Diesel Park West release 9th release

“Let It Melt”, the first and title track from Diesel Park West’s ninth studio recording, serves notice this venerable UK outfit is showing no signs of slowing down. Thirty plus years in the music world are defined by impressive peaks and challenging fallows, but Diesel Park West kept the flame burning throughout thanks to the bonds of shared experience and a passion for their craft. Let It Melt is their first release on a new label, Dallas based Palo Santo, and the first song announces their enthusiasm for a new start with the same raucous edge often characterizing the band’s strongest material. Vocalist, chief songwriter, and guitarist John Butler commands your attention on this track.

WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_Park_West

“No Return Fare” mixes the band’s direct rock guitar approach with acoustic rhythm guitar laying down meaty chords under the surface of the mix. Butler goes in for social-oriented songwriting at various points during the course of Let It Melt, but he never has a heavy hand for such moments and manages to even temper it with a wry appreciation of the difficulties we face in modern life.

“Everybody’s Nuts” has a great title that gets right to its point and the songwriting backs it up all the way. It’s Butler’s bemused and incredulous take on dealing with people but it doesn’t have a nihilistic bent – he finds humor it and the song’s arrangement gives it a dramatic quality that’s sure to engage audiences. The guitar work from Butler and Rich Barton rates among the best on Let It Melt. The humor carries over into the next track “Living in the UK” but, despite centering the song lyrics on what it’s like living in Modern England, American listeners can relate to this track as well. It has a blues influenced tilt, like much of the band’s material, but remains warm and inviting all the while.

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/DieselParkWest/

They turn up the heat to full on boogie with the track “Bombs Away” and Butler’s impassioned vocal more than keeps up with the energetic pace. Barton and Butler are an outstanding guitar team, but the rhythm section of bassist Geoff Beavan and drummer Rob Morris really stand out here. Diesel Park West move much closer to the blues on the album’s ninth and tenth songs, “You Got the Whole Thing Wrong” and “Across this Land” respectively, but there’s more outright humor heard in the latter tune than the former. Harmonica and piano play prominent musical roles in “You Got the Whole Thing Wrong” and it’s another song that seems ideal for live performance.

“Across this Land” has a strong blues influence as well with acoustic slide guitar built into the track and it underlines the strong vocal relationship between Butler and Barton – the whole band is important, without question, but these two seem to share a special musical bond that you hear recurring throughout the release. It’s a bit of a cliché to call Diesel Park West survivors – they have continued all these years because of commitment and talent, not good fortune. You should think of them instead as grizzled and tough. They’ve shrugged off the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and sound as connected to what made them pursue their musical dreams as they did during their long ago 1980’s heyday. Let It Melt testifies to that fact and then some.

DISCOGS: https://www.discogs.com/artist/288121-Diesel-Park-West

Kim Muncie

Smomid releases Pyramidi Scheme LP

URL: https://smomid.com/about/

Smomid’s Pyramidi Scheme is the latest electronic-themed release from guitarist Nick Demopoulos and his most defiant release yet. I use the word defiant, but it isn’t aggression. His defiance, instead, manifests itself as a resolute refusal to give more than passing acknowledgment to conventional musical structures and instrumentation. Smomid, instead, prefers to follow the road less taken. There are some tracks recorded for Pyramidi Scheme with familiar sounding elements, even melodies, and compelling percussion tracks delivered via technology rather than conventional drum kits. His experience as a respected guitarist gives the album’s ten tracks a solid grounding in fundamentals which gives him the license to venture far afield from those time-tested standards.

“Message to the Moai” is one of the album’s more nominally conventional moments. It isn’t a warm inviting piece, but it does have a familiar approach built around a central melody Smomid uses as a platform for extending the possibilities of such structures. Demopoulos is never content taking a straight or linear approach to music composition and following his instincts plays a pivotal role in how these compositions develop. His bent towards improvisation likely means that no two performances of these tracks will sound alike and “Message to the Moai” is no exception.

“Ziggurat” is one of the album’s most imposing moments and, while never busy, applies unrelenting pressure on listeners early on. The performance is reminiscent in some ways of what you might hear on the soundtrack for a horror film – dread and danger seem to lurk around every sonic corner and you never know when Demopoulos may pull the rug out from under listeners. It is an interesting, but never comfortable, listening experience. There isn’t quite the same sense of foreboding defining the following cut “Pyramid of the Sun”, but it pushes an unsettled tone nonetheless. It brings a strong ambient influence together with energetic percussive swaths of computer notes. Demopoulos weaves these varied threads into a complementary presentation.

