The RiptideIt seems Mr. Condon has gone out of his way here to cut through the nostalgia and make an album that sounds, gasp, at least semi-modern. This one won’t make grandma do a double take like some of his other stuff, as there are instruments invented in the 20th century pinging and ponging around the edges. It’s not to say that he isn’t still living in another time, but this one feels much brighter and shiny in its antiquity and not like found dusty instruments in a forgotten trunk. Perhaps it’s the more upbeat nature of most of the songs, cleaner production, or just a general lack of many dirges and intentionally foreign-sounding tunes. Maybe that’s it; the thing just feels more genuinely American and less old world Europe. I no longer picture starving peasants, gondolas and handlebar mustaches on Russian strongmen. This is almost verging on a really good version of a John Vanderslice album. At times it’s even downright catchy! There are some great things going on here, and I wish, as I have so many times in the past couple of years, that other artists would drop the bleep-bloop gimmicks and all the nonsense and just make an earnest playing and singing album like this.