The Constantines, ‘Kensington Heights’ (Arts&Crafts)
Running Jeff Tweedy’s rasp through power-chord guitar fuzz should be a can’t-miss career move; and with Wilco “maturing,” Toronto’s Constantines are trying to ease into that niche. At least that seems to be the theory. In practice, Kensington Heights is a mixed bag of aesthetically correct placeholders: “Our Age” and “Life or Death” offer twangy verses but no payoff hooks. “Hard Feelings” and “Credit River” are much better bets, grungy foot-stompers with sculpted, hard-rock arrangements, while “New King,” powered by simmering organ, fist-punching percussion, and a phrase nicked from X (“It’s kiss or kill”), nearly lives up to its lofty title.