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/Smomid

“Mountain of Light” has the same kind of approach expressed in a different fashion. It pairs well with “Pyramid of the Sun” without repeating it but has a weaker ambient sound mixing in with the electronic motifs. Smomid offers listeners some respite from the hard-edged electronica with the track “Gate of the Sun” – instead of an uncompromising electronic attack, the performance has a more melancholy color and gives listeners a chance to breathe. Demopoulos moves the album back in a darker direction with “The Watchers”. This track invokes the same looming sense of disaster shaping the earlier track “Ziggurat” and has an extended running time to help it realize its aims.

“Age of Leo” brings Pyramidi Scheme to a close underlining Demopoulos’ understanding of an album’s need for dynamic diversity. It has much of the same relaxed texture we hear with the earlier song “Gate of the Sun” but there are more layers here and a higher musicality any listener will recognize. I am impressed with this release though I admit some cuts wowed me much more than others. Smomid’s Pyramidi Scheme is one of 2019’s most unusual releases.

Kim Muncie

GIadora releases “Twisted”

Giadora has made quite an impression on the local Los Angeles scene without ever embracing the attendant eccentricities often defining the pop/dance music style. Her first singe “Twisted” shows she is far from some cookie performer and, instead, rates as one of the more fully rounded talents active in the pop music world today. Despite a beginning in Los Angeles venues that featured Giadora alone with nothing but her acoustic guitar and vocals, “Twisted” instead offers a well worked out take on what her singer/songwriter material will sound like when you adorn it with the high sheen shine electronic touches provide. It gives the track a level of urgency it might lack in other forms while never cheapening the overall presentation.

“Twisted” does have something important to say. The lyrics contain a mature commentary about an unhealthy relationship that manifests its toxicity through lies and treachery. Giadora communicates the situation in intelligent, plain-spoken language that connects with listeners and, in most cases, packs the same well-honed wallop we hear from the music. Nothing is overcooked with this track. Giadora maintains the right temperature with the lyrics and music alike and never tries overwhelming the listener. The lyrics are particularly pointed, as they should be, during the chorus and it brings everything to a satisfying peak.

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/track/4LgBeM3hCx1CHH9wMZfX6o?si=vAiRHX41RpSPLMoQnW2xMg

The track has a little sleight of hand at first going for it. It initially starts out hinting at being something more self-consciously than what it will become with its dramatic wash of synths and electronic sound, but the track soon establishes itself in earnest as a mid-tempo dance number. It is reliant on electronic accompaniment to some degree, but groove rules the day once “Twisted” takes off. The bass and drum contributions are essential to this and reverberate throughout much of the tune.

There are a couple of well-timed breaks during the song that are never extended but, instead, have the desired effect of “reloading” the track before it falls back into the groove. This is going to be a song that plays well both in your own home, car, earbuds, and on the dance floor. I am impressed by Giadora’s obvious ability for crafting a song with enormous commercial appeal but, as well, a personal statement embedded within its music. This is a rare balancing act many modern pop performers have neither the courage nor talent to attempt.

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/giadoraa

“Twisted” is her first release, but Giadora sounds like an old hand at this art and the veteran instincts she brings to making the song work is a testament to the hard work and discipline that has shaped her talents as a composer and performer. This debut release announces her as a talent demanding to be taken seriously and the singles to follow, in my estimation, will only solidify her claim to being one of the most talent newcomers to emerge on the pop stage for quite some time. “Twisted” gives us a look at who she is and gives us some entertaining music that spurs our bodies to move.

Kim Muncie

Nocturnal Blonde release Still Gushing (LP)

Soft vocal harmonies adorn the lush opening bars of the surreal acoustic ballad “Almost an Angel,” and while their boldly evocative textures are all the more pronounced thanks to a brilliant delivery from singer Rachel Adams, they represent but a sliver of the unfiltered emotionality that listeners will discover when browsing the tracklist of Still Gushing, the first studio album from Nocturnal Blonde. Nocturnal Blonde was formed with the mission of shedding light on the ongoing opioid crisis in the United States, and specifically to tell stories inspired from the life of Athens stalwart Richie Williams’ brother, Dave (cowriter of Still Gushing), who came close to losing his life in a tragic overdose not too long ago. In songs like “Almost an Angel,” the sharply poetic “Flesh,” rollicking title track and short but utterly crushing “Oh, D,” Nocturnal Blonde provide us a perspective on life through the lens of addiction, and more explicitly, the ways that it affects everyone around it, that has never been presented in an American alternative record before now. Still Gushing is both guttural in its blunt emissions and gorgeous in its melodic stylization, and personally I consider it to be one of the most important releases to come out of Athens, Georgia in 2019.

