You know what really grinds my gears? People with more talent in one finger nail than I have in my entire physical and mental form. People for whom a sneeze most likely comes out as a lush, densely layered melody with hit radio potential......
........in actual fact, I love these folks and they're more or less the reason that peons such as I ramble on so often - blogging, I believe they're calling it nowadays. But the Family Guy reference has been ghosting around my mind for a few days now and required an exorcism.
Such abundant talent as to which the (entirely unnecessary) preamble hints is present throughout the debut EP from J.E.L.L.i. , the project name for one Chris Sauter's musical endeavours. This resident of Staten Island (never been there but it has its own eerily disconnected subway line, so it must be inhabited) initially seems to be running the risk of spreading himself too thin when you take a look at the J.E.L.L.i. website detailing this ep...... acoustic/hard rock/punk/alternative ......which isn't an uncommon occurrence for artists on their initial recordings. One spin through the ep, however, and we're the ones left feeling mildly foolish for ever having doubted. The styles meld together seemlessly and each of the tunes lends its own individuality to a 5 song whole that is exquisitely produced.
Kicking off with the electric-acoustic ode to complicated love, Jenn, the ballad style never comes near the cheesy nature into which such songs can descend. Instead, it first showcases an upbeat emotional honesty lyrically and signs off with some intricate guitar soloing that only adds to the beauty. Following this, things are kicked up a notch with I Am Blank (Nothing), my personal highlight as one born into the alt-rock faith. A fast, irrepressible punked up song, it doesn't stop there and adds in some more alternating guitar tones which nod to a heavier, perhaps post hardcore feel. White Lines continues this style but with a more jagged rhythm section, losing the punk speed to an extent. I tell no lie that the I can find The Movielife, Saves the Day, Quicksand, Far, and innumerable other potential influences in these two songs alone, on listening carefully. Whether or not these bands had any impact on J.E.L.L.i.'s sound is to be confirmed, but lofty comparisons regardless.
Starlight moves us back into the calmer acoustic waters from which we set sail, going completely unplugged in this case. There's a possibility that this one could get a little syrupy sweet after repeated listens but, again, the honesty and carefully constructed lyrics should see that it remains on the pleasant side of emotional rock. Closing out the ep, New Dimension ties all the quality songwriting and harder influences into one upbeat, rocking conclusion. Even a Beach Boys-esque doo-wah gets into the soundscape and sounds absolutely perfectly placed.
To have tied all this together so effectively at any point would be impressive. To have achieved it on a debut EP is borderline mocking more established artists that still struggle to get 5 quality songs onto an album. Add to this the du jour quote on the J.E.L.L.i. Myspace of "Record Label: I prefer to keep 70%... not 12%", and you know that when this music makes it big, the creator is going to be the rightful winner, rather than some multinational that threw it at the wall with some other poor artists to see what stuck. Artists can now connect to those that want to listen in more ways than 24 hours in a day will allow. The explosion has occurred and no amount of signing has been 80's acts or suing 12 year olds downloading Britney's latest can stop it.
The point is, we're back to basics and word of mouth is everything again. This is a good thing. You can buy the J.E.L.L.i. ep with one click on iTunes, if you like. You can also get even more up close and personal and buy a signed/numbered enhanced CD here (scroll down a wee bit first). You can connect with any number of social and media networks on which J.E.L.L.i. resides. All in a bid to spread this music to one more person who might like it.
Talented, accessible, and wielding top quality tunes. What more can one ask for, when all's said and done?
MP3: J.E.L.L.i. - I Am Blank (Nothing)
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