Blinker the Star – August Everywhere

Blinker the Star
August Everywhere

A couple of years ago someone heard my band play live and suggested I pick up this group’s previous album, A Borgoise Kitten. I did and was mildly flattered: The songs were good and catchy, and Blinker the Star obviously know how to write a good pop song or two. However, the album leans a little too heavy on the Pixies scale, and although good, is not really remarkable. ’97 turned into ’98 and ’99, and I eventually forgot about this band. A few months ago I found this CD in the used bin and decided to give it a shot. Let me tell you, I was not prepared for what this band is capable of.
Those who expect to hear your typical big guitar “alternative rock” sound will hear nothing of the sort. This is a whole other musical universe Jordan Zadorozny (the songwriter and central figure of the band) takes the listener to with August Everywhere. Does anyone remember AM rock radio? For those of you in your mid to late 20’s, perhaps you will understand where I’m coming from; When I was about five years old my dad would have to wake up for work at 4:30 in the morning, which meant he would set the alarm for 3:30. He was a sound sleeper, so sometimes the radio would play for a long time before he woke up. I was not a sound sleeper, so I would often hear AM rock radio at ungodly hours of the morning from down the hall. You could expect to hear ELO’s “Evil Woman,” “Blinded By The Light,” (the Manfred Mann version, mind you!) Cristopher Cross, and if you were lucky, “Philadelphia Freedom” from Elton John. Being unable to sleep until he left, I soon knew most of the songs I would hear. Has anyone else had this experience, or am I just a freak?
After growing older and going through years of punk, metal, and every other genre that can still be called Rock, I never imagined that this sound would still register in my musical consciousness as strongly as it does. Blinker the Star has used this long forgotten sound to give their songs a cinematic quality they might not have had otherwise. Lush strings, multi- layered vocals, bubbling keyboards, and powerful piano playing give the songs a thick, impressive sound with just the right amount of overproduction. Lyrically, the theme of this album is change: Changing seasons are compared to life changing events, and the familiarity of this sound seems to be comforting to the author when his life has gone so wrong. Former Failure drummer Kelli Scott discards the heavy- handed metal playing he is known for and instead lays down parts that are soulful and sometimes downright funky.
This is not some lame rehash of late 70’s/ early 80’s ear candy, mind you: Zadrozny has delivered some real gems that actually outshine their AM rock ancestors. “Pretty Pictures” sounds like ELO and Joe Jackson dismantling a Superchunk song. “Crazy Eyes” is a nod to 80’s- era Genesis with some Pixies thrown in and Phil Collins thrown out, and somehow it all ends up sounding unique. This might not sound appealing, and it may even take a few spins, but Blinker will grow on you. It may even take you back to that place you were when you were just a little shaver.
The album was produced by Ken Andrews of Failure, who brought his distinctive backup vocals and talent for meaty- thick sounds to the table without bringing to mind the “M” word (which of course is metal.) This sounds like nothing he has worked on before: I’ll bet he was jealous that Failure was unable to make this type of record. Chances are you will be jealous of Blinker the Star too, because this album is destined to be a classic. In the same class as last year’s The Soft Bulletin from the Flaming Lips, this album is proof that every now and then the major labels release something worthwhile.