Thursday, February 22, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Review: Yeah Yeah Yeahs' 'Mosquito' is their best overall effort

Art-pop trio the Yeah Yeah Yeahs start with a foundation of distress and build from there. Sometimes there's a small gust of relief blowing through the NYC band's anxious songs, as on 2003 breakout single Maps and its pleading refrain "Wait! They don't love you like I love you!"

But more often than not, their manic energy heightens and swarms, such as on '09's unlikely dance hit Heads Will Roll and its odd synth-punk demand: "Off with your head! Dance 'til your dead!"

On epically minded new album Mosquito, their fourth and finest overall effort, the YYYs' varying degrees of unsettlement are once again juiced by metronomic rock drummer Brian Chase and guitarist Nick Zinner, who wields his instrument like a bug-eyed man in a knife fight. Still, there's no mistaking who the sparking live wire is driving this inventive, infectious crew of misfits: that fascinating worrywart Karen O, arguably the greatest frontwoman of her generation.

For some of you, O is best known as the banshee who joined Trent Reznor for a hair-raising cover of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song on the opening credits of David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. There are times her howl got so high on that incendiary rendition, she made Robert Plant sound like Louis Armstrong.

On Mosquito's first cut and lead single, Sacrilege, O is seemingly subdued, opening with a deceptive mid-range coo ("Fallen for a guy / Who fell down from the sky"). Soon enough, though, Zinner and Chase pierce the balloon and O's vocal takes off in a shrieking panic. Upping the ante even more, the YYYs end Sacrilege with a wailing 20-piece gospel choir coda. And that's just the first three minutes, 50 seconds.

O & Co. ease up on the next song — well, kind of. Subway is slow and uneasy. With rackety train effects tunneling through the moody track, O embraces a neo-torch delivery as she loses her man on the metro, maybe for good. Sans love or security (or at least the facade of each) she fails to recognize herself: "Look at you, whoever you are." When the crowd starts to stare at her, it all enters eerie David Lynch territory. Even with the brakes on, the YYYs can steal your breath.

O started her career as a raven-haired, ripped-fishnets wild child with dangerous mood swings. She's platinum blond now, married, a better dresser. But her uniquely elastic voice, and those moods, continue to thrash with animalistic abandon, from Mosquito's taunting title track to Bowie-esque rumination Slave to '80s New Wave-y These Paths.

Produced by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, each song is layered, and layered again, with headphone effects and sonic surprises (rapper Dr. Octagon on Buried Alive). If there's a complaint it's that Sitek doesn't provoke O into going off the rails enough.

Still, you can't complain about the album's finale of Despair and Wedding Song, the prettiest 10 minutes in the YYYs' catalog, a gauzy sea of crescendoes, rippling guitar and femme fatale Karen O reaching through the haze for some relief from this nervous life. Is it wrong to hope she never quite finds it?

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected]

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Review: Mary J. Blige, fresh off Oscar nominations, unleashes soulful fury on Amalie Arena in Tampa

Review: Mary J. Blige, fresh off Oscar nominations, unleashes soulful fury on Amalie Arena in Tampa

It took 10 songs and a solid half hour of furious funk for Mary J. Blige to stop strutting and dancing to sit and sermonize on matters of faith and fidelity."I'm going to say it for you, because I'm a little crazy," she told nearly 6,500 fans Wednesd...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Imagine Dragons coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Imagine Dragons coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Let's be honest: Imagine Dragons are probably the most successful rock band of this decade.They're not the only group to debut in the 2010s who can also headline arenas, but they're definitely the only one to have such enormous crossover success on a...
Published: 02/21/18
This week’s top concerts: Willie Nelson, Los Lobos, Clearwater Sea-Blues and more

This week’s top concerts: Willie Nelson, Los Lobos, Clearwater Sea-Blues and more

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Willie NelsonI’m sure that when Willie Nelson had to postpone his recent Clearwater concert after a bout with the flu, you, like me, took the news well, spitting through clenched teeth: "OH NO YOU DON’T, 2018. YOU WILL NOT TAKE WIL...
Published: 02/21/18
Spin Doctors’ Chris Barron talks touring at 50, being the ‘Two Princes’ guy and more

Spin Doctors’ Chris Barron talks touring at 50, being the ‘Two Princes’ guy and more

Go back and read Rolling Stone's 1993 cover story on the Spin Doctors — yep, that's a thing that actually happened — and the first quote from singer Chris Barron jumps out."I don't want to be 50 years old and be out on the road with my vo...
Published: 02/21/18
Hernando symphony tackles old and new favorites

Hernando symphony tackles old and new favorites

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Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/21/18
SoundBytes: Coheed and Cambria, Taking Back Sunday, Dua Lipa, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia and more

SoundBytes: Coheed and Cambria, Taking Back Sunday, Dua Lipa, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia and more

— Prog-punk and emo will meet this summer when Coheed and Cambria and Taking Back Sunday embark on a summer tour that stops at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on July 7. The Story So Far will open. Tickets are $29.50 and up. Click here...
Published: 02/20/18
Snoop Dogg, T.I. to headline inaugural Halftime Music Festival in Tampa

Snoop Dogg, T.I. to headline inaugural Halftime Music Festival in Tampa

Are you ready for an all-new hip-hop festival in Tampa?Snoop Dogg and T.I. are scheduled to headline the inaugural Halftime Music Festival on May 5 in the North Lot of Raymond James Stadium. Also on the bill: Karol G, Baby Rasta y Gringo and Brytiago...
Published: 02/20/18
SoundBytes: Glass Animals, Katt Williams, Natalie Prass, Lee Ann Womack and more

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— British alt-rock outfit Glass Animals is coming to the Ritz Ybor on July 24. Knox Fortune will open. Click here.— Katt Williams is returning to the USF Sun Dome on April 14. Tickets are $49 and up. Click here.— It's been a while s...
Published: 02/19/18
2018 Safety Harbor SongFest lineup: Fantastic Negrito, Josh Ritter, more

2018 Safety Harbor SongFest lineup: Fantastic Negrito, Josh Ritter, more

Folk, blues, even a little bit of rock: The 2018 Safety Harbor SongFest has a little something for everyone.Organizers on Sunday night announced the lineup for Safety Harbor's fifth annual festival, which returns April 7 to Safety Harbor Waterfront P...
Published: 02/19/18
Review: Kelsea Ballerini gets close to fans, digs into ‘Unapologetically’ at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Review: Kelsea Ballerini gets close to fans, digs into ‘Unapologetically’ at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Kelsea Ballerini has a story to tell. It's the story of the last three crazy years of her life, from a breakup to the Grammys to a marriage and all the "life, growing up, self-discovery" in between.If you heard her new album Unapologetically, it's a ...
Published: 02/17/18