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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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Gong Gong Gong 工工工 - Phantom Rhythm 幽靈節奏 (幽霊リズム) Music Album Reviews

The Beijing-based post-punk duo stack garage instrumentation, Ali Farka Touré melodies, and dissonance without a whiff of the baroque.

Acouple of misfits and a brash bouquet of sound: These are the building blocks from which rock’n’roll sprang. Beijing-based Gong Gong Gong slot directly into the canon—the streamlined duo of Tom Ng and Joshua Frank use two of the most familiar instruments in the rock pantheon, a rhythm guitar and a bass, to create Phantom Rhythm 幽靈節奏. The result is a novel pastiche of post-punk, West African blues, Bo Diddley, and distortion.


Ng and Frank started playing together in 2015 under their adopted city’s underpasses and in DIY spaces. Even with crisp production, this record (their first, after 2018’s Siren 7") indicates a pair capable of holding its own in a repurposed warehouse or shipping crate. Their divergent backgrounds—Ng grew up in Hong Kong, and Montreal-born Frank has lived in Beijing off and on since childhood—yields a complementary chemistry. Adding drums or keys would be an intrusion. Gong Gong Gong stack garage instrumentation, Ali Farka Touré melodies, and dissonance without a whiff of the baroque. Opener “The Last Note” casts an ominous, unrelenting spell, building steadily towards Ng’s deadpan Cantonese intonations. It’s a refusal to capitulate on multiple fronts—language, fervor, unnecessary flourishes. By minute four, the fervent, interwoven riffs evoke the sinews of a charging beast.

The album reaches its zenith midway through, where standouts “Wei Wei Wei” and “Some Kind of Demon” follow in succession. These songs follow a similar structure as most others—an insistent, galloping rhythm overlaid with guttural cries and a sinuous riff. “Wei Wei Wei”’s opening fuzz leads into a faux-casual plod, charting a steady ascent into rhythmic abandon, order teasing at chaos. It’s music that engages one’s entire body. “It’s a pity/As long as/Can only/But not/Still,” Ng yelps on “Some Kind of Demon,” the choked lyrics in direct opposition to the music’s metronomic swagger.

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In its spareness and meticulousness, Phantom Rhythm 幽靈節奏 leaves so little room for missteps that every reverberation proves to be an act of curation and collaboration. If there’s a critique to be made here, it’s that some tracks (“Moonshadows,” for instance) pale in comparison to their freakier counterparts, whose jazzy rhythms elevate them beyond their component parts. Even so, Ng’s screech in the second half of “Moonshadows” is a fork stuck into a live outlet. At their best, Gong Gong Gong point towards a future where (porous) borders and a vast palette of influences facilitate interesting collaboration. When they’re plugged in, driving towards a chorus or bridge, they sound like an engine of revelation.


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