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Third Eye Blind - Screamer Music Album Reviews

Third Eye Blind - Screamer Music Album Reviews On the band’s sixth album, frontman Stephan Jenkins Peter Pans his way through an improbably infectious set of would-be hits.
If he had less ambition and a lower tolerance for failure, Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins could be sipping Mai Tais with Mark McGrath on the deck of a ’90s rock cruise right now, enjoying a life of royalty checks and low expectations. Instead, he’s carried on as if any year might be the one where his group finally reclaims its former glory. Everything he does is a long-shot bid for relevance: He covers Bon Iver, records bold political statements, and generally does the last thing we ask from the second-tier figures of alt-rock’s yesteryear: He tries.



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The Comet Is Coming - The Afterlife Music Album Reviews

Shabaka Hutchings’ group skewers the jazz-trio format as it’s typically understood, flipping the minimalist palette into an electrifying, apocalyptic sound.

Since being shortlisted for the Mercury Prize in 2016, British-Barbadian saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings has become a formidable presence in the international jazz scene, making fans of Beyoncé and Virgil Abloh along the way. Hutchings landed not just one but three of his different bands on the Impulse label in the process. From the Afro-Caribbean stomp of his Sons of Kemet to the South African spiritual jazz of Shabaka and the Ancestors, his music is simultaneously rooted in the traditional, broadly international in scope, and thoroughly of the moment.

But there’s something in the way his group the Comet Is Coming skewers the typical jazz trio that stands apart from his other projects. Its surface speaks to the cosmic sounds of Sun Ra, but there’s something raw and earthy at the core. Comet draw from the minimal, restrained palette of the trio format to make something that’s electrifying and apocalyptic all at once, able to tear the roof of jazz—as well as rock, jam band, and EDM—festivals. A companion piece to this year’s Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery, The Afterlife continues to hover over that album’s scorched earth, not replicating the rush of “Summon the Fire” but instead exploring in greater detail that set’s most somber moments. It’s concise yet also shows the trio’s depth in just over 30 minutes.

Whereas Trust in the Lifeforce’s centerpiece featured the poet Kate Tempest speaking vitriolically of capitalism and “the blood of the past,” here the band welcomes back to the fold Joshua Idehen. Idehen appeared on Sons of Kemet’s Impulse debut and previous Comet albums, most tellingly on “The Final Days of the Apocalypse.” His dystopian demeanor remains unchanged on opener “All That Matters Is the Moments,” spitting lines of “daydreaming of a world I won’t live to see” against a slow roil of drums and widening oscillations. There are glints of clarity, at least, if not hope, as he speaks of holding onto the memories of friendships in trying times.

No matter the cosmic jazz or sci-fi backdrop conjured, Hutchings knows when to ride the carefully controlled swells of drummer Max “Betamax” Hallett and synth player Dan “Danalogue” Leavers and when to rove on his own. He lays in the cut on the beautiful “The Softness of the Present,” basking in warm chords laid down by Leavers and the chunky beat of Hallett, adding just enough vibrato to keep the piece from drifting off into downtempo territory. Instead, the songs drifts into the title track, which strikes a deft balance between menacing sine waves and the kind of gurgling ostinatos that Alice Coltrane would throw down on her organ. “The Seven Planetary Heavens” deftly blends the breathy air of spiritual jazz with the pinging of techno to make something that, instead of reaching the point of combustion, maintains a radiant glow.

Divorced from the flickering electronics and rolling drums, Hutchings’ burnished horn would sound merely soulful, as it is on the two-part “Lifeforce.” But combined with the arpeggios and simmering cymbals, his tone veers towards the melancholic, as if moving over a planet’s surface in search of life. In the song’s second half, as Hallett’s chunky breaks transition towards something more uplifting, Hutchings’ horn picks up enough velocity that the trio achieves liftoff, no doubt to some other unexplored corner of the cosmos.

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