Suite home

Concord show celebrates new jazz album

Scott Solsky has been a fixture in the Capital City since releasing his eponymous debut album in 2003. He’s taught music at Shaker River School for nearly two decades and played in multiple bands and as a solo performer. His upcoming indoor concert at Concord’s Bank of New Hampshire Stage marks the release of the second record with his name on the cover, Home.

After laying down the basic tracks at Dover’s Noise Floor studio, Solsky finished the all-instrumental, ambient jazz album in his house in Concord. This was primarily due to the pandemic, but the record’s title was chosen pre-Covid, indicative of the many area musicians who played with him on the disc.

In a recent phone interview, Solsky spoke of a “this is your life” aspect to Home.

“That’s intentional,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by really amazing musicians. At the end of the day, they made this album what it is.”

Those include the members of his original soul group Trade drummer George Laliotis, Chris Noyes on bass, Chris Sink behind the keys, and horn players Zack Jones and Jamie Boccia along with Jared Steer and fellow Shaker Road staffer Mike Walsh on drums, and Chris Stambaugh on bass.

“He’s also the person that built my guitars,” Solsky said of the latter. “My son Nathan plays on one of the tracks and he has a Stambaugh guitar as well. So with the exception of one bass, all the stringed instruments were Stambaughs.”

Nick Phaneuf crafted the middle section of “Home Suite,” which opens the album.

“I recorded the first and second parts, and then I gave that to Nick; he took those and made that center section,” Solsky said. “I label the music as jazztronica, neo-soul and certainly some funk, but he definitely made the electronica part of that.”

The tracks alternate between Trade (“anything with horns is them”) and a guest band with Walsh, Sink and Stambaugh. For the Bank of New Hampshire Stage show, the new album will be played from start to finish, using all the musicians. After a break, everyone will return for an eclectic set to close the night.

Two drum kits will be on stage.

“The drummers have very specific sounds,” Solsky said. “At one point I thought they’d share a set, but I don’t think that’s going to do it justice. They should be up there expressing themselves with the sound that they feel comfortable with.”

Solsky channeled his inner Stevie Wonder on the new disc, playing flute, melodica, percussion, bass and keys in addition to guitar. That’s an outgrowth of his solo shows, where he does a lot of looping, including drums when Laliotis isn’t with him.

This also sparked an urge to make Home; at more than one gig, people have approached him asking to buy a CD.

“It happened frequently enough where I realized I really needed to actually have music available,” he said. “But a whole album of me just looping? That’s going to get really old, really fast. And why wouldn’t I include all these great musicians that I play with regularly? That was a catalyst for it.”

Fortunately, the guest players did their parts just in time, working at Noise Floor on a weekend just before lockdown.

“I was going to go back to the studio and do my parts on another weekend. Then the pandemic hit,” Solsky said.

So he bought a basic recording setup.

“I knew I wasn’t going to put it out until I could actually have a concert — that was really important to me,” he said. So, fine tuning went on for months. “I could take my time with it, which was a blessing but also a challenge. I had access to record it here, so I had a hard time stopping.”

Scott Solsky Album Release Party
Friday, July 16, 8 p.m.
Where: Bank of NH Stage, 16 S. Main St., Concord
Tickets: $15 tickets, $10 livestream at

Featured photo: The Weight Band. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 21/07/15

Local music news & events

Rolling on: One band hit hard by the recent pandemic was Enter the Haggis. Formed in Toronto with musicians from Portland and Philadelphia, the Celtic-flavored rockers were three shows into a celebratory release tour for their new album The Archer’s Parade when the curtain fell. They livestreamed a few shows, but now they’re back where they belong and where they’ve been for over two decades, on the road. Thursday, July 15, 6 p.m., Tupelo Drive-In, 10 A St., Derry. $75 per car, $20 per person (table) at

Music romance: Betsy Green and Scott Heron formed Green Heron after meeting when their respective bands played a gig together, jamming all night and falling in love. Following two albums with mostly original songs — 2018’s Folk Heroes and 2019’s New Pair of Shoes — the pair recently completed Feet on the Floorboards, blending in covers to better reflect their onstage sound. Friday, July 16, 6 p.m., Twin Barns Brewing Co., 194 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith,

