OVER UNDER SIDEWAYS DOWN INSECURE MEN — ‘Insecure Men’
THE GOOD: Insecure Men release a weird and (mostly) wonderful debut record.
THE BAD: Some ideas feel half-baked, with the album more about a particular vibe than individual songs.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Singers/songwriters/multi-instrumentalists Saul Adamczewski and Ben Romans-Hopcraft make up the core of Insecure Men, although these two get copious amounts of help from a variety of players, including producer Sean Lennon. Saul and Sean previously worked together on last year’s Moonlandingz album.
However, Insecure Men hails from a completely different place. Synths are much more prominent, either in a pop setting (“Teenage Toy”) or in a cheeky recollection of vintage exotica (“Heathrow”). Guitars, live drums, and other random instrumentation, however, keep “Insecure Men” from becoming a straight-up electronic record.
Some moments are downright focused and catchy (“I Don’t Wanna Dance”), while others drift along through the hypnotic abyss (“Buried in the Bleak”). Both extremes work, but the upbeat stuff leaves a longer-lasting impression. Time will tell if this is a one-off project or not.
BUY IT?: Your choice.
DR. DOG — ‘Critical Equation’
THE GOOD: Philadelphia indie rock outfit Dr. Dog comes back with a varied 10th.
THE BAD: No complaints.
THE NITTY GRITTY: At times, Dr. Dog tries to be all things to most people, an indie band not afraid to wear ’60s influences on its sleeve (Beach Boy harmonies, vintage folk rock and the occasional stoner jam) while flirting with straightforward pop songs and/or more intricate, progressive arrangements. It makes ANY Dog set an unpredictable listening experience, and most of its albums work extremely well as uninterrupted, cohesive works.
“Equation” is no exception. Whether it’s the eerie blue hues coloring “Listening In”; the bright, infectious “True Love”; or the moody burn permeating “Buzzing in the Light,” each track is unique and well executed. The band often finds that sweet spot between the calculated and the spontaneous. The songs aren’t sloppy, but their energy isn’t stifled, either. One could say the records are slightly interchangeable, but that loose vibe works time and again.
BUY IT?: Sure.
ACID DAD — ‘Acid Dad’
THE GOOD: New York indie psychedelic rockers Acid Dad shines on its full-length debut.
THE BAD: Nah.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The boys channel early Charlatans UK and Ride, bringing us back to late 1990, the golden age of shoegaze, and the heady days of Madchester right before the American Nirvana explosion. I’m not sure that was their intention, but that’s what THIS old man hears.
About half the record cranks and crackles with energy, with guitar-driven, danceable bits such as “Mr. Major” and “2Ci.” Then you get the down-tempo, spaced-out drones such as “Child” and the pedal steel-colored “Dissin.” Between those two extremes, one finds cool, even-paced, swirly freak-outs such as the wispy and jangly “Mow My Lawn” and “No Answer.”
“Acid Dad” the album settles within that happy medium between the hyper and the hypnotic. You can drift to this stuff without falling asleep. The sheer volume and sharp changes of pace will make sure of that.
BUY IT?: YES. A smart debut indeed.