CD Reviews


Glasser Ring (True Panther)

On the surface, “one-woman orchestra” Cameron Mesirow (a.k.a. Glasser, perhaps named after the American “reality therapy” psychiatrist) sounds like Björk, thanks to her quirky, intergalactic vocal attack. After a deeper listen, Glasser is less abstract, more organic than the Icelandic chanteuse. Plus, this lady wails on a xylophone, a darn cool instrument lacking in today’s indie scene. When playing live, Mesirow and her musical friends wear goofy conical Asian hats and hump MacBook Pros with the best of hipsters. Ring, a studio effort, feels a bit more subdued and haunting. But once you reach the confectionary dance track “Treasury of We,” there’s really no use in resisting Glasser’s ebullient attraction. The throbbing, windcharm-tinkling “Mirrorage” offers a cappella charms galore; sax-farting, tom tom-beating “Clamour” builds into a massive, layered groove—all the while, Mesirow’s flexible voice provides a sensual electricity that runs throughout the album’s nine fractured yet faultless tracks. Clever without being cloying, Glasser’s debut rings true. ★★★☆☆


Bryan Ferry Olympia (Astralwerks)

For too long, Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry has focused on performing other people’s material. Dylanesque (2007) was enjoyable, but not enough to tide over fans when you consider half of his preceding effort, 2002’s Frantic, consisted of covers. Olympia, his first work for Astralwerks, is a proper album of originals, albeit with a number of collaborators, including Scissor Sisters, Brian Eno and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. This is Ferry’s best work since 1987’s Bête Noire, sounding less processed and produced than what we’ve come to expect, but no less polished. The melodies and lyrics are effortless, smooth and attentive, as in “Alphaville,” which benefits from Eno’s eerie synthesizer flourishes and a snippet of the famous French film’s dialogue. Brandon Flowers could’ve learned about debonair melancholy from “Heartache by Numbers,” with its driving beat that only surrenders to intriguing choral moments and a surprising, our-of-nowhere bass solo by Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Olympia marks Ferry’s return to mythical, magical suave-pop grandeur. ★★★★☆


Gin Blossoms No Chocolate Cake (429)

This Tempe, Ariz.-based guitar-jangle quartet never recovered from the suicide of its fifth and founding member, Doug Hopkins, whose sadly beautiful songs (“Hey Jealousy”) made the Gin Blossoms’ debut, New Miserable Experience, so compelling. To its credit, the band soldiers on and still sporadically ekes out quality albums, including 2006’s overlooked, well-crafted Major Lodge Victory, the Blossoms’ first full-length after a 10-year silence. While No Chocolate Cake lacks the alcohol-ravaged edge that initially carried the band so far, it’s a superbly constructed effort on every level, from first song (“Don’t Change for Me”) to last (“Goin’ to California”). Singer Robin Wilson’s laid-back tenor remains perfectly suited for bittersweet, punchy anthems of intense loss and mild redemption. Sure, at times it gets middle-of-the-road (“I’m Ready”) and I begin to miss the old Blossoms who wrote songs about porn stars and binge drinking. Well, we all grow up. ★★★☆☆

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By Jarret Keene