The Jesus Clause – Downtime – Album Review
YES. You know what’s awesome? This. New. Album.
This band The Jesus Clause is the sole work of a nineteen year-old wonder-kid named Trevor Hook and man has he stumbled onto some incredible sounds. Each different from the one before, layered, looped and textured to a blissful musical state – if this is just “Downtime” for him right now he may as well pack his bags and get ready for a long life as a musician. This guy has got it.
I’ll fully admit in the first two tracks he had me all over the map with an album opening with short bursts of sonic audio-experiment, before settling into the first full length track, “Halves.” What starts in the bizarre becomes incredibly inviting to anyone listening the minute this track begins. It sprawls out into an unbelievable loop-riff jam collective that is full of rich guitar tone and incredible ideas.
Perhaps now is also a good time to mention that he has recorded all of this LIVE with no editing?
“Halves” continues on to show his ability to be creative and bring music to life right there on his own through looping and innovation. From the initial riffs, to the breakdown, build-up and final break – this track put the full picture together and now I can see it all much more clearly. As The Jesus Clause, Trevor has created some unbelievable moments, now recorded and out there for the world. They exist, and so they should.
Equally incredible – “Waters” has that same melodic guitar beauty I can find in Explosions In The Sky. There’s an absolutely wicked bendy guitar line in this track that is just one of the reasons I love it. Between this song and “Halves” I was already more than sold on the creative talent of The Jesus Clause; Trevor can certainly write a song, but what else can he do?
The answer comes in right away with the next track “Navigate;” a track that shows the definition of what sonic texture is all about. The main melodic line sputters and delays, creating a hazy, dream-like atmosphere that feels cozy…until near the end of the track… Heading right in to the guitar work in “Warmm,” if you were to ask me, this is what they call “Right In The Pocket.” On this album I can hear one of two things on each track – the effort to challenge what is “normal,” and the effort to do “normal” better than the rest.
For what it’s worth, I think The Jesus Clause has pulled this off insanely well. Keep in mind – I’m a dedicated listener and certainly a little more forgiving knowing this is done right there and live with looping and all that. There are admittedly a few awkward switches in a few tracks, but nothing that remotely snapped me out of wanting to listen to what was coming next. “Functional” is a great example of this. I could listen to this track 1000 times and try to imagine him recording these ideas all together like he has and it blows my mind. I’ll never know how this track comes together as well as it has, but it did and there you have it.
I have an incredible amount of love for the song “Stocks.” The idea on this track is perhaps even slightly better than this particularly recorded version. The lead guitar comes in a little too over-the-top in volume in comparison with the rest of the track, just slightly but enough to make it so I’d personally want to hear this in a studio remix. Not a knock against him at all, it’s a volume issue and a consequence of doing things live on the fly. But in comparison, you can move to the very next track “Drafts” where the balance between it all is as perfect as it could be. Absolutely killer track and base melody.
There’s an excellent, organized and jazzy feel to the music of The Jesus Clause and I dig that. The final track on the album “Space” puts on a wicked display of loud vs. quiet with an overhauled musical-battle of a song. Everything compared to the rest of the album has become bigger and stronger for this last epic song as the album closes out on yet another fantastic idea.
And in a wicked turn of events – we even get a bonus track, where unless I’m mistaken, Trevor even grabs the microphone for a second… But like much of these short electronic bursts – it lasts for only a moment before finding one final excellent hook and finishing strong. That forlorn piece on the microphone shows up once more at the very end to tie up the bonus track and full album on an interesting note; one that points to the amount of emotion in the overall album.
At nineteen years old – this is well beyond where it typically starts. What little sharp edges there are will smooth out quickly with Trevor’s ability to learn and adapt to his musical equipment. The most important elements are all here soundly; the innovation, the creativity, original songwriting and melodies. He reaches for complex structures and has truly not only challenged himself musically on this album Downtime; he has been every bit successful in finding new strengths.
Find out more about The Jesus Clause at: https://www.facebook.com/TheJesusClauseBand
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