There is a lot present in JR Ewing’s style that I feel has its precedent in other famed acted. The first track on “Maelstrom” matches with the title of the album perfectly. The brutal guitar and drum interaction that happens during the average second of this track is nothing to scoff at; the inclusion of an acoustic guitar at points bring the band into an At The Drive-In meets Fugazi type of vibe. The band may only be going for a little under four minutes on this track but the fullness of the arrangements on “Maelstrom” is at such a level that the compositions sometimes feel three or four times as long as what they really are.
The tracks are compositions; individuals lose all sense of time and direction when they put on “Maelstrom”. The band settles down into a much more “normal” type of sound for the disc’s second track “For We Are Dead”. The vocals on “For We Are Dead” sound like a mixture of Ozzy Osbourne and Perry Ferrell; the instrumentation keeps this full and chaotic sound but cleans things up to provide a much more unified sound than what was previous on “Change is Nothing (Everything Is)”. This t rack is even shorter (it does not even make it to three and a half minutes) and yet JR Ewing makes this short track into an “Aida” all its own.
“Floodlight” is a qualitatively different track for JR Ewing, as the band eschews a lot of the complexity that has marked previous tracks and instead decided (at least for the opening minute) to go into something much more simple and angular. This angular sound is much more in the vein of acts like Franz Ferdinand, but is not directly tied to them because the song is still based off the JR Ewing framework of orchestral epics. The simple parts of the track are just movements in what is a much longer and fuller composition; the band knows what exactly they are doing with this track and intentionally do everything on this disc. There is little room for error; JR Ewing does not let anything happen by chance. JR Ewing finish off their disc and individuals are changed by the time the album ends. The band succeeds in providing interesting music to their fanbase, and I only wonder how they are going to top the music on “Maelstrom”. It will be a daunting goal, for sure.
Top Tracks: Take A Hint, Floodlight
JR Ewing – Maelstrom / 2006 Dim Mak / 10 Tracks / http://www.thejrewing.com / http://www.dimmak.com / Reviewed 15 July 2006