Hopeful man: A State Department cultural ambassador with a TED Talk to his credit, Seth Glier has an atypical resume for a musician. His newest album, The Coronation, is due on August 20. Its title track was inspired by an optimism he felt during lockdown, a belief that “the x-ray of Covid” on society offered an “invitation for all of us to experience this new world, to try to build back even better.” Saturday, July 17, 6 p.m., Fletcher-Murphy Park, 28 Fayette St., Concord, tickets $12 ($8 livestream) at

Hot hybrid: Few combos boast a blend of genres like High Step Society, which lives at the intersection of The Cotton Club and Electric Daisy Festival. Eugene Weekly wrote, “they take it to the next level with a live horn sections, sultry singers and energetic dance beats that capture the excitement of the jazz age and rocket launch it a century into the future.” Funky favorites The Trichomes open the show. Sunday, July 18, 6 p.m., Jewel Music Venue, 61 Canal St., Manchester, tickets $15 at

The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz

The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz (Celedon Books, 320 pages)

Writers, for the most part, live boring lives. We sit at our desks and imagine a world that may or may not exist. The last time we read about a writer having an “adventure” was in Misery by Stephen King.

And we all know how that one turned out — ouch.

Still, writers are my people, they are my tribe and if a fictional suspense thriller comes out where the main protagonist is a writer? I’m in. Such is the case with The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz.

The plot of The Plot is a bit convoluted, but that’s what makes it so interesting. A one-hit wonder novel writer named Jacob (Jake) Bonner stalls on writing his next book for years. He admits that for a writer, his best days may be behind, which sends him into a depressive spiral. To make money and barely survive he “teaches” (read shows up) at an MFA program for writers.

Part of what Jake teaches about writing fiction is plot. Writers all know that there are only so many plot lines out there. The quest, the voyage and return, coming of age, overcoming the monster, etc. All plots fall within those boundaries and we are taught that no other plot lines exist.

One of his students, a brash, rather uneducated brute, tells Jake his idea for a book. The plot, he insists, is one that has never been written before and is so good that it won’t matter if the writing is not proficient — the book will sell.

Hmm, that must be one heck of a plot.

The student tells Jake his story’s plot and Jake has to agree: It’s a plot line that has never been identified. It’s really good. The student is right to be cocky; he’s going to make a lot of money from the book. Even if it’s poorly written.

After the program, the student moves on and Jake continues to sink into a depression.

Years later, Jake wonders why there has never been any talk about his student’s book with the unique plot. After doing a little research he discovers that his former student had died a few months after the writer’s program. The book was never written.

So Jake writes his student’s story. It’s important to note that he doesn’t plagiarize the words of his student, but he does use the idea of his plot, in much the same way that The Lion King uses the plot of Hamlet. Just like the cocky student predicted, the plot of the story is so good that, especially when done by an accomplished writer, the book zooms to the top of every best seller list. Jake is in hot demand, he’s on TV, a movie by an A-list director is optioned. Everything is wonderful! Jake even finds a supportive fan girlfriend who seems to fill in all the holes in his world. Life is definitely good.

Until Jake gets a mysterious email with the message: “I know what you’ve done, you stole someone else’s story.” This is where the real action starts. We get to watch a writer devolve from guilt (the absolute worst thing you can accuse a writer of is plagiarism, even if technically it’s not true).

The messages keep coming. Jake begins to investigate. If the original student with the plot idea is dead then who is sending the messages? What follows are twists and turns and unexpected happenings that will keep you flipping those pages.

And yes, The Plot is a twist in itself. As it is told, it appears to contain what could be a new plot structure (or at the very least plot device) because at the very end, the one thing that is never supposed to happen in a hero’s tale happens. I literally gasped because we are all taught you just can’t do that.

While you don’t need to be a writer to enjoy this book, having some literary background on plot construction makes it that much more enjoyable.

Short chapters that switch between the current story and the book that Jake wrote work together to weave a series of events that you don’t necessarily know are connected until the very end. While I did suspect something was “wrong” I did not figure out what was going on until it was explained, making this a truly suspenseful read.

I love page-turners and this book was one for me. Started it one evening, finished it the next.

Intelligent, entertaining, swiftly moving — I wouldn’t be surprised if life imitates written art and a movie is made out of this thought-provoking one. A

– Reviewed by Wendy E. N. Thomas

Book Notes

Here’s a tip: If you want to know how a book is really selling, pay no mind to the rating that crops up at the top of the page on Amazon: the one that says a book is No. 1 in a specific category such as “pillow manufacturers for Donald Trump.”

