titled debut LP in these very pages, so I’ve got quite a bit of catching up to do. Right, the last thing I heard from her was that album’s minor hit, “Here Comes That Feeling,” a mixture of French ’60s girl-group unlistenability and Assbring’s Betty Boop vocals. Listening to it now, I hope I trashed that stupid album from stem to stern most righteously, but chances are that I didn’t, given that back then I was a relatively new player in the whole “making fun of bad bands in city newspapers” game, so I probably praised it just so that people would like me. Given that I no longer care about people liking me (there will always be haters no matter what, so what’s the point), I shall now head over to the YouTube to see if Assbring still sucks as badly as she did 19 years ago. Oh come on, I’m listening to the new single, “Kiss of Death,” and it’s just a Sigur Ros-ified Lana Del Rey bringdown, slow and mildly shoegazey. The only good thing about it is that it’s musical in its way, I wish she’d just give up. The video is gross and disturbing too, something about someone committing a moidah, and there’s fake blood on the actress. This is what it’s all come down to, folks, mediocrity and fake blood, let me try to forget I paid any attention to this nonsense.

• Lolol, it’s Jennifer Lopez, with a new album, can you believe it, folks? Last I knew she was trying to lead a progressive house resurgence, or was that Britney, or was it all of them? Ha ha, who’s she re-married to now, Ben Affleck or that rotten egomaniacal baseball man, A-Rod? You know she’s just going to get re-divorced to whichever of those cheating alien clowns she’s with, like, there’ll be a spicy story in National Enquirer any minute now, even it’s just completely misconstrued nonsense, a few pix of Affleck paying some Domino’s driver for a pizza so he can “bulk up” in order to play the movie version of Broderick Crawford, get where I’m going with this? No? Well it doesn’t matter, the point is that I have to go listen to something off J-Lo’s new album, This Is Me … Now. Yup, the title track is trance-infused Ke$ha. Whatever.

• Uh-oh, it’s California-based indie-rock band Grandaddy. I never liked anything I heard from them nor understood why they had so many fans. This should be a load of fun, because I forget what they sound like. Their new album, Blu Wav, is on YouTube, yes, the whole thing, so that’s nice of them. I’m listening to the single, “Cabin In My Mind,” and, ah, there we go, nowww I remember, their trip is sort of like a Guster-tinged Spacemen 3. Yesss, that’s why hipsters liked them, because they’re tedious.

• We’ll wrap it up with Adult Contemporary, the new LP from Chromeo, an electro-funk duo from Montreal, Canada; I never liked these guys either. This’ll probably be ’90s garage-house, their new single, “Personal Effects.” Nope, it’s their same old milquetoast trash, Weeknd meets Kool and the Gang. Spoiler alert: I totally hate it.

Album Reviews 24/02/08

Ekkstacy, Ekkstacy (United Masters Records)

This Vancouver, British Columbia-based singer is a mildly odd bird, extracting inspiration from a wide range of dark 1980s bands and SoundCloud rappers like XXXTentacion. I figured this’d be an unapologetic gesture of obeisance to his more gothy influences after hearing the Jesus and Mary Chain-begging opener, “I Don’t Have One of Those,” which, as you’d guess, turns in a half-asleep, very ’80s shoegaze effort, its beat straight out of the Cure’s earliest days. But there’s a more quickened pulse to be found here: “Luv of My Life” reads like a kinder, gentler Buzzcocks, or, sure, Pink Flag-era Wire, meaning that any Gen-Xer who wasn’t one of the popular kids will be feeling comforted by all they’ve heard of the album thus far. The guitars are jangly and bright, and the from-the-mountaintop reverb setting is right where you’d want it to be, and then suddenly he’s innovating rather nicely, as found in things like the shoegaze-twee experiment “I Guess We Made It This Far.” Very listenable stuff overall. A —Eric W. Saeger

Wisp, “See You Soon” (Interscope Records)

