Album reviews: Craig Leon, Naytronix, Matt Martians, Kate Bollinger, and Crumb

"Restful on the surface but restive underneath," Crumb has a new full-length album. Publicity image. “Restful on the surface but restive underneath,” Crumb has a new full-length album. Publicity image.

Craig Leon

Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 2: The Canon (RVNG Intl.)

Craig Leon produced the classic debuts of the Ramones and Blondie before covering some classical stuff himself (key title: Bach to Moog). On his ’80s new age albums Nommos and Visiting, Leon imagined the vernacular music of extraterrestrials, presenting it as slow, synthetic, and sweeping. (Well, who knows?) He revives the concept on the mostly instrumental Anthology, picking up right where he left off. A couple of tracks driven by minimal percussion patterns suggest a new age version of Can’s “ethnological forgery” series; the rest of the album, dominated by droning washes of keyboards, has a quiet tension, like it’s watching the skies for distant lightning. ***1/2


Air (BatCave)

Naytronix is Nate Brenner, bassist and co-producer for Tune-Yards. Brenner also helped Merrill Garbus score Sorry to Bother You, and Air might also benefit from a movie to pick up the slack, as Brenner’s splattering, Ratatat-derived dance rock doesn’t quite gel. Not that there isn’t potential in the rubbery bass lines or in Brenner’s vocals, which he never oversells as he flickers through various affects: a benumbed Lil Peep; a Bowie fan mirror-singing; Arthur Russell with less soul. But there’s nothing in the way of rhythmic or melodic hooks, and Brenner’s banal bummer lyrics could have been transcribed from a bathroom wall. **1/2

Matt Martians

The Last Party (3qtr)

An overlooked member of Odd Fu-
ture and The Internet, Matt Martians explains his new album as a kiss-off aimed both at his ex and at music bizzers clinically scrutinizing his artistic moves. But The Last Party is way more provisional than triumphant, as Martians mumbles sticky-note-sized analyses and affirmations: “I laid down all my pride / You were not thankful”; “I’ve got new boots on my feet, baby.” Still, the muted, jazz-tinged tracks have an effortless, muzzy charm, as does Martians him-
self; I gotta pull for the guy. ***1/2

Kate Bollinger

I Don’t Wanna Lose
(Kate Bollinger)

Meantime, in happy local developments there’s Charlottesville native and UVA student Kate Bollinger’s
I Don’t Wanna Lose, an assured EP of laid-back bedroom indie tinged with tropicália. It’s a charmer, as Bollinger’s relaxed, nimble voice weaves artful lines through jazzy guitar chords thickened with tremolo (courtesy of fellow ‘Hoo John Trainum). Bollinger brings a slightly wounded but wizened Rickie Lee Jones vibe to standouts “Untitled” and “Candy,” as she navigates the shifting terrain where friendship and romance meet, retreat, and repeat. Feels like we’ll be bragging on the homegrown Bollinger real soon, and for a while. On June 22, Bollinger plays the Southern with Gold Connections and Goodnight Daniel. ****


Jinx (Rough Trade)

Straight outta Medford, Crumb formed at Tufts before relocating to NYC in 2016 and releasing two EPs with the help of Richmond’s Citrus City Records (hurrah!). Both generated online buzz, and Crumb jumped to the legendary indie Rough Trade for their debut full-length. But the sound on Jinx is just a hair more pumped up than the EPs, and Crumb is still Crumb, doubling down on dark, beaty psychedelic pop and Lila Ramani’s sad-ghost vocals—fans of Broadcast might get misty. Restful on the surface but restive underneath and downright groovy at times (“Nina”), Jinx plays like a weird but cool dream. ****