A casual affair is the best affair. As in, when pressure is non-existent, something natural can bloom, sans expectations. As a 20-something, my favorite thing to do was grab a few instruments, go to a friend’s house, and then record some on-the-spot songs. On the way home, I would be listening to something I just created that I could not have dreamed up just hours earlier. Nothing’s more refreshing than creation, and doing so under soft conditions is even better. Listening to Jay Som’s and Justus Proffit’s new collaborative EP, Nothing’s Changed, I get a vibe of that lazy Saturday jam session, that dank basement with instrument cords and microphones strewn all about. That chill bond of the musical minds.
Jay Som is just barely short of a superstar at this point. She may not get recognized in random aisles of Target, but she is definitely in the back of the mind of all the indie rock nerds, and deservedly so. Everybody Works, her second full-length for Polyvinyl, dropped tons of sick melodies and hot guitar all over the unsuspecting masses. It was a common favorite of 2016 quite easily. Justus Proffit is much less known, yet he’s interesting in his own right. All the reviews of him mention Elliott Smith, and it makes sense. He plays a lot of acoustic guitar and sings in a quiet, high register. Their collaboration was just one calling the other and them meeting up. No pressure, no stress.
Nothing’s Changed, as much as it is a work of both artists, definitely hedges closest to Jay Som’s prior discography. It’s mostly guitar-led indie rock with a dominant backbeat. It’s a little unclear who plays what throughout each song, but just the presence of Jay Som must inspire great guitar work because every song highlights the instrument somewhere in the mix. Although, the album does give the artists time to play around with textures. “Nothing’s Changed” is laid back acoustic driven groove that lets a horn play out the song’s end. “Tunnel Vision” is a slow burn, but the fuse burns quickly, and then they just let the song simmer in its own groove for a minute, growing and growing until it nearly pops. Elsewhere, “Invisible Friends” sounds like a White Album outtake. As slack as the creation process was, there’s really no slack in the songs presented here.
The best comes last. “Grow” starts with a drone, but soon the drums roll in like the squad picking you up for the party. Then the cheesy keyboard part takes over. It’s just about as joyful as it can get. Also, here’s some lyrics from the chorus: “I feel fine. Don’t ask me why I feel fine. I just wanna waste, waste your time.” Then there’s a keyboard solo dripping with irony, followed by a guitar solo that plain rips. It’s fun. Who knows if there will be any more work between these two musicians. Doesn’t really matter. It’s nothing revelatory here. Just a few chill tunes cranked out in a bedroom studio. “Does that make sense?” Jay Som asks at the end “Grow”. “That’s perfect,” Proffit replies.