This is exactly the kind of themeless I love. It's super smooth with a number of fun entries and misleading clues. I don't know that there are any answers which are so new or fresh, but the solve was fun and the flow was reasonably nice.
My first entry was AVE, but that led nowhere, so I moved to the SW, where figuring out 45A: Unembellished type (SANSSERIF) opened up the area reasonably quickly. SEEKER (along with "bludger" and "sweeper") have entered into the lingo as reasonable words because of Harry Potter. Much better than your run-of-the-mill -ER word. I also enjoyed 66A: Rumble in the night (SNORE). I chuckled.
I had a little difficulty at 53A: Draft picks? (OXEN), where I put in alEs. The actual answer is so much more satisfying, both because it's less commonly seen in the puzzle, and because it's a plural without -S. It also allowed 43D: Collection of favorites, of a sort (MIXTAPE), which was so satisfying to figure out.
62A: Expert on the drums? (EARDOCTOR) did not fool me for a second. I must have had my Saturday clue reading HATS on. This stack was really excellent, with 65A: Get through lines quickly (SPEEDREAD), and the truly excellent PETSOUNDS. Number one was always going to be Sgt. Pepper's, but I think you could make a strong argument for those two albums to be reversed. Thoughts?
|Note the mace|
I came back up to the NE which fell once I had RASH and SAKE in place. The stack here is not quite as lovely as the SW one. 1A: Double-digit figure? (PEACESIGN) gets an A from me, for the excellent clue, the great answer, and the importance of the sentiment. 15A: Spider producer (ALFAROMEO) was probably a gimme for some solvers, but not this one. LEFTALONE is somewhat blah.
Who knew a Loonie had ELEVEN sides? That makes it a hendecagon.
Finally, the NE is the least satisfying corner. I'm not sure I agree with NTHPOWER as a "high degree of proof." Otherwise you've got URE, which is probably my least favorite answer in the puzzle, and the Britishism PANTO.
But overall very nice puzzle.