Fall Out Boy performs on stage at the iHeartRadio Album Release Party at the iHeartRadio Theater Los Angeles in Burbank, Calif.
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Fall Out Boy (Island)
As one of emo-punk’s earliest adopters, Fall Out Boy has come a long way since its 2001 origins. Sure, clever lyricist Pete Wentz and rough soulful vocalist Patrick Stump can yammer on about “childhood heroes having fallen off or died,” and, maybe a few driving gloved fists get thrown. For the most part, however, MANIA is so busy, poppy, glossy, and over-zealously ebullient that no one working within its confines could’ve been mopey. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing when you consider FOB’s new sugar-rushing EDM-inspired sort-of pop acts best with the quartet’s usual brand of complex melody/hook writing.
Vigorous to a fault, MANIA moves from the galvanic mega-metal of “The Last of the Real Ones,” the fussy thundering electro-clash of “Young and Menace,” the waltzing wonk of “Heaven’s Gate,” to the torrid tropical house of “Hold Me Tight or Don’t” awkwardly but with such bristle and floss, it works as a unified whole. The one tune that doesn’t fit is “Champions.” Cowritten by FOB and bluer-than-blue composer Sia Furler, the song chugs weirdly in comparison to the rest of MANIA — a raspy anthem with a sporty name and no cause or stadium to play in. And it’ll be a smash.
— A.D. AMOROSI, Philadelphia Inquirer
'It's not us,' by Umphrey's McGee.
IT’S NOT US
Umphrey’s McGee (Nothing Too Fancy Music)
In this era of hyper-specialization, there must be a satellite radio station somewhere playing only pop songs released in 1988 whose titles include four vowels and two consonants, but not “a’’ or “r,” and were composed in April under a waxing gibbous moon. Umphrey’s McGee offers a much more varied and gratifying trip across the dial.
Incorporating funk metal, electronic rock, light blues, some jazz, an acoustic ballad, plain old rock, and more, it’s not us has it all within the confines of 11 songs and 53 minutes while retaining the jam band’s prog rock origins.
With a synth bass and its hard dance rhythm, opener “The Silent Type” is not at all hushed nor your typical Umphrey’s McGee track, which does not prevent it from being a highlight. “Looks” sounds vaguely like Faith No More while even a minor dude will tell you that on “Whistle Kids” the band follows Lauren Bacall’s instructions to a tee — they put their lips together and blow.
“Half Delayed” arrives fully formed, a calming, Alan Parsons-like power ballad up until the crushing guitar solo, while Joshua Redman adds his sax to “Speak Up,” which also includes some gorgeous vocal harmonies.
The screaming, pounding guitars on the extended outro of “Remind Me” contrast with the gentleness and romanticism of the next track, “You & You Alone,” just like “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” brushes up against “Here Comes The Sun” on the Beatles’ Abbey Road. Considering that in 2014 the band recorded an album at Abbey Road’s Studio Two (the Fab Four’s favorite) that included a cover of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” it may be more than a fluke.
Undoubtedly, it’s not us includes some of the best melodies Umphrey’s McGee has recorded. But if it’s not them, who?
— PABLO GORONDI, Associated Press
Hiromi and Edmar Castaneda's 'Live in Montreal.'
LIVE IN MONTREAL
Hiromi and Edmar Castaneda (Telarc)
This album features an amazing 2017 Montreal International Jazz Festival performance by two powerhouse contemporary jazz musicians, Japanese pianist-composer Hiromi, and Columbian electric harp master Edmar Castaneda. But despite its undeniable technical brilliance, it’s a performance that can both fascinate and frustrate listeners.
First, the pairing is spot on. This is a duet with some obvious chemistry. The two have only known one another since 2016, and each flawlessly picks up where the other ends. And some of the solos are absolutely stunning, far beyond what many mortals can do.
But its frenetic pace and muscular sound in some areas can be a little frustrating. Not always, but there are sections of the concert where their emphasis seems to be more on impressing listeners with their fast-hand, fast-thinking and athletic-like prowess on piano and harp, respectively, than making arrangements as beautiful as they could be.
I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for solo piano and solo harp. And, while bringing two of the world’s best together for this duet is a largely successful project, I’m left feeling there were some lost opportunities.
Of special note: A tribute to one of my favorite jazz bassists and one of the favorites of countless other musicologists, the late, great Jaco Pastorius, plus a beautiful tribute Hiromi wrote, “Moonight Sunshine,” in response to the horrific tsunami and earthquake that devastated her native Japan in 2011.
There’s also a fun, vampy rendition of the John Williams’ classic swing piece from Star Wars , “Cantina Band.”
—TOM HENRY, The Blade
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