It’s the rating under “Product Details” that tells you how a book is performing, and sometimes this is even more reliable than what the New York Times bestseller list says, a publisher told me this week. No. 1, of course, is best, but anything up to 1,000, give or take a few hundred, is decent.

That said, books that suddenly show up in the top 10, such as last week’s debut of How I Saved The Worldby Jesse Waters (Broadside, 320 pages), can leave some people scratching their heads. If you’re a Fox News viewer, you know Waters as a co-host of The Five; if not, you’ve likely never heard of him.

Similarly, people who vaguely know Bill O’Reilly as someone who was supposed to be disgraced may be surprised to see him holding forth on The New York Times’ bestseller list for the past month with Killing the Mob (co-written with Martin Dugard, St. Martin’s Press, 304 pages).

Fox News did fire O’Reilly in 2017 after charges of sexual harassment, but he now has a podcast and evidently a loyal following for his series of “Killing” books, which include Killing Kennedy, Killing Patton, Killing Jesus, Killing Reagan, Killing Crazy Horse and so forth. The most recent sales show there’s plenty of life left in this series.

Other interesting fare out this month includes a provocative new book by Michael Pollan: This is Your Mind on Plants (Penguin, 288 pages), which is not, as it seems, about a plant-based diet, but about the mind-altering properties of caffeine, opium and mescaline. His latest interest in hallucinogens is a sharp turn from his early, more mainstream books such as The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Penguin, 464 pages) and In Defense of Food (Penguin, 256 pages).

And a novel based on the 2019 film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, written by director Quentin Tarantino, is out in paperback (Harper Perennial, 400 pages). It’s Tarantino’s first week of fiction and is described by the publisher as “hilarious, delicious and brutal” — just like his films.


Author events

MEGAN MIRANDA Author presents Such a Quiet Place. Hosted by The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Tues., July 20, 7 p.m. Virtual. Tickets cost $5. Visit or call 436-2400.

JOYCE MAYNARD Author presents Count the Ways. Toadstool Bookstore, 12 Depot Square, Peterborough. Sat., July 24, 11 a.m. Visit or call 924-3543.

GIGI GEORGES Author presents Downeast: Five Maine Girls and the Unseen Story of Rural America. Toadstool Bookstore, Somerset Plaza, 375 Amherst St., Route 101A, Nashua. Sat., July 24, 2 to 4 p.m. Visit or call 673-1734.

JESS KIMBALL Author presents My Pseudo-College Experience. Virtual event, hosted by Toadstool Bookstores, located in Nashua, Peterborough and Keene. Tues., July 27, 6 to 7 p.m. Visit or call 673-1734.

CATHLEEN ELLE Author presents Shattered Together. Virtual event, hosted by Toadstool Bookstores, located in Nashua, Peterborough and Keene. Thurs., July 29, 6 p.m. Visit or call 673-1734.


DOWN CELLAR POETRY SALON Poetry event series presented by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire. Monthly. First Sunday. Visit

SLAM FREE OR DIE Series of open mic nights for poets and spoken-word artists. Stark Tavern, 500 N. Commercial St., Manchester. Weekly. Thursday, doors open and sign-ups beginning at 7 p.m., open mic at 8 p.m. The series also features several poetry slams every month. Events are open to all ages. Cover charge of $3 to $5 at the door, which can be paid with cash or by Venmo. Visit, e-mail or call 858-3286.

Book Clubs

BOOKERY Online. Monthly. Third Thursday, 6 p.m. Bookstore based in Manchester. Visit or call 836-6600.

GIBSON’S BOOKSTORE Online, via Zoom. Monthly. First Monday, 5:30 p.m. Bookstore based in Concord. Visit or call 224-0562.

TO SHARE BREWING CO. 720 Union St., Manchester. Monthly. Second Thursday, 6 p.m. RSVP required. Visit or call 836-6947.

GOFFSTOWN PUBLIC LIBRARY 2 High St., Goffstown. Monthly. Third Wednesday, 1:30 p.m. Call 497-2102, email or visit

BELKNAP MILL Online. Monthly. Last Wednesday, 6 p.m. Based in Laconia. Email

NASHUA PUBLIC LIBRARY Online. Monthly. Second Friday, 3 p.m. Call 589-4611, email or visit

Featured photo: Crying in H Mart.

At the Sofaplex 21/07/15

Fear Street Part 1: 1994 & Fear Street Part 2: 1978 (R)

Kiana Madeira, Benjamin Flores Jr.

