Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

No Reservations About this Album

September 17, 2015

reservations

Growing up, I would spend hours in Fye listening to albums by artists I discovered through seeing their music video on MTV or VH1 (back when they actually aired music videos). When I found an artist I liked, I bought the CD and took it home to engage in my own little listening party. As soon as I reached my bedroom, I’d pop it into what I thought was an amazing sound system, snag the lyrics sheet out, and listen. Sometimes I would repeat this experience over and over again if I really loved the album. Eventually, when I reached college, I learned that people did a variation of this together and called them listening parties! Whether you have it by yourself or with a few friends, Taking Time by Reservations is one album more than worthy of a listening party.

The first aspect of Reservations’ debut full-length album that caught my ear was the vocals. Singer/songwriter Jana Horn has a voice that stands out with its simple beauty, similar to Priscilla Ahn. Her voice has the sweet tonal qualities of the Civil Wars’ Joy Williams, but also maintains the raw, unadorned feel akin to The xx’s Romy Madley Croft. The combination of these two aspects makes Jana’s voice one that is impossible to tire of. I truly can listen to her over and over again.

Each song on Taking Time pairs Jana’s beautiful voice with Jason Baczynski’s drums and Paul Price’s guitar in a unique way. The trio’s songs not only provide different layerings of these instruments but also contain different amounts of heaviness. Some songs like “Planet” and “I’ve been trying not to feel it” provide a fuller, louder sound, while others such as “I don’t mind” and “To be honest” give out more chill vibes. “I can hear us” is a really great example of Reservations’ ability to begin a song at the more relaxed levels of “To be honest” and build beautifully to a heavier rock sound by its end. They do that wonderful trick often on the album.

The first single off the album, “Planet,” opens the album up with Jana’s unadorned voice, accompanied by piano and the up-front drums enters in. The electric guitar adds a layer to the instrumentation that fills out the sound. The song has a slightly melancholic quality, almost giving off a post-apocalyptic feel. This feel is particularly evident in the repetition of, “welcome to the planet/ it’s not the way I planned it, it’s not,” sounding as if this could be a song for the soundtrack of a very well-done zombie movie. I say well-done because the song maintains a high level of artistic quality that could only be tied to something of similar high quality. “Planet” is a really great opening to an awesome album. I can only assume that you are now ready to host your own listening party centered around it.–Krisann Janowitz

Jaylis: A harmonious gem

July 15, 2015

jaylis

Imagine a sound that combines the reggae upstroke with brilliant, harmonious vocal looping, ending with an epic ‘60s rock electric guitar solo. That sound is exactly what you will find in “Whatsoever” off of Jaylis’ latest EP My Lonely Shadow.

“Whatsoever” is the best example of how Jaylis combines a myriad of diverse elements. The track begins with a funky electric guitar, followed quickly by Jaylis’ smooth voice. Once the second harmonizing voice joins in, the funky guitar transitions into an off-beat upstroke typical of reggae music. After the chorus, the two voices split: Jaylis’ voice repeats the same melody from the first verse, while the second voice enters a measure later with the same harmony to create a harmonious loop. The dual-vocal layering is a unique way to add intrigue to the track.

In fact, Jaylis does these looping harmonies in every track off the EP. Each track begins with one female voice (Jaylis’), and the second female vocal always starts by adding harmony and ends up looping with Jaylis’ voice. Sometimes the second voice echoes many of the words the first is singing (“Whatsoever”); other times she provides mood-setting oohs and ahhs (“My Lonely Shadow”). Nevertheless, in each track the second voice provides harmony in a truly unique and beautiful way.

Jaylis’ lead singer, Jaylis, has a strong yet sweet voice that begins every track alone or with light instrumentation. In tone and range, her voice is akin to lead singer of Of Monsters and Men, Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir; it also contains the subtlety within Romy Madley Croft’s voice (The XX). Jaylis’ voice can be seen as an anchor for each of the songs. The vocal aspects of the album are really what sets Jaylis’ sound apart, although the instrumentation is also unique.

Even though the vocal harmonies and looping from My Lonely Shadow may be the first element we notice, let us not forget to take notice of its diverse instrumentation and sounds. Opener  “My Lonely Shadow,” mainly accompanied by the guitar, has a mellow singer/songwriter feel. As described before, “Whatsoever” adds a fun reggae element to the EP, along with introducing the 60’s rock electric guitar solo. “Regrets” continues the ‘60s rock feel through its smoky electric guitar. “Spleen” has a much more folky instrumentation, with the upright bass taking more prominence in this track than it did in the others. Percussive elements, along with unique uses of the piano, are also found throughout the My Lonely Shadow.

As a whole, Jaylis follows up their first album with a standout EP. My Lonely Shadow combines many musical elements, including brilliant vocal harmony done through vocal looping, to create a sound all its own. My Lonely Shadow is a harmonious gem. —Krisann Janowitz

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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