Thu, Mar 19, 2015 - Page 11 News List

CD reviews

By Jon Caramanica and Nate Chinen  /  NY Times News Service

Madness, by Sleeping With Sirens


Sleeping With Sirens


Anxiety about rock’s fading commercial prospects tends to focus on its bloated center, the overambitious bands like Imagine Dragons who aim for grand scale but have little substance to fill it in. But the frisson that could potentially keep rock broadly viable is often happening far from that center.

Throughout the 2000s, it’s been punk and its many offshoots that have, in fact, been rock’s great pop hope, from pop-punk to emo to electro-punk. Today, it may finally be posthardcore’s turn.

That idea certainly seems reasonable when listening to Madness, the fourth album from Sleeping With Sirens, a band that has slowly (over the past few years), contentedly shed its abrasions in search of something slicker and more accessible.

On this album, the band worked with John Feldmann, a producer who has a long history of polishing up rough gems. It starts with the frontman, Kellin Quinn, who has a sweet and piercing voice, forever plaintive, even when he’s shrieking. That means that even this album’s most aggressive moments, like the rousing We Like It Loud, are served with honey. Those moments are few and far between, though. Largely, this strong album — which in places recalls Paramore, another powerful band unafraid of the saccharine — blends tender and anguished in equal measure. Go Go Go, about a foolhardy relationship, bursts with zooming guitars and vocals processed until they gleam: “There’s plenty of time for us to finally get it right/Why don’t we crash and burn tonight?”

Sometimes the lyrics don’t match the energy of the music here, especially Jack Fowler’s guitar. They tend toward the blandly inspirational, with a handful of notable exceptions, like the haunting darkness on Better Off Dead, about pushing back suicidal thoughts, and on The Strays, a heartbreaking song about growing up unloved. “Hubcaps and ashtrays,” Quinn sings, “I was born/But wasn’t raised.”


My Ideal

Glenn Zaleski


A smart young jazz pianist with a mellow gleam in his tone, Glenn Zaleski has thus far made his impression just outside the center spotlight. He’s been a diligent sideman, but not with any artists whose bands typically serve as launching pads.

He finished strong, but not on top, in a pair of prestigious jazz piano competitions in 2011. The two albums that have featured him since were credited to Stranahan Zaleski Rosato, a graceful but leaderless trio with the drummer Colin Stranahan and the bassist Rick Rosato.

All of which makes My Ideal a proper debut for Zaleski, the moment in which he steps fully into the frame. Maybe it says something about him that the album feels so assuredly relaxed, so unconcerned about making a statement or a splash. It’s simply a well-rounded acoustic piano trio record, rooted in a modern language that runs from Bill Evans through Herbie Hancock and Kenny Barron.

Of course that isn’t as easy a target as Zaleski makes it seem. His trio on My Ideal features Dezron Douglas on bass and Craig Weinrib on drums, insightful players bound by a quality of assertive selflessness. The saxophonist Ravi Coltrane makes a cameo, and an implicit endorsement, on his own slippery arrangement of I’m Old-Fashioned.

The subtleties of touch that distinguish Zaleski as a pianist — along with his fluent but unhurried sense of phrase — find a natural showcase in the standard repertoire, as much on a boppish blues like Charlie Parker’s Cheryl as on a songbook chestnut like Nobody Else but Me. He’d do well to avoid a song as inexorably linked to Evans as Make Someone Happy, given his affinities of style; he makes a far better choice with Arietis, a modal charger by Freddie Hubbard, which gives him some breathing room.

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