Also Olivia Scott Welch, Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Ashley Zukerman and, primarily in the second movie, Gillian Jacobs.

In 1994, the town of Shadyside is once again dealing with the sudden and gruesome deaths of a group of people — in this case, several people at the local mall — at the hands of someone who never showed any particular kill-y tendencies before. It’s the Shadyside curse, say residents; the town has seen serial killers before, one every couple of decades it seems. For Deena (Madeira), it’s just further proof that she lives in a cruddy town and has a go-nowhere future, especially since her girlfriend Sam (Welch) moved to neighboring Sunnyvale, a town full of big homes and rich kids and seemingly zero serial killers. Even though the mall killer is shot and killed after his initial spree, a sense of danger still pervades the town, especially after Sunnyvale kids start to torment the Shadysiders with a skeleton mask similar to the one found on the killer. When the skeleton mask figure continues to appear, Deena and her friends start to wonder if it’s really a prank or if, in the words of a note slipped by Sheriff Nick Goode (Zukerman) into the mail slot of the reclusive C. Berman (Jacobs), “it’s happening again” and all the killings are a part of the legend of Sarah Fier, a woman hanged as a witch in the area centuries earlier.

Certainly, that’s what some of the kids thought in 1978. As Deena, Sam, Deena’s brother Josh (Flores) and others fight the skeleton masked killer, they find a mention of C. Berman, the person who survived the last round of serial killings in Shadyside. They reach out to try to get some advice for how to fight whatever it is they’re fighting.

In 1978, several kids were murdered at Camp Nightwing (I mean, of course they were, with a name like that). Sisters Cindy (Emily Rudd) and Ziggy (Sadie Sink) Berman were at the camp, Cindy as a counselor and Ziggy as a much-bullied camper. As the camp prepares for the “uhm, huh”-ily named camp game Color War (a kind of Capture the Flag that pits Sunnyvalers against Shadysiders), camp nurse Mary Lane (Jordana Spiro) seems to have some kind of mental break and tries to kill camp counselor and Cindy’s boyfriend Tommy Slater (McCabe Slye), saying that one way or another he’s going to die that night anyway. Ziggy is sad to see this happen to Mary, one of the few people in camp who has been nice to her, and is drawn to a notebook on Mary’s desk that has notes and maps related to Sarah Fier. Mary’s daughter Ruby Lane (Jordyn DiNatale) was the serial killer during a spate of killings in the 1950s and Mary seems to have been investigating the town’s murderous history and the curse that Sarah Fier supposedly put on what was then the town of Union before it separated into Sunnyvale and Shadyside. As the sisters, Tommy and fellow counselors start to look into Mary’s findings, murder once again takes hold of someone.

These classic slashers are not typically my kind of movie and this is very much a classic slasher, with some real gory, red corn syrupy deaths. But there is a pluckiness to these movies, sort of like the Scream movies without the self-conscious meta commentary. The leads — Deen, Josh, Sam and their buddies in the first movie, the Berman sisters and some other camp counselors in the second — are appealing and are able to balance the tension and jokiness that give these movies their energy. I was also impressed by how the first two movies fit together and tease the third, Fear Street Part 3: 1666, which will be released Friday, July 16, on Netflix. So far, these movies are two solid entries in a potential triple feature. B+ Available on Netflix.

Black Widow

Black Widow (PG-13)

The Avengers’ Black Widow finally gets her stand-alone, sorta-origin movie with Black Widow, the first movie to return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home.

You don’t have to be a total MCU completist to enjoy this movie but it does help when it comes to orienting this movie in the MCU timeline. If you’ve seen Avengers: Endgame and are wondering how Black Widow is having any kind of adventure, stand-alone or otherwise, this movie’s “present” quickly sets up that we are immediately post-Captain America: Civil War and a while pre Avengers: Infinity War. There are actually five movies (Dr. Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor Ragnarok and Black Panther) that come between those two Avengers-heavy films and you could easily imagine a world in which Black Widow was also sandwiched in there. It could have given more oomph to her Infinity War and Endgame character arc and helped make Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow feel like a more fully rounded member of the Avengers and not just an “and also.”

