Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Quick Hitters:: Here Is What Is

When it comes to musicians that incorporate jazz techniques and background into their pop songs, (to quote Adrock) "I’m about it bout it." When I lived in Toronto, one of my favorite hangouts was the Rex on Queen. For some reason I loved hearing the U of T students pass the hat after showing off their modern take on the classics. I know from a purists point of view, 18-22 year-old kids trying to "improve" Hancock, Grant Green or Mingus isn’t really a good thing, but the passion the young artists had always meshed well with the Labatt 50 coming from those dirty taps.

So when I heard jazz musician Josh Cole of the October Trio was branching out and trying his hand at indie-pop, I figured it would heavy on melody and rhythm and eschew the tight structure and restrictions of the standard v-c-v output. The potential and creativity that could come from the project had me intrigued, to say the least.

Here is What Is – which I can only assume snags its name from the Daniel Lanois record – is a Cole’s Vancouver quintet and their debut EP is a nice collection of grooves, atmosphere and mood. Cole and the band piled into the studio and recorded sketches, not songs, giving them the freedom to grow and breath. Eaqch band member had a say, and that’s why the vocals and instruments work so well together. With surprisingly powerful harmonies fused into the sounds, Done Before It Starts shows that HIWI can pen songs to make you move (You Can't Not Dance and Done Before It Starts) or that simply make you fall deeper into the folds of your couch, overcome with emotion and thoughts (Lucy And The Lost Lions).

This new band gives Cole the chance to move and really get lost in the audience. I’m no virtuoso, but I get the feeling Cole is used to playing off his band members, not the energy of the crowd. With this collection of songs, snaps and approving nods will be replaced by sing-alongs and swear. The guitar noodle of On 4 hooks you, but it’s obvious that live this song will take on new life. Please Wake Up is darker, and the dueling vocals add depth and chaos to the track, but it’s the harmonies on the chorus that seal the deal.

As it should be, the single - You Can't Not Dance (Jimmy's Dance) - is probably the strongest song on the EP, but really all of the thirty minutes are rewarding. More importantly, these 6-songs show that Here Is What Is can go in countless directions and have the musical chops and songwriting skill to deliver a great record.

MP3:: Here Is What Is - You Can't Not Dance (Jimmy's Dance)

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Posted at 8:31 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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