Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Review: The JAC - Faux Pas

If there is one thing that pop music can handle it is a D.I.Y. ethos. From garage bands with a rudimentary grasp of two and a half chords to various revivalists who seek to recreate a sound from a previous era, we pretty much got it covered.

One of the more cherished sub-genres is the one man band. Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything or any of the Richard X Heyman records give testimony to the power of imagination and multi-track audio recording. You'll have to add Joe Algeri's The JAC to this brotherhood with the release of Faux Pas which can lay claim to being one of the quirkier efforts of the year.

The analogies do not necessarily flow easily here. Oh, you can pick up a hint of Ram era Paul McCartney here or Smiley Smile era Beach Boys there, but the overall effect is something all together different. For example, a track like the rocking "Persistent Man" probably owes more to the early 2000's Tim Finn albums than anything else, which says something about the kind of weirdness (and good taste) we are dealing with here.

"Time Machine" takes a trip back to the 60's and invites us along to have a blast in the past....but, hey, if you already have a time machine why not use it to go forward in time as well? Well, that is what the next track, "Future Computers" in fact does. (And who wouldn't want to have a computer that wouldn't become obsolete in the time it takes to drive from the store to one's home?)

This isn't the only point on the record where Algeri has fun with the conventions of record making. The opening track cheerfully gives us the pluses and minuses for someone who says "I Play All The Instruments". The track "I'm A Glass of Orange Juice" is every bit as odd as its sounds...well, actually its a bit odder as it ends with an unexpected invocation to Jesus Christ. I'll admit I didn't see that coming. Oh, and at any given moment Joe can decide to sing in a different language. It's just the way he rolls.

This kind of playfulness is both an attraction and a potential distraction, and really a lot will depend upon one's openness to this kind of silliness. Mileages will vary greatly I expect. I enjoyed it, but, then again, my wife will look at me, roll her eyes and say "You would."

Still, I have to admire an album that can say "Ramona the dog is humping Ginger the cat. What'll I tell the kids?"

That's a real good question.

Grade: B/B+

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