Neon Blonde – Chandeliers in the Savannah
Dim Mak Records
1. Black Cactus Killers
2. Crystal Beaches Never Turned Me On
3. Chandeliers and Vines
4. Princess Skullface Sings
5. New Detroit
7. Love Hounds
8. Dead Mellotron
9. Cherries in Slow Motion
10. The Future is a Mesh Stallion
11. Wings Made out of Noise
I’m not proud of this, but I’m going to be honest… I’ve never really gotten into a Blood Brothers record. I’ve listened to the band and heard their praises sung over an array of mediums but regrettably I’ve never taken the time to sit down and submerse myself in any of their albums. However, like almost all great bands these days, the Blood Brothers have spawned an intriguing new side project: Neon Blonde. Neon Blonde features Brothers’ vocalist Johnny Whitney and drummer Mark Gajadhar and is promotionally recommended for fans of David Bowie, Brian Eno, and Freddy Mercury…. What!? Glam-pop from the 70’s and 80’s? Well yes… kind of. Neon Blonde is an openly creative outlet for these spastically sassy rockers. Johnny Whitney has not left his sporadically convulsive coos behind, he remains chirping away with that idiosyncratic frenzy. For the most part, the urgent and frantic nature of Blood Brothers still presides over each track but here we see a rather dancy and glorified art rock vision, complete with synth drum beats, keyboard elements, and dark melodies abound.
For the most part the record is very impressive. Nobody does it like these guys, and this album only solidifies that statement. “Crystal Beach Never Turned Me On,” the second song on the album is held up by an old school sounding hip hop beat, until haunting piano scales take over bringing on a wave of B-Horror movie darkness, and then exercising a tango of a chorus. Believe it or not, the following number, “Chandeliers and Vines,” actually leaps into a qualified piano ballad. For several instances Whitney actually drops the screechy edge of his vocals and outright croons atop classic piano delivery. The song is very charming, and it is great to hear this eclectic risk tasking which results in the most accessible and endearing tune on the record. Fear not, tracks like “Princess Skullface Sings,” and “Love Hounds,” reveal those grungy, churning, menacing guitars, that rub you the wrong way, but in all the right ways. And still yet you’ve got the soaring digital edge of, “Wings Made out of Noise,” and a full on dance-club hit under the title of “The Future is a Mesh Stallion.” This bountiful tracklisting seems to cover so many designations of the modern rock spectrum yet somehow remains clearly a unified effort, never losing the focus that makes them Neon Blonde.
While I am a fan of Whitney’s voice and the experimental music on Chandeliers in the Savannah, it’s a stylistic sound that one has to be in the mood for, and is far from immediately approachable. This is no easy listening, or vaguely stimulating background music. Neon Blonde is a challenging and free spirited duo of musicians who took the CD and used it as an easel to paint a landscape of guitar textures, vintage electronics, and tearing shouts. If you were previously not a fan of the Blood Brothers, you won’t find much to change your mind here. Probably the definition of a love or hate sound, those with already existing passion for the Brothers will most likely revel in this fun and more light hearted branch off; either way I’d recommend at least taking a preliminary listen. Maybe today’s the day to insert a jagged contradiction in to your run of the mill playlist, and have your world turned upside down as your toe taps to a new beat. The hectic beat of Neon Blonde.