It’s hard to argue against the fact that Joshua Jesty has built a reputation as one of the best songwriters to grace the Cleveland music scene in the past decade. Between the proto-supergroup This Is Exploding, the snarky These Violet Young Lovers, and his extensive solo material, he’s a proven artist that produces songs faster than his trademark cartoon rabbits. It’s Your Fault Everything’s Alright is the fourth and final release in his Like Rabbits EP series and marks a defining resolution to his two-year long musical autobiography.
Collectively, this quadrilogy is Jesty’s strongest musical effort since his 2009 release Girl, with each album providing a snapshot into the twists and turns of Jesty’s progress in life and love. His pop song craftsmanship is graced with humor and wit, and allows him to create sentimental stories that can combine the tragedy and elation of everyday relationship moments into fantastic power-pop gems. His heartbroken lyrics swell with nice-guy frustration and can feel distraught at some points, but Jesty’s gentle style always seems to emphasize the underlying optimism of a true romantic. His combination of pop songcraft and incredible musical talent remind me of Matthew Sweet, especially since he played nearly every instrument on each song and recorded the entire effort from his personal studio.
The album’s introduction, I’m On High, captures the classic spirit of Joshua’s musical approach, with an anthemic gritty rhythm and soft vocal melody that hooks like it was from Guided By Voices’ Bee Thousand. The twangy off-note bends and driving guitars of Bad For Me keep the energy of the “first side” alive and provide a nice contrast to the touching delivery of one of album’s strongest songs, You’re The Worst. The last half of the album continues on a high note, from the upbeat modern sound of Time Gives Me The Screw to the quirky, new wave riffs (and awesome bass lines) of When It’s Gone. The acoustic guitar and delicate brass and string orchestration of Here closes the curtain with an emotional and impactful finale. Overall, It’s Your Fault Everything’s Alright is the perfect playlist fodder for both the secretly admired and the prospective breakup.
You can catch Joshua perform the entire album (and get a free copy at the door) on Friday June 26th at Mahall’s 20 Lanes, with Jason Patrick Meyers and The Quickening. The album is also available for purchase (along with the rest of the Like Rabbits series) on his Bandcamp page.
Elle King brought both the funk and the F-bombs at the Rock Hall’s most recent Sonic Sessions while Cleveland’s own The Commonwealth warmed up the crowd with their soulful and dynamic music talents. Check out Blown Speaker’s photo recap of the show below.
Australians Tame Impala brought their technicolor dream show to the delight of the sold out audience at House of Blues on June 4. Giant projectors and lights painted the crowd in bright swatches of colors, while barefooted and serene lead singer Kevin Parker kicked off the show with the latest single off Currents, “Let It Happen”. The cool and collected attitude of the band on stage did not extend into show goers who danced and thrashed about to the music as Tame Impala kicked through many songs off of 2012’s Lonerism including “Endors Toi”, “Mind Mischief” and favorite “Elephant” which extended into a jam session with synth-heavy beats (brought to you by Jay Watson and Dominic Simper) that resonated out into the venue and shook the very core of the audience.
The encore kicked off with a dynamic drum solo by Julian Barbagallo. However, Tame Impala saved one of the oldies, but goodies for last as Parker slyly smiled and hummed into the mic, “You ready?” before sliding into the highly anticipated “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”. The show ended with Lonerism‘s “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control”.
Supporting Tame Impala was power-pop Kuroma, led by Hank Sullivant, formerly of The Whigs. The band played a 45 minute set including “20+Centuries” and “Simon’s in the Jungle”. Even with the absence of guitarist Simon O’Connor, the remaining three members were able to pack in a great amount of energy and sound that transcended opener expectations, leaving the at-capacity crowd cheering for an encore.
When you love a band, you’re blissfully happy when every new album is as good if not better than the last. In that regard, Slow Wave by London quartet It Hugs Back signals a band that keeps getting better while holding onto what makes them great.
Slow Wave boasts alluring half-spoken baritone lead vocals and hypnotic guitars courtesy of songwriter Matthew Simms, also known for his work in Wire since 2010. Graceful keyboards and lush vocal harmonies, echos and responses are provided by Jack Theedom. Paul Michael delivers gentle basslines and drummer Will Blackaby rounds out the relaxed rhythm section. All combine to create layered, dreamy songs you can fall in love with. Or to.
It Hugs Back albums are recorded in Simms’ studio The Record Room, and sound just as good as any studio recording. In their early days, having formed in 2006, It Hugs Back was on Too Pure and 4AD record labels, but their last few albums have been released on their Safe & Sound imprint.
Slow Wave was first recorded live by the full band, then Matthew and Jack added 12-string guitars, mellotron strings, analog synthesizers and vocal overdubs. The songs were then sent through an old copi-cat tape delay.
Whereas past IHB albums like 2013’s Recommended Record featured up-tempo songs you can get a speeding ticket to — with plenty of noise-pop and psychedelic moments and heavy effects — Slow Wave is the prettiest release, more along the lines of Remember off their Inside Your Guitar release. It still sounds like the same band, just more hushed and halcyon.
Slow Wave comes out June 15. Pre-order today on iTunes and get an immediate download of Everything’s OK: