Monday, February 7, 2011

Albums 2010 #34: Trading Snakeoil for Wolftickets

Anyone who has seen Donny Darko knows who Gary Jules is. 'Mad World' probably one of the most haunting, best covers of any song ever made pretty much made that soundtrack- but if you were expecting more haunting piano driven music from Mr. Jules on an actually album, well then kiddos, then you're in for a pleasant surprise.

Jules is more of a folk rock guy, think a man with a piano and an acoustic guitar- and there are plenty of shades of music that has gone before him. There's a touch of harmonizing in the early tracks that sounds like CSNY. There's the delicate guitar work and subdued vocals that made me instantly think of early Genesis and Wishbone Ash and even Jehtro Tull- you know, all the titans of 70s English Prog Rock.

But Jules takes the sound and makes it his own. There's nothing that I would really term 'derivative' or unoriginal about this album- it's beautiful, mellow music that's really nice for a glass of wine on a Sunday afternoon. (Which, ironically enough is where I first heard this album before deciding to give it a more thorough listen tonight.) Like Jack Johnson, it's pretty inoffensive, laid back stuff, which works if that's what you're in the mood for.

Some stand out tracks: the more uptempo 'DTLA' stood out as a surprisingly peppy tribute to the joys of Downtown Los Angeles, which, if you've been to Cali, you'd know is sorely in need of some lovin. LA action tends to be elsewhere, methinks.

Another one that stood out: 'Princess of Hollywood Way.' This one had me thinking of Wishbone Ash. Listening to the lyrics, it seems to be the story of a modern day fairytale of woe at some upscale party in LA with a nice, chiming sort of guitar- and this is how you know that I'm completely crap at music, because I couldn't tell the difference between the guitars he uses. There might be no difference at all, but they sound different and hey, this time, it's chimey. Like medieval epic, Wishbone Ash concept album type of a sound which worked really well.

Two more: Patchwork G and Barstool and then, at the end, is of course, Mad World.

Overall: This is a nice little, relaxing gem of an album. Folk rock at it's best- and if you're looking for a nice mellow album to chillax to, then Gary Jules and his guitar won't let you down.

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