May 28, 2020

Jon Fratelli – Bright Night Flowers – Cooking Vinyl

By Kristi Kates | March 9, 2019

You might recognize that last name from the punky-pop outfit The Fratellis (the Scottish band that brought you the catchy 2006 single “Chelsea Dagger”), but this album steps right on out of that band’s footprints. Instead, the solo Fratelli (The Fratellis’ lead songwriter) offers up a set of piano-penned tracks that bring together the best of his witty, poetic lyricism with slower, more sensitive tempos that allow the tunes to unfold nicely, from the vintage-country dusted “Evangaline” to the acoustics-n-strings ambiance of the pretty “Rolling By.” ***

Common Kings – One Day – Island Empire
Following a recent trek as opening act for none other than Bruno Mars, the latest set from Common Kings (following the Grammy-nominated Lost in Paradise) includes appearances from Matisyahu, Kat Dahlia, and Stephen Marley, who add extra flair to this rock/hip-hop/reggae set, now on a special vinyl release. The lead single and title track captures those island vibes, while “Lock Me Up” (with Marley) gallops through several lyrical takes on current hot topics. Another standout, “Champion” (featuring Dahlia and a repetitive, bouncy chorus) is reminiscent of the Black Eyed Peas gone reggae. ** ½
The Tourist – Everyday – Monday Records
Tourist (aka William Phillips) is back with a chill-tronica set that explores “the art of being human,” as well as Phillips’ own experiences winning a Grammy and getting married. Opener “Awake” leads you into the set gradually, with cautious synths building throughout; acoustic guitars are introduced in “Someone Else,” where they alternate with sharper synth tones; and “Apollo” starts all atmospheric before twisting itself around into an experimental disco-meets-EDM track. ***
Astronoid – Astronoid – BMusic
Don’t be deceived by that chill, downtempo-looking album cover – this is actually the latest from Astronoid, 45 minutes of mildly disappointing heavy prog-influenced rock. In spite of song titles like “A New Color,” the sounds here are mostly stuck in the past, as if they’re trying to recapture the rock sound of the early ’90s with screeching garage guitars and predictable lyric combos. “I Dream in Lines” is a telling example; it offers little variance in the arrangement or melody line. The production level is fine, if a little too polished; the problem is, there’s not much to polish. *


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