Jeremy Jay – Splash

Rating: ★★★★☆

2010 is going to be a busy year for Jeremy Jay.  His first album of the year, Splash, is just being released, while there is another album slated for release later in the year, not to mention his work on the movie Belle Epine.  Will all the work distract his natural knack for writing amazingly introspective pop numbers?  By the sounds of this album, Jeremy is still going strong, and he shows no signs of slowing down.

JJ begins the album with “As You Look Over the City,” which one can assume is his own personal narrative about his recent move to London, demonstrating his ability to approach the subject matter from third-person.  His guitar never seems over-bearing, and the accompaniment by his band always seems perfectly fitting to his deep croon.

While many will accuse Jeremy of staying in the same vein as his last two albums, there are definitely differences.  Point of evidence one: “It Happened Before Our Time.”  This is the first time he’s really messing with his vocal delivery, changing the pitch and the tone, both going a long way to evoke the mood of the song.  When his voice lightly echos in the background of the song, you can tell that he’s really pushing the boundaries of what he can do.  Then you have the second piece of evidence, ” Splash,” which has a quicker paced guitar line, sort of reminiscent of a more nostalgic version of The Thermals.  All the while his voice lands quietly atop his music, as it always seems to do.

One of the best things about Jeremy Jay is that while he sounds so familiar, he definitely has a taste all his own.  You can see his constant form of wondering, especially in the way that he writes his lyrics.  Take, for example, “Someday Somewhere,” where the chorus itself evokes that sense of search, or that sense of longing for something. He’s often in his own world, dancing around, using that speak-sing approach that was made known by his mentor of sorts, Calvin Johnson.  You combine that approach with his lyrics and you are left wondering, but in an involved sort of way, as listeners should be.

Everything about Splash really does sound familiar, but as the album takes a turn near the end, starting with “Why is This Feeling So Strong,” you get the feeling that Jeremy Jay is about to make his move; at times it almost feels as if he’s about to let loose a power chord to just blow you away, yet as always, he refrains.   He’s got one more album coming out this year, and the way he’s pushing his sound, who knows exactly where that record will end up, but we can only hope that he continues to put out consistently enjoyable collections of songs such as this.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/01-As-You-Look-Over-The-City.mp3]

Download: Jeremy Jay – As You Look Over The City [MP3]

Free Sampler From Kill Rock Stars

Kill Rock Stars record label are jumping on board the free online sampler band wagon this week with one of their very own digital offerings full of some tasty music.  Older tunes from Elliot Smith and The Decemberists are mixed in with newer stuff The Thermals and Horse Feathers.  With 21 tracks in all, a download is definitely worth your time.  This top song from last year, brought to you by The Thermals, is one of many jams on the sampler.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/the-thermals-now-we-can-see.mp3]

Download: The Thermals – Now We Can See [MP3]

The Thermals – Now We Can See

now Rating: ★★★★☆

Ever since they first released More Parts Per Million The Thermals have stuck pretty close to home as far as their sound goes, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  On Now We Can See, the band’s fourth album, we finally get the benefit of listening to the culmination of years on the road and in the studio honing their skill.

Finally the band seems to have reached their apex as far as maturity goes, and it this is probably the most complete album the band has been able to put together.  Singer, Hutch, seems to have a great deal more control over his voice in comparison to years past, and the clarity with which he sings allows for the cleverly composed lyrics to shine through.  This has always been one of the band’s more overshadowed attributes, but those that have been listening all along will surely be aware of Hutch’s prowess as a wordsmith.

Much will be made about the somewhat gothic approach, as the lyrics tend to show narrators looking back upon life from the beyond; still, the focus seems to look back with a sense of nostalgic accomplishment.  The lyrics don’t seem to look back with a sense of resentment or disappointment, but rather reflect a coming to terms with the life one has led, which is probably the best way to approach such morbid subjects.

Of course, most listeners will immediately flock to to the infectious pop single of “Now We Can See” with it’s “oh way oh whoa” chorus of catchiness.  This is probably one of the better songs the band has put together, but we all know the band can churn out at least five or six solid tracks per album.  What other tunes will listeners identify with you ask?

“At the Bottom of the Sea” is surely a track that exhibits the more mature side of songwriting that the group has taken on in recent years, as the song bares no resemblance to the brashness that accompanies the rest of the album as a whole.  It’s as close to a ballad as the band has come, but it still shines with Hutch’s voice bursting through at the appropriate moments.  “Liquid In, Liquid Out” is another shocking song, settling in at just under two minutes.  This is the most simplistic power-pop the band has produced to date, and the clean quality demonstrates the ability the band has to go off into different ranges.

Fortunately for us, The Thermals seem to be at their best when they are having a blast.  Catching their live show, you will immediately pick up on the shared energy between the members in the group.  This is the first album where you can really hear the vibrance of the band come through from the studio.  You can picture the band having a blast in the studio, and we’re all better off letting them have fun and create such joyful listening experiences.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/09-liquid-in-liquid-out.mp3]

Download: The Thermals – Liquid In, Liquid Out [MP3]

New Tunes from The Thermals

thermIn yet another wonderful day in the music industry, we get to hear another new track from yet another anticipated album in 2009. This time, we bring you the newest single from The Thermals, who recently signed to Kill Rock Stars. Their new album, Now We Can See, is set to come your way this April. Enjoy this tune. 

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/the-thermals-now-we-can-see.mp3]

Download: The Thermals – Now We Can See [MP3]

1 2