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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 Hecks - My Star Music Album Reviews

Chicago’s least-relaxed band doubles their personnel and scales up their sound for a set of unnerving new wave.

Since they began in 2012, the Hecks have sounded like Chicago’s least-relaxed band. They approach melody not as a sequence of notes, but jabs. On their 2016 self-titled debut, recorded when the band was still a duo of singer-guitarist Andy Mosiman and drummer Zack Hebert, Mosiman sounded like he was strenuously aiming his guitar, playing either unnervingly on-beat or nowhere near it. His jagged interplay with Hebert recalled the late Women guitarist Chris Reimer, or Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis bashing holes through the solid walls of Lee Harris’s drumming. Mosiman committed to maintaining this angularity in ways beyond his guitar playing, too, whether by singing in a grating monotone or by holding a stoic stage face only slightly less intense than that of the sudden-realization meme guy.


Since then, the Hecks added their producer, Dave Vettraino, as a third official member on guitar, followed by a full-time synth player in Jeff Graupner, thereby doubling their personnel. They sound like a completely different band on their sophomore album, My Star, for two main reasons. The first and most obvious is that the grainy recording quality of their debut is out the window; everything on My Star has been recast in sparkling high-definition. The album’s low end is satisfyingly full. Second, and more surprisingly, not a single sound on My Star is out of place; there no “off” notes, no stray threads. Postures are straight, clothes are ironed, and nobody stumbles.

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As a result, the bizarro world of the Hecks is an entirely different place to spend time; it sounds like it belongs somewhere around the Carter presidency and the start of the jogging craze. “Zipper” sounds like they stayed up for three straight days watching Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up” music video, then only remembered how to play one repeating measure. “Heat Wave” reimagines the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” as a blank motorik pulse playing in an empty airplane hangar.

Mosiman uses his voice primarily for instrumental effect on My Star, more so than on the debut. His lyrics are usually obscured by the band, except for when serving as boilerplate to complete a hook: “It’s tearing me apart” on “Heat Wave,” or “I only wanted to be with you” on the otherwise-fantastic Prince nod “So 4 Real.” The automated quality can be a little suffocating: At one point, he chants the alphabet to the beat, and at another, he counts up to and backwards from eight the same way. Live, the band dances together with stiff, synchronized choreography. That means these songs wind up making a little more sense onstage than they do on record. Nonetheless, there is something poignant in their mathematical rigor; they may treat songs like spreadsheets, but they fill the cells with neon.


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