The latest Residents-style mystery artist is this one, allegedly a 19-year-old woman about whom no one knows anything. There are big things planned for this person, obviously, being that Interscope is the record label pushing it, not to mention the fact that there’s a writeup in Nylon, meaning that the intended audience is older zoomers who go to hair stylists, which is pretty much the only kind of place you’ll ever see that magazine, aside from maybe Sam Goody’s. The angle that’s being pushed is that there exists somewhere an army of young artists who want to resurrect shoegaze, or at least get briefly famous on TikTok for throwing together a tune like this one-off single, which, like her previous ones, is being offered without any explanation, background or anything else. If you think the whole thing sounds a bit odd, it is, but the guitars on this song are, I’ll admit it, completely divine, sloshing over the listener like an island wave at dusk. That’s the clean guitar layer anyway; the rest of it could be Raveonettes for all most listeners would guess. But sure, carry on, mystery TikTok person. A- —Eric W. Saeger

Playlist

A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Tally ho, there will be new albums released this Friday, Feb. 9, because that’s how it’s done around here! Winter is sure setting in, with random snowstorms and “frost heaves,” I wonder who made up that phrase, an abominable snowman after drinking a few too many Jagermeisters? Bop! I’ll be here all week, folks, no need to worry, but let’s get to some music stuff, starting with Part Time Believer, the new album from alleged alt-country band The Strumbellas, who are from Ontario, Canada! I listened to one of their older tracks, “Holster,” and it’s a decent curveball, nice and bouncy, sort of like what Guster would sound like if they had a pulse, but the lyrics are dumb, which is OK! As for this new album, it starts out with “Running Out of Time,” which is part ’80s-synthpop and part Jackson Browne ’70s-radio-mawkishness; it’s nice overall. The singer does sound a lot like Jackson Browne, which is why I mentioned him, but it gets better with “My Home is You,” which is obviously influenced by Kings of Leon — wait, here comes the chorus, yes, yes, definitely a Kings of Leon obsession here. There’s even a variation of the Millennial Whoop in there to remind you that the guys in the band are getting old; this’ll probably come out pretty cool when they play it live. See that, I don’t hate everything, now let’s move along and get back to normal, I’m sure I’ll get triggered as we proceed.

• Oi there, Bob’s your uncle, Declan McKenna is an English chap who won the Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition in 2015, that after he self-released a tune called “Brazil,” which was a protest song critical of FIFA’s deciding to hold the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, which made for bad optics. FIFA is of course the international soccer federation, but don’t call it soccer or they won’t know what you’re talking about, you must refer to it as “football,” please nobody tell them that football is actually about the Super Bowl and funny commercials, not soccer, because this ongoing national troll has been funny for decades now. McKenna’s new LP is titled What Happened To The Beach, and the leadoff single from this one is “Nothing Works.” The beat sounds like a cross between The Beatles and Devo, all tempered by Weeknd-ish dance-electro. It’s mildly catchy and definitely disposable.

• I’m sure you were wondering who actually cleared a path for the emergence of Poppy, and here she is, Sacramento, California-based singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe! She blends a lot of harder-edged genres into her tunes, stuff like goth-rock, doom metal and noise, which makes her officially relevant. Her new album, Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She, features a couple songs of note, starting with “Dusk,” a slow-burn noise-athon in which Wolfe tenders a yodelly Alanis Morissette vocal over the sonic equivalent of a goth lava flow. As well, there’s “Whispers In The Echo Chamber,” which combines scratchy Trent Reznor S&M-goth and Lana Del Rey whisper-pop. I really have no problem with this stuff at all.

• Lastly, it’s Zara Larsson, a Beyoncé-influenced dance-pop singer who got her start in 2008, after winning the second season of Talang, the Swedish version of all that America’s Got Talent stuff; she’s famous for tweeting such tweets as “Man hating and feminism are two different things. I support both,” because she is a little rascal. Venus is her forthcoming new LP; famous music producer and overrated fraud David Guetta had a hand in the single “On My Love,” so it’s probably dumb, but I’ll go check it out if you insist. Yup, it sounds like Rihanna singing over a house beat from 2008. I remember those days and why the whole thing flopped. —Eric W. Saeger

Album Reviews 24/02/01

Diane Coll, Old Ghosts (self-released)

This Chicago-based singer-songwriter puts a decent-enough foot forward with this album, but the cascading verisimilitude of the songs and the lack of any experimentation left me feeling pretty uninterested. But as is the case with genres that I actually like, Coll’s strummy Americana is aimed a particular demographic and isn’t meant to rope in fans who’ve never heard Norah Jones before, which isn’t to imply that her bluegrass-tinged attempts at window-gazing acoustic chill sound all that modern. What I’m hearing is ’70s B-movie incidental music best suited for older hippies, which she obviously is, not that I have any call (or any other excuse, for that matter) to wax ageist. I’m probably her age in the first place, after all, but I did see one reviewer refer to her lyricism as “wisened,” an adjective that would fit here if the critic were being overly generous. I’d be more inclined to go with “wizened” owing to the archaic feel of the stuff. She does seem nice, though. C —Eric W. Saeger

