I'm one of those people who excitedly paws each new Tommy Keene album, brimming with optimism, wondering how close it will come to the Places That Are Gone EP or the Songs From The Film LP, both of which came out more than 20 years ago. A few releases back, I sadly resigned myself to the fact that Keene would never again match those high-water marks. But that's OK. With each new disc, longtime followers get at least a few pieces of stunningly beautiful power-pop moments to add to our collection. That's what happens with Crashing The Ether as well.
The album starts with the mighty drums of longtime collaborator John Richardson on "Black & White New York". Guitar and bass fight it out sonically, trying to serve as worthy complements to meander around those drums. Keene's wonderfully familiar nasal vocals come next; by the time the catchy chorus arrives, old-school fans might wonder: Could this be the one?
There are other highlights, including "Warren In The '60s", a nostalgia trip focusing on a young Warren Beatty, which melodically evokes memories of Keene's "Paper Words And Lies". And there is "Wishing", a sweet tune featuring Jesse Valenzuela of the Gin Blossoms on background vocals.
Eventually, Crashing The Ether bogs down amid lumbering tempos and hollow lyrics. Keene, who produced and played almost all the instruments, does manage to capture incredible drum sounds and guitar tones throughout.