Jons’ Serfs of Today is low-fi bliss. The Canadian band’s psychedelic rock recorded with iPhones and cassette recorders whisks listeners away to a heavenly place where the electric guitar reigns supreme.
“Sugarfree,” the first track off the album, throws us into a beautiful place of grainy recording quality and smooth-talking electric guitar. In fact, using one or two electric guitars as the main aspect of each of the tracks occurs throughout the album, fitting for psychedelic rock. Yet, “I Haven’t Learned” breaks that rule and uses a hearty acoustic guitar as its primary instrument. Secondary instruments include a drumkit and bass for the most part, but more unique instruments come into play on many tracks, such as the shakers in “Sugarfree” and perhaps wooden castanets in “Serfs of Today.”
The title track does not really sound like any of the other tracks. It jumps around in style throughout the song, with a long stretch of castanet-like instrument playing the song out. “Serfs of Today” works to separate the first half of the album’s sound from the second. A lot of the earlier tracks deliver this hazy lo-fi version of The Beach Boys (“Don’t Complain,” “Last Minute,” and “Orchachief”). The beachy guitar and chill vocals are primary characteristics of these tracks. Most of the later tracks are more saucy psychedelic rock like The Doors (“Other Room,” “Catamaran,” and “Softspot”) where the dream-like quality remains, but the bolder electric guitar and use of the bass stand out more.
“Last Call for Buss” closes the album out perfectly. At an even two minutes, the track is the shortest of them all. It opens with the more playful electric guitar from the first half of the record letting out whimsical rhythms. And just as you find yourself enjoying the track’s larkish nature, it gently fades out.
Serfs of Today is the perfect combination of sublime and gritty. The soothing vocals, ravishing electric guitar, and grainy musical quality will surely send you off to dreamland.–Krisann Janowitz