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Blue Light City

(Mason Jar; US: 19 Jul 2011; UK: Import)

Not enough grit, far too much gloss

New York City’s Turbine are a four-piece who seem in thrall to the history of classic pop-rock. Unfortunately, this takes them down some fairly uninteresting byways. Album opener “War of 9161 (The Pledge)” could be a Genesis tribute, with its lopsided time signatures and shimmering swathes of organ. Follow-up “No Explanation” starts off a bit grittier and more convincing, but sadly the band soon leaves that vibe behind in favor of syrupy harmonized vocals and an overarching sheen of slickness. There’s far too much forgettable 1970s AOR here and not nearly enough crunch.

Even the bouncy pseudo-funk of “Members Only” can’t leave the slick behind, and the rest of the album suffers from this as well, notwithstanding the Band-esque stomper “Eddy the Sea”, probably the best song of the bunch. “Behind These Walls” and “Blue Light City” both strive for something more, as their seven-minute-plus lengths attest, but both suffer from forgettable tunes and an overabundance of gloss. (That said, “Blue Light City” is by far the better, and thrashier, song.) That’s the band in a nutshell. After repeated listens, you’ll absorb plenty of surface sheen, but you’d be hard pressed to discern an identity.


DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.

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