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/nocturnalblondeband/

“Smart Heart,” the driving force behind Nocturnal Blonde’s debut extended play, gets the tracklist rolling with a haunting stomp that reverberates into the ethers long after the music has stopped. “Blown Away” wastes no time in sweeping us right off of our feet in the ashes of its compositional predecessor, using a slow-churning gallop to draw us closer to the neo-psychedelic nucleus of the song. The playful strut of “Scripted” is deceptively poppy at the start of the track, but after a swift vocal volley, it quickly grows into a sleek, punkish ballad steeped in melancholic melodies. It shares a rhythmic bloodline with the flamboyant “Ricochet,” but the two songs are separated by an ocean of distortion formulating the foundation for the latter. Even when Nocturnal Blonde are suffocating us with self-aware lyricism in tracks like “Wings and Horns” and “Drained,” they never translate as woefully indulgent or overly thematic in any capacity.

GOOGLE PLAY: https://play.google.com/music/preview/Tv4ha6wnusqw5h4yiorylryukzq?play=1

When I sat down with Still Gushing for the first time over the weekend, I was immediately captivated by the song “This House,” and not because of its unmatched instrumental harmonies and brilliantly produced riffage alone. In this composition, it’s almost impossible to escape the provocative clutch of the verses; in an instant, the narrative washes over us and imparts to us everything occupying the players’ hearts in a single swinging groove. “This House” is reason enough to check out Nocturnal Blonde’s new album this coming August 23rd, but discriminating alternative aficionados will find that it’s accompanied by eleven equally fascinating submissions of the most erudite variety. Still Gushingis at times difficult to consume, but its underlying message of hope and an inalienable, illuminated optimism lying at the end of even the darkest of tunnels makes it an essential listen this season. This is as personal as pop music gets, and I doubt that I’m the only critic saying as much right now.

Kim Muncie

“Be My Main” by Allocai

In his new single, the brilliantly melodic “Be My Main,” Allocai is discussing love, lust and the life that we all try to live in between the two in one of the most poetic tracks the young songwriter has dropped to date. “Be My Main” is structured as to keep our focus on its airy lead vocal from beginning to end, but despite the highly stylized lyricisms the he dispenses, Allocai’s performance never translates as self-absorbed or even mildly egocentric – quite the contrary, actually. This is his most exposed look so far, and though it’s a ballad of the more personal variety, it’s undeniably accessible to anyone who has ever experienced the trials that romance can create.

The beats here are remarkably slick, but there’s never an instance in which their grandiose textures steal any of the thunder away from the vocal track. Even when the crushing arrangement is drawing all of the instrumental elements into a singular vortex of incredible strength, the harmonies at the top of the mix are so hypnotic that trying to focus on anything other than their toned vitality is next to impossible. Allocai’s voice is becoming increasingly intoxicating with every release that he shares with us, and I think this is definitely his most palatable serenade of 2019.

“Be My Main” has got one of the least aggressive basslines of any contemporary R&B track that I’ve reviewed this summer, and I think that it was wise of Allocai to keep it relatively conservative in this particular song. If the bass tones would have been intensified more than they already are in the chorus, I don’t know that the lyrical content would have been quite as engaging as it ultimately is in the state we find it in here. Sometimes a big bassline can resurrect an urban pop single from a bland fate, but in other cases like this one, it would have only watered-down what was an otherwise solid piece of songcraft.

This was produced with a lot of professional polish, and I definitely think that its heavy varnish actually helped to maximize the sonic depth in the instrumentation. The harmony between the keys and Allocai’s vocal is crisp to the point of sounding ethereal in the chorus, and while decadence has been a scarce find in this summer of minimalist pop melodies, it’s being utilized quite excellently in “Be My Main.” The rich tonality of this track alone makes it a worthwhile acquisition for R&B fans, but its relaxing rhythm allows for it to appeal to anyone who loves gorgeously unfussy beats.

Allocai just keeps getting better and better every time he emerges from the recording studio with a new selection of sounds for us, and I would recommend that anyone who hasn’t already taken the time out to listen to his music do so now with the release of “Be My Main.” It’s another hit for an artist whose meteoric rise to fame has been provoking a lot of buzz amongst critics like myself, and I doubt that it will be the last bit of magic that we hear from him before the year is out.