Here, we see not the beginnings of Natasha, who we’ve learned previously was an assassin trained by some kind of quasi-governmental (like S.H.I.E.L.D.?) Russian spy entity, but the origin story of her sense of the importance of family. In 1995 Ohio, a tween/young-teen Natasha (Ever Anderson) is living a boring suburban life with her 6-year-old “sister” Yelena (Violet McGraw) and their “mom” Melina (Rachel Weisz) and “dad” Alexei (David Harbour). But, as we realize when the family suddenly has to flee, their boring suburban life was actually a boring suburban cover and all of these unrelated people are secret agents.

Years go by and Natasha becomes the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent turned Avenger turned anti-Sokovia-Accord fugitive we know from MCU movies past. Yelena (Florence Pugh) meanwhile has grown up to become what Natasha once was, a Widow who still works for the shadowy Russian organization mostly as an expert assassin. We see her chase a target who has been marked for assassination and who has a case Yelena is meant to retrieve. But as she’s getting the case, the target, who is herself a former Widow, sprays Yelena with a red mist. Yelena and all the Widows are acting under the influence of some kind of mind control and the spray has released Yelena from it.

The two women reunite and decide to work together to bring down Dreykov (Ray Winstone), the man who runs the Red Room, the organization that turns vulnerable girls, like Natasha and Yelena, into super soldiers (the ones who survive training) and continues to control not only all their life choices but their minds.

Helping women regain their agency — someone smarter than me can write a thesis about how this mission fits in the MCU worldview and what it says about the MCU’s attempt to course-correct from putting its Strong Female Characters on the sidelines until, like, 2019 and Captain Marvel. But I enjoyed it. Enjoyed it a lot, actually. I feel like this is a really solid examination of this character we didn’t get to know as well in previous movies. It makes sense with what we know about Natasha, it helps us understand her motivations (all the desire to atone and importance of family that was part of her arc in previous movies) and it actually gives more depth to how her story plays out in Endgame.

Johansson of course does a good job with what she’s given here. I say of course because she’s been playing this character since 2010’s Iron Man 2. But she’s also able to bring more to Natasha, more than that goofy “lot of red on my ledger” speech from The Avengers and her sorta romance with Hulk. I wish we could see more of this Black Widow (I mean, I guess we could, conceivably, with a post-this-pre-that sequel, Fast & Furious style).

I also hope there’s a way to see Pugh’s Yelena again. Pugh matches Johansson’s energy and creates an intriguing character of her own. The women have solid sisterly and buddies-on-a-mission energy.

And there is a post-credits scene (of course there is) that suggests how this slice of the MCU can continue (also, if you haven’t caught up on all the Disney+ Marvel TV shows, the post-credits scene might be the incentive you need).

Black Widow is one of the better examples of Marvel’s ability to balance sentiment, humor and action; fill in a narrative hole, and create something that is an overall good time. B+

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence/action, some language and thematic material, according to the MPA on Directed by Cate Shortland with a screenplay by Eric Pearson, Black Widow is two hours and 13 minutes long and distributed by Walt Disney Studios in theaters and on Disney+ for $29.99. It will be available on Disney+ without the extra fee on Oct 6.

Featured photo: Black Widow



Bank of NH Stage in Concord
16 S. Main St., Concord

Capitol Center for the Arts
44 S. Main St., Concord

Chunky’s Cinema Pub
707 Huse Road, Manchester;
151 Coliseum Ave., Nashua;
150 Bridge St., Pelham,

O’neil Cinemas at Brickyard Square
24 Calef Highway, Epping

Red River Theatres
11 S. Main St., Concord

Wilton Town Hall Theatre
40 Main St., Wilton, 654-3456


Midsummer Silent Film Comedy with Sherlock Jr. (1924) and Our Hospitality (1923), both silent films starring Buster Keaton, on Thursday, July 15, at 7:30 p.m. at the Rex in Manchester, featuring live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis. Admission costs $10.

Disney Villains 21+ trivia night at Chunky’s in Manchester on Thursday, July 15, at 7:30 p.m. Admission costs $5, which is a food voucher.

Road Runner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (R, 2021) screening at Red River Theatres in Concord Friday, July 16, through Sunday, July 18, at 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.

Pig (R, 2021) screening at Red River Theatres in Concord Friday, July 16, through Sunday, July 18, at 1:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Summer of Soul (…Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)(PG-13, 2021) screening at Red River Theatres in Concord Friday, July 16, through Sunday, July 18, at 4 & 7 p.m.

Dream Horse (PG, 2021) screening at Red River Theatres in Concord Friday, July 16, through Sunday, July 18, at 1 p.m.

