Tuesday, October 21, 2008

JOTTO EP: "Good Friend Electric"

If there were one word to describe Jotto's musical process I believe the apt word would be "departure." There seems to be a refusal on that band's part to fit in or make it easy on themselves. "Good Friend Electric" portrays a band in motion. Their initial untitled release (2007) displayed a band that seemed to be seeking itself, while their latest release gives a band that found itself, and now seeks to lose itself.

This is moody music. It denies the previous notions of a pop-constructions. The vocal rhythms and intonations are a sign of evolution of a type that is not bound solely by the band's own progress and comfort with their sound, but a sign of a farther-reaching musical evolution that includes the music scene at large. For those who know and have known Jotto, "Good Friend Electric" is both familiar and refreshing. Guitarist Dan Soloway's style is unmistakable. It's difficult to come up with just that right adjective to describe it because it's some combination of cleanliness and sloppiness; a certain cultivated looseness, perhaps.

The vocals on the first two tracks of the six-song EP are something new, something choral and gregorian. Yet, Jotto doesn't deny what makes them distinct: that is, Kristian Almgren's tight but not stiff, pulsing drum beats and Matt Tarosky's melody-carrying synthesizer lines. Lyrically, the album, most notably in the third track entitled "Glad We Weren't There," are subtly angst-ridden. It's a revolution of subtlety, in fact. Something about the lyrics (written by Aaron Fisher-Cohen) that is reminiscent of a polished combination of Allen Ginsberg's content and Robert Frost's ease of practice. The combination is beautiful because Ginsberg was often long-winded, exaggerated and over-the-top, while Frost was always concise and boiled-down. The significance of Aaron's lyrics lie more in the mood and tone than in the subject matter, which can often times be very difficult to exact.

All-in-all "Good Friend Electric" can be defined quite simply: it's really cool. Oh, and you can only download it - so that makes it even cooler. Did I mention it's free? Mother Hubbard's Cupboard recommends, and recommends highly, Jotto's "Good Friend Electric."

-Hank C. Kupsic

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