Kim Muncie

The Promised “We Could Be In Love”

Most critics will agree with me when I say that country music is reshaping its identity right now, and it’s partly due to the influx of alternative, folk-influenced and Canadian talent entering an arena that has traditionally been dominated by artists who are anything but. Among the more interesting newcomers that I’ve had the pleasure of coming across this month is none other than the Canadian two-piece The Promised, whose debut single and music video “We Could Be In Love” has been racking up a lot of praise from the country community in their native nation as well as the United States.

URL: https://thepromisedmusic.com/

The way that The Promised mixed “We Could Be In Love” doesn’t allow for much of a bass presence, which makes the beats a lot less anthemic than they could have been with a little more oomph on the backend. At first, this seemed rather strange to me, but upon further analysis I realized what the band was going for here. By limiting the low-end tones in this track, they make it difficult for us to ignore the ripping energy that guides their vocal delivery (the obvious linchpin of the song). Where other artists want to hide behind a wall of melodies, these two are putting themselves right out in front for the whole world to see.

Getting past the production hiccups in this single isn’t all that difficult because of the extraordinary singing that it contains. From the second that the song starts to play, we’re given a front row seat to some of the most angelic harmonies I’ve heard in a country composition this year, and instead of slowing down to make room for some instrumental virtuosities midway through “We Could Be In Love,” they just keep on going until the band completely ceases to play.

Although the music video is a little cluttered for my taste, it certainly isn’t lacking in spirited wholesomeness, which is something that I just haven’t been able to say for the American country videos I’ve taken a look recently. The Nashville establishment has been letting a lot of its most loyal supporters down in the late-2010s, but it’s nice to see some of the melodic magic that once give the scene its credibility making a comeback thanks to the work of Canadians like The Promised. This is a clean-cut video that puts the music before any movie-style theatrics, and that’s not so easy to find anymore.

DEEZER: https://www.deezer.com/us/track/717562682?autoplay=true

The Promised still have a lot to do before they can claim a place in the hierarchy of North American country music, but the template that they set forth in “We Could Be In Love” is definitely good enough for them to use as a jumping-off point for building something special in future projects. Beyond tightening up some of the loose ends in their approach to recording, I think that they’ve got the right idea in this single, and furthermore, the creativity that sparked the music video as well. We’ll have a better idea as to how far they can go with this sound after the release of their first LP, but for now, this is a great addition to any summer country playlist.

Kim Muncie

Sharon Lia Band releases new Music

“Why can’t we pretend? / It’s not me… it’s them / Why did we believe? / That this would be okay” croons Sharon Lia in “Why Can’t We Pretend?,” the new single from her eponymous band’s upcoming studio album Beyond Wonderland, every word glistening with as much of a reflective nuance as the music in the background does. Lia is all heart in this single and the album from which it was cut, and though it’s not that much different in tone from what we’ve heard from her group in the past, it’s easily one of the more stunningly-stylized singles they’ve cut since their debut. “Why Can’t We Pretend?” doesn’t change the alternative rock model, but it’s definitely not anything even close to being status quo in quality.

URL:: https://www.sharonliaband.com/

Lia’s words aren’t the only expressive component in this track; quite the contrary, actually. The piano kicks off “Why Can’t We Pretend?” with an ominous harmony that bleeds into the fiery riff rock of the song’s second act. Even the drums, which are normally colorless and foundational by design in music of this style, are telling us something about the depth of emotion in play here. There’s never an occasion on which it feels like the Sharon Lia Band are drawing inspiration from stereotypical themes, recycled poeticisms or commercial pandering; this is as real as they’ve ever been with us, and I think that their contemporaries in and outside of Philly could stand to learn something about the vulnerability they display in this single and its music video.

There’s not much fat on this bassline, but I suppose that I can understand the desire to keep this song as efficient as possible. The lyric video is as cut and dry as they come, but it doesn’t leave us feeling shortchanged or unsatisfied at all. So many of the Sharon Lia Band’s closest rivals have been embracing surreal overindulgences this summer, and by doing the exact opposite in “Why Can’t We Pretend?,” these cats not only distinguish themselves from the mainstream mundane, but further define their sound as being untethered to any larger movement going on in the industry at the moment. The Sharon Lia Band are an independent force to be reckoned with, and they prove as much in this release.

