Yeasayer — ‘Erotic Reruns’
THE GOOD: Brooklyn indie band Yeasayer plays it straight on its fifth.
THE BAD: Some may miss the odd sounds and experimental outbursts of past albums.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Read any press release associated with “Reruns,” and you find the usual dose of “the album is a reaction to these dark times” and “written in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.” But unless you’re listening REALLY closely, all that pessimism gets lost. This is the most straightforward POP-leaning album in the band’s catalog.
“Reruns” is a tight, nine-song affair, and from the very moment snappy, crackling opener “People I Loved” kicks into high gear, the guys blur the lines between guitar-based rock and synth-heavy fare. The entire record moves forward without stopping for a weird bridge or loopy instrumental diversion.
The whole thing would be incredibly frustrating if Yeasayer wasn’t so good at this slightly new formula. If it had to get one predictable but punchy set out of its system, so be it.
BUY IT?: Sure.
An Horse — ‘Modern Air’
THE GOOD: Australian indie duo An Horse comes back after an extended hiatus with its third.
THE BAD: I’m not sure if it was worth an eight-year wait, but “Modern Air” is solid enough.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Kate Cooper and drummer/backing vocalist Damon Cox, An Horse is kind of like Down Under’s version of Matt and Kim with the genders reversed. Plus, these Aussies deliver a little more genuine rock bite. So imagine the aforementioned Brooklyn duo crossed with … maybe … Thermals.
Other than the ethereal and spacey “Bob Ross (Be the Water),” a cool breather at the album’s midpoint, “Modern Air” is packed with guitar riffs, big hooks and a tough forward thrust. Cooper’s vocals are anything but delicate; she comes off as a strong, commanding frontwoman who could handle anything thrown her way. Cox backs her up with stomping drum beats and the occasional keyboard flourish to fill in what little gaps there are. The entire combination may not be innovative, but it gets the job done.
BUY IT?: Yep.
Mark Ronson — ‘Late Night Feelings’
THE GOOD: British DJ/producer/songwriter Mark Ronson is back with his fifth.
THE BAD: Never before has the man been this far back in the shadows; his guest vocalists dominate the proceedings. But in THIS case, that’s not a “bad” thing.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Here Ronson works with female vocalists exclusively, with the women ranging from Lykke Li to Yebba to Miley Cyrus. Just about every collaboration finds the featured artist baring her emotions and adding the real punch to Ronson’s more reserved (than usual) backing tracks. That’s not to say “Feelings” doesn’t get funky in spots. It most certainly does.
However, more memorable bits include the tough Alicia Keys piece “Truth,” Cyrus’ Nashville-tinged “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart” and the mid-tempo, heart-wrenching, melancholy spread over Angel Olsen’s “True Blue.” We don’t get an outright banger like Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” from four years ago, but “Feelings” doesn’t need one. This album hails from a completely different place, further demonstrating Ronson’s versatility.
BUY IT?: Absolutely.