Space Jam: A New Legacy (PG, 2021) a sensory friendly flix screening, with sound lowered and lights up, on Saturday, July 17, 10 a.m. at O’neil Cinema in Epping.

Theater Candy Bingo family-friendly game at Chunky’s in Manchester, Nashua and Pelham on Sunday, July 18, at 6:30 p.m. Admission costs $4.99 plus one theater candy.

Elf (PG, 2003) at the O’neil Cinema in Epping on Monday, July 19, and Wednesday, July 21, at 10 a.m. as part of the summer kids series. Tickets to the screening cost $2 for kids ages 11 and under and $3 for ages 13 and up. A $5 popcorn and drink combo is also for sale.

Hotel Transylvania (PG, 2012) a “Little Lunch Date” screening at Chunky’s in Manchester, Nashua & Pelham on Wednesday, July 21, at 11:30 a.m. Reserve tickets in advance with $5 food vouchers. The screening is kid-friendly, with lights dimmed slightly.

Grease(PG, 1978) a senior showing on Thursday, July 22, at 11:30 a.m. at Chunky’s in Manchester, Nashua and Pelham. Free but reserve tickets in advance with $5 food vouchers.

21+ Scratch Ticket Bingo on Thursday, July 22, at 7 p.m. at Chunky’s in Manchester and Nashua. Admission costs $10.

The Sandlot 21+ trivia night at Chunky’s in Manchester on Thursday, July 22, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is a $5 food voucher.

21+ “Life’s a DRAG” Show on Saturday, July 24, at 9 p.m. at Chunky’s in Manchester. Tickets cost $25.

Branded a Bandit (1924) andThe Iron Rider (1926) silent film Westerns with live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, on Sunday, July 25, 2 p.m., at Wilton Town Hall Theatres. Screenings are free but a $10 donation per person is suggested.

Album Reviews 21/07/15

Assorted Orchids, Assorted Orchids (Whale Watch Records)

Debut album from Boston-based folkie T. McWilliams, whose target audience is the weird-beard acoustic-guitar set that lumps together such debatably disparate acts as Mississippi John Hurt and Nick Drake. He’s lived in a lot of places, including Los Angeles, New York City, Shanghai and Scotland, which would explain the boho feel of these pieces, but it’s nevertheless not a fluffy record at all. There’s real precision in play when McWilliams is plucking his steel and nylon strings and applying his delicate croak to such vivid lyrics as “I entered the garden of scarlet chrysanthemums opening wide” (“The Mighty Kingdom”), and sure, we’ve heard that kind of thing before, but McWilliams’ layering is often divine: It’s not often that one hears incidental finger-picked arpeggios used so decisively that one gets the sense that they’re listening to high-end guitar-tronica, not just another contender for Nick Drake’s throne (not that you’d want to miss this if Drake’s your thing, certainly). Brilliant stuff. A- — Eric W. Saeger

Styx, Crash Of The Crown (UME Records)

If we’re gonna be real about this legendary Chicago arena-rock band, the default diss has always been that they’re a lite version of Yes. But you know what, they do try, and always have, and shut up anyway, because they didn’t have Bill Bruford or Chris Squire, and neither does your band, so chill. I was surprised to see so many other reviewers pointing out that original keyboardist Dennis DeYoung (the guy who sang “Mr. Roboto,” “Come Sail Away” and all the original hits) is gone, being that it’s been 21 years already, but they have their word quotas to fill, and besides, they’re still a fun band to see live. This is their 17th album, and actually quite the inspired effort. Once you get to the middle of the second tune (“The Monster”) you can’t help noticing that this thing is something of an homage to Yes’s Close To The Edge: woozy, busy keyboards; similar level of riffing; epic-gentle vocal harmonies, and hold it, the drummer is doing some very cool stuff. They’re still kickin’, folks. A+