India Gailey, Problematica (People Places Records)

Yikes, look at the calendar, it’s time for weird chicks with cellos, but this time we’re not talking about Rasputina, no sir. This Canadian-American gal’s trip is more in line with the self-indulgent explorations of certified wingnut Mabe Fratti, but in Gailey’s case — at least for this outing — there are no weird hippie dudes making faces and making incidental sounds. Instead we’re, ah, treated to a set of compositions that were written by other people on some sort of commission basis. The festivities begin with a tune written by one Sarah Rossy, an obscurity who’d probably be a big at sci-fi cons if she were encouraged to investigate such opportunities. The opening tune, “I Long,” showcases Gailey’s knack for noise as well as her often-captivating vocal talents, even if the first half of the song is pretty dissonant and indeed punctuated here and there with notes that sound, at least to ignorant peasants like yours truly, off-key. Nicole Lizée’s appropriately titled “Grotesquerie” is an exercise in funereal, unsettling noise if that floats your boat. B- —Eric W. Saegerr

Playlist

A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Friday, Feb. 2, will be an epic day of albums, with new albums coming out of nowhere, dropping from the sky, onto our heads, with loving messages of rock ’n’ roll, corporate hipdy-hop and death metal! Some of you are old enough to remember Dinosaur Jr, a band that was led by J Mascis. The band members were from Amherst, Mass., where they helped to invent the indie rock that’s tormented us for decades now. His new album is What Do We Do Now and its rollout single, “Can’t Believe We’re Here,” is a hard jangle-rock thing spotlighting Mascis’s usual post-punkabilly drawl, and it all works well enough. Why, there’s even some decent lead guitar parts in there, you might like it.

• In the competition to be this year’s 4 Non Blondes or Kate Havnevik or Lana Del Rey or whatever, look guys, it’s Vera Sola, a singer, songwriter and mildly edgy nepo baby whose dad, the famous, overrated “conehead” comedian Dan Akykroyd, probably had nothing to do with her getting a big record contract, there’s just no way, so don’t even start. Her first album, Shades, got a lot of press love in France (you know what that means), and she’s here with her second full-length, Peacemaker. The first single, “The Line,” is decent enough, basically a metal-tinged no-wave tune without metal guitars or no-wave honesty, but nevertheless it’s good overall; if you like Garbage or any bands like that, you might be into this for a week or so before you regret spending $16 on it.

• U.K. electro-pop songbird L Devine was born and raised in Whitley Bay, a coastal town near Newcastle upon Tyne in England, Europe. Supposedly, when she was 7 years old she loved the Clash and The Sex Pistols so much — regardless of the fact that neither band played electro-pop — that she started a band called the Safety Pins, which I totally believe, because everything you read in a public relations announcement is always 100 percent true and never intended to make an artist look 100 times cooler than they actually are. Anyway, this person will release an album on Friday, titled Digital Heartifacts, which is, I think, a clever title, although I’m sure it won’t sound like the Clash at all, more like an album of bubblegum trinkets for people who wear Hello Kitty backpacks all the time, but let’s just go see what this nonsense is, shall we, yes, let’s. Yup, it sounds like Lorde, but it’s got a little kick to it, have fun with this, whoever you are out there.

• And finally, it’s Kirin J. Callinan, an Australian art-pop nerd who sounds just like the dude from the ’80s band ABC, you remember them, right? No, no, not Boy George, I said ABC, the skinny tie band that did “When Smokey Sings,” back when Reagan was the emperor of our land and all the boomer hippies had taken to behaving like grown-ups so they wouldn’t get in trouble with Reagan’s anointed pope, Jerry Falwell, I suppose you had to be there. OK, subject change, Callinan’s new LP is titled If I Could Sing, which doesn’t bode for the title of an album on which someone is singing, don’t you think? But no, you don’t have to worry about that, because the new single, “Eternally Hateful,” does indeed evoke an ABC filler song, except that there are some glitchy samples in there. In the video he’s getting the business from some medieval executioners, which he thinks is funny; your mileage may vary.

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