Blow This House Down
Anthony Rankin's music often carries a whiff of the '80s -- power balladry, screamy guitar, slick production and arena hooks. The Duquesne music-school grad's last album, for example, featured "Smoke and Mirrors," a very Bon Jovi-esque rocker.
With Blow This House Down, Rankin reaffirms this archaism by opening the Prince Kit: funk grooves propelled by slap bass, saturated electric guitars, spoken interludes, falsetto, innuendo, inflated self-regard, guyliner and curiously precise facial hair.
Like 2007's The Distance, Blow This House Down was produced with Rick Witkowski, with airtight performances, and playful samples and musical punchlines sprinkled throughout. It's impossible to not tap your foot to the funkier numbers, including the title track, "Tempting Reinvention," the Spin Doctors-ish "Perfect Ten" and "Economy of E-Motion." When Rankin plays the lothario, it's uncomfortable, but the beat carries you past quickly enough. "Annie's Room" seems more heartfelt, and "Driving Blind" is an updated power ballad with the message that "no one survives on their own."
Rankin's nostalgia is frequently made explicit, in lines like "Sometimes I think I was born just a little too late" and "I remember when the radio used to play real shit." He even divides the track listing into "side one" and "side two," with little crackles at the start and end to simulate a vinyl record. Overall, it's fun music, if a bit strange to be making in 2010. Sure, I rock The Gold Experience as often as anybody, but these days even Prince would rather be the Pope.
Anthony Rankin CD Release with 28 North, Instrumental Void and MC Ron Placone. 7:30 p.m. Fri., May 14. Fate Lounge, Strip District. $5. 21 and over. 412-918-1753 or www.fatelounge.com