Jason Davis and the New Philosophers – Album Review
So many old-timer musical purists out there have a lot of resistance to the use of pedals and other electronic effects on the guitar. This is understandable, as too many guitarists use this technology as a crutch, style over substance. But I defy any old time rock and roller to listen to this album and not be enraptured by the remarkable stylings of Jason Davis, who may just very well be the musical lovechild of Hendricks and Morello. This man has managed to seamlessly FUZE classic rock with progressive rock, standing on the shoulders of giants and thinking, “Okay, now what?” And he never rests on his own merit…the magnificent instrumentals could easily be made into repeated motifs, and some are, deservedly so, but for the most part, he just keeps shooting more and more at you, every riff bridge or solo better than the last, always fresh, always different, always pushing forward. To go through this album song by song, line by line, would result in a littering of terms like “sick riff” and “amazing solo,” so instead, I would like to say what a treat it was listening to Live + Loud from Lincoln Ave. by Jason Davis and the New Philosophers, and encourage any guitarist or guitar enthusiast or lover of music to give this a listen and hear for themselves.
I may be in the minority here, but I prefer to listen to studio recordings as opposed to live ones, but for this album, I would have it no other way, and I cannot imagine it sounding any better on a record. Jason pushes his genre forward, dumping out the dirty bathwater while holding fast to the crying baby, cradling it as it wails and screams, pure unrefined, raw emotion, which he nurtures into adulthood and maturity … but never allows his baby to forget its roots … and sends it out on its own for us to make of it what we will. The distortion right off the bat is just dirty and nasty and crunchy and raunchy and doesn’t seem to care if any nay-sayer may or may not be put off by it, as such great music is wasted on such ignorant individuals. Jason does not show off his technique … instead, he puts it to good use. Technique should be invisible, and if we happen to notice it, then the artist has failed, having put on a clinic instead of making music. Jason has no such ego, and the result is transcendent. He does not use these signature sounds as a crutch, but instead, as a tool, with which he can make the old and tired into something fresh and interesting, while still warm and familiar … a true balancing act … there is nothing new in the world, but there is always room for evolution, and that is what we are hearing right here.
From the dirty distortion of his rhythmically driven riffs, to the playful and almost abrasively fun filters on his higher register solos (almost reminiscent of Nintendo games), to the RATM-esque bridges, this man is not afraid to play around until he finds something special … something interesting … something actually worth listening to … something honest and real and not contrived or derivative … something that makes you look at other stuff and think, “What’s the point?” His lyrics and melodies at times are like Daniel Johnston … unfortunately, his voice is not much better than Daniel’s. That was the one downfall … the vocals did not even begin to match the greatness of the music. To be fair, though, his voice is definitely better than Daniel Johnston’s, and it does shine at moments … particularly when he pulls it back and stays in that sweet spot where he isn’t belting … the belting is where it gets away from him, but when he stays in that lower quieter pocket, his tone takes on a new emotional life and is actually very good.
Also, nothing short of perfect vocals would do justice to such instrumentals, so really, he would need the greatest singer in the world to even have a shot at something worthy of his music. His harmonies do help to elevate the vocal melodies to a more satisfying tier, but still, they are no match for the voice that he sings through the strings of that guitar. Again, I can go on and on, line by line, on how brilliant every part of every song is and why and how and what it evokes at every given moment and basically walk you through the entire epic journey, but you’re better off just taking my recommendation at face value and treating yourself to this feast of musical candy.
[symple_box color=”blue” text_align=”center” width=”” float=”none”]Jason Davis and the New Philosophers
Web site: www.JasonDavisMusic.com
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/JasonDavisMusic [/symple_box]
Nicholas Priore / The Fuze Magazine
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