I-TUNES: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/sharon-lia-band/910320399

“Why Can’t We Pretend?” is an unquestionable highlight in the growing body of work that this group has released since coming together in the early-2010s, but I don’t think that it’s showing us where the creative ceiling is for these players. There’s still room for growth, room for expansion and experimentation, and from where I sit, the Sharon Lia Band has only just begun to explore their musicality as a unit. They’ve got a lot of untapped potential just waiting to come undone in the right environment, and if Beyond Wonderland gets the same attention that their first album, Fairytales, did, then there’s a good chance that their status as underground stalwarts won’t last much longer – Lia and company are ready for the primetime stage, and “Why Can’t We Pretend?” is their official foray into the elusive limelight that they’ve always deserved to bask in.

Kim Muncie

The music of SHARON LIA BAND has been heard all over the world due to the promotional services offered by Danie Cortese Entertainment & Publicity. Learn more here – http://www.daniecorteseent.com/

Kris Oestergaard explains Transforming Legacy Organizations

Kris Oestergaard’s Transforming Legacy Organizations is a short book brimming over with information. It has an ambitious aim. Oestergaard studies how long-standing companies with deep histories are able to compete with modern start ups if they are willing to embrace innovation, encourage a culture valuing its principles, and commit themselves towards overcoming whatever perils may obstruct their vision for future development. His examination is well rounded. There are no extended sidebars or useless personal reflections. He maintains a conversational tone throughout that makes the book’s ideas accessible for a broad-based readership. Transforming Legacy Organizations is a brisk and informative read.

I found his construction of the book to be one of its strongest components. Oestergaard builds Transforming Legacy Organizations in a coherent fashion by laying out a thesis of sorts and roadmap for readers during the book’s introduction whilst also serving us notice of the general template for what follows. Oestergaard does not fill the book with one pronouncement after another lacking substance to back his assertions but, instead, buttresses his claims and ideas with solid research that never overwhelms the reader. Transforming Legacy Organizations is not a scholarly work, but it is informed by a thorough reading of what has been written about innovation in established companies and advancements made over the last decade. It is current and forward looking throughout the entirety of the book.

YOU TUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O25lr6ZIe-M

The first section of the book concerns itself with what legacy organizations must do to prime themselves for innovation. Oestergaard stresses the need for awareness – even long standing successful companies can benefit from examining what other, perhaps younger and smaller, companies are doing in this realm. Self-awareness is key as well. A clearly delineated purpose is essential for success and defining goals leads to a greater chance for realization. He faces the specter of bias – personal and institutional – and how our predispositions towards new ideas can often subvert our forward progress. Once again, he backs his ideas in this area up with detailed existing examples – his writing on Amazon’s evolution illustrates his ideas in clear fashion.

The second half of the book looks at what Oestergaard deems the “immune” systems in a company’s workforce, overall structure, and societal that can undercut an organization’s efforts pursuing innovation. He acknowledges human nature’s natural wont to embrace stability and the status quo over pursuing innovation and change, better the devil you know than the one you don’t, but Oestergaard sees this as a potential fatal flaw in an organization’s approach. If legacy organizations desire continued growth and relevancy, it is essential they avoid such stumbling blocks. He lays out a clear path for doing so after looking at how these immune systems manifest themselves in a company’s structure.

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Transforming-Legacy-Organizations-Established-Innovation-ebook/dp/B07SNGX9CG

The final portion of the book begins by revisiting an example Oestergaard writes about near the book’s beginning – the “extra razor” and how it relates to optimizing innovation. Gillette added new razor blades to their shaving products in the belief it provided more comprehensive results for customers who shave, but Dollar Shave Club entered the commercial picture, simplified the product by reducing the number of blades to a minimum and sold their product at low cost to the consumer. Proctor & Gamble responded with their own club, but the belated response came only after they realized they were facing a huge new competitor.

He delves into how companies can augment innovation by exploring digital and emerging AI platforms\ vehicles citing General Electric’s efforts as a prime example illustrative of his point. Organizational culture hacks are also discussed as a critical tool in facilitating augmentation of a company’s innovative ambitions. The third tier in Oestergaard’s discussion of implementing an ongoing vision for innovation is how this aspect of a company’s purpose can benefit from mutation – more specifically, how bold ideas about new company structure and technologies can open up thrilling new avenues of potential. His discussion of the subject is, once again, laden with many well chosen examples illuminating his point. Kris Oestergaard’s Transforming Legacy Organizations has something for everyone interested in the subject and those in business leadership positions will find it rewarding to return to this book again and again.

