Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Reviews:: Jon McKiel The Nature of Things

In a only 2:39, Jon McKiel demonstrates what is so great about his new record. War on You starts with a simple premise - a catchy hook and some salt of the earth lyrics - that doesn't force itself on you. No, Jon and his band really let the riff do it's work, lulling you into a false sense of security and enjoyment, but at the 2:39 second mark, (ED: the release I read said Mike played the horn on this record, but apparently it wasn't. Having never seen the band live, it's an easy mistake to make) Mike D'Eon Colin's horn comes in and the song moves from a nice crunchy guitar track to a song that makes you sit up and take notice.

Don't get me wrong. Thee horn isn't added to make things complicated. It's the type of horn work that you never expected, but after hearing you realize it needs to be there. It doesn't clutter the sound or disrupt the flow of the song. No, it acts more like a nice wine that accentuates the meat on your plate.

The Nature of Things caught me off guard. I hadn't heard any mention of McKiel's new release until I read the Coast's Top 50 CDs and after 5 or 6 listens, I'm not exactly sure how he hasn't become a household name (if your house resides in Blogtown). 123 Friends features another catchy, crisp riff that pulses with energy. Some simple harmonies and a steady beat drive the song forward into each chorus. It sounds stupid, but these are the type of songs I used to listen to before bands felt they needed 15 people on stage and it was important that every instrument you could play becomes a crucial element. McKiel keeps it simple and as a result, you want to sing along instantly.

Although my wife and I have vastly different tastes, she always says she "just wants the notes to go where they are supposed to go." It doesn't matter if it's some obscure band I through on, a piano ballad, an acoustic number, some pop punk or a Top 40 song. She wants to grab the melody and let it play out, and I have a sneaking suspicion Jon McKiel is going to be an artist she gravitates towards (the penultimate track Get Caught - an acoustic number - is going to be a staple for us when we are driving around the Mountains here in BC).

For me, it's the third song that illustrates why Jon McKiel has the potential to explode. Poor Heart is a radio ready song, but McKiel never slips into the traps that makes me hate 99% of the songs I hear on the office stations. Poor Heart is in theory, a straight ahead "slow one", but there is something more to it. Even as his fingers move gently over the fret board and his voice exposes that sensitive side listeners need, my attention is peaked by horns, drum fills and a surge of energy.

Just as quickly though, Nature of Things changes pace again with the heavy Walking With the Dead. The repetitive chord and crashing drums makes for a nice interlude and really cleanses your palette before the insanely catchy Somebody's Listening. Without sounding like a total Bluenoser here, McKiel's delivery is very Plaskett-ian on this track, and yes that is said as a compliment. His warm delivery and the crashing drums really make for a song you listen to and reach for << the second it ends.

The band adds another wrinkle on The Cure. The droning, melodic intro lures you into a head nodding 90's rock number, but the horns that battle the guitar for your ear keep you guessing. Then out of nowhere, the song breaks down (in a good way) into a super heavy slop. Somehow in 4 minutes, they manage to make you nod, bounce, smile and thrash without ever sounding like they are trying too hard.

This record is a concise 10 songs, clocking in at just about 33 minutes and it does more than so many other record I heard this year. Dreams for the Desert drifts into an old Death Cab vibe, but instead of shifting into a syrupy melody, the band cranks up the volume on the guitars and counters the noise with more terrific horn work. The album closer - Stars Get Their Courage - starts as another slow one full of fret board squeaks, but McKiel adds a frantic drum beat and huge horns to make a crescendo that builds perfectly to end the record.

If you can find a more accessible, enjoyable record please let me know, because The Nature of Things has the potential to be on the shelves at any of the record stores still left in business, as well as finding a home on every blog out there.

MP3:: War on You

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Posted at 1:10 PM by ack :: 2 comments

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At 6:49 PM, Blogger dick did sayeth:

hello. do you have any idea where i could find mckiel's debut album...thank you


At 7:01 PM, Blogger Bob did sayeth:

So Good. Played a show with Jon in Vancouver. Big Fan Now. Great Record.


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