Big One

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When it comes to alternative pop/rock, there are different types of eccentricity. There is an aloof, hipper-than-thou sort of eccentricity -- the type that says, "You'll never be as hip as I am, and you couldn't possibly comprehend what I'm doing." But there is also a much friendlier sort of eccentricity, and that is where Condor is coming from on their debut album, A Big One. Heavily influenced by the goofier side of late-'70s/'80s new wave, this San Francisco-based alternative pop/rock trio thrives on weirdness but always does so in a highly infectious way -- much like Devo, the Talking Heads, and the B-52's back in the day. But Condor isn't trying to be a carbon copy of any of those bands. For one thing, their sound has a darker edge; Condor has also learned a thing or two from New Order and Depeche Mode, although they aren't flat-out gloomy. With Condor, that dark edge never comes at the expense of relentlessly catchy grooves -- tunes like "Suntan," "Gleaming the Cube," and "Pokerface" manage to be dark, goofy, strange, and infectious all at the same time. A Big One doesn't use strangeness to scare people away and tell them how uncool they are; Condor's grooves pull the listener right in and make him/her want to be a part of the oddball insanity. Despite all those '80s influences, the Northern California threesome isn't an exact replica of bands from the new wave era -- there are enough '90s/2000s elements in play to keep Condor from sounding totally retro on this engaging CD.

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