Kim Muncie

Risk: Living On The Edge by Michael Tenenbaum

The financial information pertaining to risk factors alone are what help pack Risk: Living On The Edge full of vital history in the age of mass data and tells some great stories involving the rise of it all in chapter 3, and that’s one of its more fascinating parts early on for me. The information in the stories are key to getting interested in the following chapters in the book from where I’m standing, and these financial situations involving numbers find the right placing. But there’s so much more to give this book five stars for, chapter 3 is only where it starts to take off.

ABOUT THE BOOK: https://riskthebook.com/

The adventures of Michael Tenenbaum are another story within the story altogether and that’s where it achieves most of its praise-worthy content once a little prepared for it in the early chapters. This isn’t some quick scan of information, it’s the opposite, filled with a maximum wealth of exciting and informative literature on the subject. And one of first-hand accounts from an actual risk taker of global status. You get just as much on Tenenbaum himself and it’s a long but economical read with an enormously satisfying approach to a subject not everyone thinks about.

I couldn’t set it down once I got into it, but it can be read chapter by chapter like anything else, it’s just worth mentioning that it reads pretty- fast and easy for its length. You never have to back track to guess where something is going, it moves freely through each chapter, so it takes its own risks in that department, but it has no lumps to be found in the process. I could use a whole series of this from Tenenbaum, but it could be asking too much because it really leaves no variable facts uncovered but who doesn’t like updates either.

If that isn’t enough it’s full of ways to stay informed on risk measures of just about any kind while you learn about how and why it’s important to manage risk at any cost and in any situation. It’s a lot of great information and it’s told in a way that takes right inside the mind of the author who’s lived everything he’s written about with Co-Author Donna Beech. You get the accounts of a risk taker himself who shares what he’s learned by way of world travel to some of the most dangerous places and situations to be in. GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44321487-risk

You also get the angle of what he’s learned as he’s gone, and that is where Tenenbaum shares a magnitude of unembellished facts that not only entice on the subject but would fascinate the novice or even the curious and send them away happy they read it. This book will please any and every reader who buys it, and you can’t say that about everything going out to shelves and devices these days. Tenenbaum writes a book to be compared to that of any on the dangers and benefits of risk taking for everything it is worth.

Kim Muncie

Paul Jacks is back this summer

Paul Jacks is back this summer with a fascinating sequel to his watershed solo debut Defractor in In Other Words, a record which is literally filled to the brim with elegant melodies that have been shaped into catchy, yet always surreal, soundscapes of the most erudite variety. Right from the start of the tracklist in “In the Late Dark,” Jacks is playing like his life depends on it, and giving up one of the most passionate performances that I’ve personally had the chance to take a peek at this summer. Simply put, In Other Words is the full-color sophomore album that we had all hoped it would be.

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/pauljacksmusic/

The synthesizer’s interplay with the drums in the title track, “Kintsu,” “Draw Upon” and the flamboyant “Anything At All” is simply brilliant. It adds so much aggression where there would otherwise be none in these compositions; it’s refined and yet still viciously raw thanks to the gritty arrangement of the other components in each track. Jacks has found the perfect combination of sugar and spice in In Other Words, and though I found Defractor to be really spellbinding in terms of stylistic fluidity, it lacked the aesthetical diversity that we find in spades on this album.

This master mix adds to the ethereal qualities of the rollicking “Too Emotional,” gothic textures of “On the Tightrope” and hypnotic thrust of “Do What You Will” substantially. Everything here is very deliberately structured as to draw our attention to all of the detail within the instrumentation and vocal, regardless of how subtle or intricately faceted it might be. In Other Words is about as highbrow as alternative music has been in a long time, but there’s not one occasion on which we feel as though we’re listening to an intellectual diatribe, or worse yet, a ten-track stroking of egos.

“Do What You Will,” “Too Emotional” and “Anything at All” are really danceable tracks, and I think that they express a lot more through their defined grooves than they ever do through the sizzling poetry that Paul Jacks emits (which is no small statement to make). Jacks wants us to be completely stimulated by every element of this record, and though he comes close to overdoing it in a few instances, this is by and large a really tight, robust offering from an artist who has clearly come into his own beyond what any of us expected on this second LP.

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/album/5waWzIOcaIdLIZV4tzuNKJ

After a lot of experimentation in his rookie release, Paul Jacks has found his signature sound in In Other Words, and I for one cannot wait to hear what it sounds like in-person. He’s got such an alluring charisma in this record, so much undying passion, and I’m really interested in seeing where it takes his music in the next couple of years. This is definitely a statement album, and what it says about its creator is just as valuable as what it tells us about the future of alternative music, and moreover, the independent artists responsible for keeping it alive in the 21st century.

Kim Muncie