• July 16 is the next all-important date for album releases, only I’m not supposed to call them “albums” anymore, because otherwise I’m a boomer. What that means is that I’m simply going to have to keep calling them albums, because the level of senility in my current boomer state allows me, by law, to act in accordance with my own desires, whether it be calling mixtapes “albums” or throwing a fit at the 7-Eleven if someone’s ahead of me in line buying a million lottery tickets. In other words I can start howling at the ceiling and eating a copy of the newest issue of Teen Vogue magazine until the awkward 20-something clerk comes over and asks me if I’m OK, and nothing will happen other than that because I am a boomer who loves hitting pause on the DVR machine so I can read the hundred-billion warnings on every pharmaceutical ad, and I remember when albums were called albums, and music was awesome, like the mellow tunes of Pat Boone and Spanky & Our Gang! I remember Donny and Marie Osmond too, all you 4chan trolls, secretly making fun of my words! Well, let’s see you make fun of all the edgy and groovy words I’m going to use in my first review this week, as I discuss Hideaway, the new album from skinny San Diego hipster trio Wavves! This is their seventh mixtape — oh wait, they call their records “albums,” not mixtapes, silly me, does anyone have a box of prunes I could borrow, for my digestive health? Whatever, I’ve heard a few of their things, but if I recall, their songs are only slightly more compelling than Grizzly Bear, but I may be wrong, because I’m so totally old and crazy! The band’s last record, You’re Welcome, climbed to No. 95 on the Billboard charts, not that that’s much of an achievement, now that there are only 98 people left in the U.S. who still actually buy albums, but congratulations, guys! Wow, check that out, I wasn’t expecting the title track to be jagged and grungy, but it’s definitely cool, sort of like Nevermind-era Nirvana but without Kurt Cobain’s raw/edgy voice. Spoiler alert, what’ll happen here is a bunch of people will read some stupid review in Nylon or whatnot and start to believe Wavves is awesome, and then they’ll hear actual grunge songs from the ’90s and realize they were lied to, because all the writers at Nylon are corporate-paid hacks, and then we’ll see that long-overdue ’90s music revival, while I sit here eating bowls of pudding and pharmaceuticals and cackling like a witch at all of — what was I saying again?

• Canadian indie quartet The Zolas releases Come Back To Life on Friday! It’s taken them five years to put this album out, their first since 2016’s Swooner, so it’s probably awesome! Nope, it isn’t. The title single is like Grizzly Bear trying to sing through kazoos. My stomach is lurching, it really is.

• Oh great, a new Barenaked Ladies album! Boy, how did music ever survive this long without a new mixtape or cassette or whatever from the millionth band to repackage Peter, Paul and Mary and resell it to the ’90s-college-rock crowd? Right, the new LP is Detour de Force, whose single is “New Disaster,” an ornate tapestry of 1980s Police-ripoff stuff. Moving on.

• Finally, it’s John Mayer, with his latest LP, Sob Rock! Teaser single “Last Train Home” rips off everything to do with Blue Oyster Cult’s “Shooting Shark,” but Mayer will get away with it, because anyone who’s old enough to recognize “Shooting Shark” is either in a rest home or babbling erroneous nonsense about mixtapes in this newspaper.

Retro Playlist

Reminiscing back almost-exactly-whatever eight years ago to 2013, the first order of business was giving a quick exam to Gypsy-punkers Gogol Bordello’s then-spanking-new LP, Pura Vida Conspiracy, their seventh. The album’s single, “Lost Innocent World,” is “a rather subdued version of their usual ‘oi oi oi’ spazzings, not that lead singer Eugene Hütz doesn’t sound the same as always, specifically what Serj Tankian would sound like if he were sort of fun.”

That and a few other review-snippets aside, I was forced by job description to deal with an entire album from Kentucky band Seabird, called Troubled Days. I think I disposed of it rather fairly and adroitly, to wit: “More clean-teen mall-indie for the overhead speakers at TGI Fridays. The intentions of these two Kentuckians couldn’t be more obvious; maybe a ‘big time’ Budweiser commercial spot featuring one of their tunes and they’d call it a rock star career, whether it be one of their more Strokes-like tunes or maybe even one of the debatable curveballs, the tricks to which generally involve mildly interesting guitar sounds more than anything else.” In other words you’ve heard this kind of nonsense a billion times at restaurants, and we can start wrapping up here.

The other “attraction,” for lack of a secret code word with which I could handily signify my displeasure to you, was Eric & Magill’s Baggage and Clothes. “Nerd-indie of a sort that deepens the immersive feel of Animal Collective’s trip,” I yawned, spit spraying everywhere, “this accomplished by incorporating a different, more mellow notion of swirly layering and a few elements of Simon and Garfunkel’s mawkish solitude.” (If it’s any consolation to any E&M band members who might be reading, I wouldn’t have ever thought of you again if it hadn’t been for this little stroll down memory lane.)

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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