Recorded over a mere five days, Judah Johnson’s latest release is a tad more polished and refined than previous efforts. Songs like “Warm Air Cooling” act as interludes for “Little Sounds”, which would compare favorably to a cross between U2 and Mercury Rev. That or a moody Travis. Regardless, lead singer Daniel Johnson excels in this realm, with the somewhat dreamy but tension-riddled “Jukebox Heartache” that lends itself to Chris Martin and his Coldplay playmates. However, some efforts don’t measure up, including a rather ordinary “Niagara Walls”, which hits a wall from its onset. The same malaise or lethargy is apparent with the mid-tempo, mope-ish “Seeing Things”, which shouldn’t have seen the light of day outside the studio or somebody’s ProTools gizmo. The conclusion has some redeeming quality, though, as the pace and tempo picks up. When the band shows more chutzpah, as they do on the meaty, swaggering “Star Struck”, they hit something worthwhile even with the fey digressions. The “Loop Hymn” is aptly titled, as it brings to mind Moby remixing Bono and company circa The Joshua Tree. It is without question the album’s highlight. “Tommi (Tears in a Bottle)” is another surprise, with a dark, ominous, jazzy bend to it which could have been found on Bowie’s Outside album.
// Notes from the Road
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