Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review: Jaill, That's How We Burn


That’s How We Burn

3 mustaches out of 4 (actual band statistics: 2/4)

Michael Chabon, musing on the possibility of a totally original novel, said that “All novels are sequels; influence is bliss.” The same is true in the world of music. This review will not be able to tell you whether or not Jaill’s new album sounds like The Soft Pack has a crush on XTC, or of what it is “reminiscent.” Nor will it contain a lengthy analysis (with spreadsheets and percentages) that charts the band’s influences from their toddler days, when they were big into Raffi to their teenage years spent idolizing Joe Strummer. This review is, in fact, significantly more concerned with how the name of the band is pronounced (I alternately envision the word ‘jail’ pronounced with a Southern drawl or a Jamaican saying ‘ja! ill!’) and the fact that one of the members is named Ryan Adams.

Regardless of influence, what sets this album (and any other) apart is what Jaill does differently from others who have come before. Sure, Jaill may not fully be the “psych-pop” band that they envision themselves to be, but they still know how to throw together some slick, catchy tunes. The guitar lick on the deliciously upbeat ‘Everyone is Hip’ is utterly irresistible. The sardonically titled ‘How’s the Grave?’ sports some quite fun guitar solos and ‘Baby I’, though a bit slower, has an equally catchy hook. Sure, ‘Snake Shakes,’ and ‘She’s My Baby” could have just as easily come from an early Shins album, but then again, you would never find Mercer and company crafting a song like ‘The Stroller,’ the most “psych-pop” song to be found here. The album does have a few duller moments, and it is clear that Jaill are at their best when they are rocking out, keeping things upbeat and tight, and surfing easily through pure pop riffs. Still, when all is said and done, That’s How We Burn would be a pleasant addition to any summer rotation.

-- Mark Waterman

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