Our Lives, for example, is the opening track. A World-flavored, David Byrne-ish tune, with disco-danceable percs and a marimba-lead melody, then sealed tight with Jones' easy-to-sing-along-with chorused vox. It's a viral-inducing, irresistible piece of work, and a pretty far piece from your typical lofi stuff. This opening is followed up by the easy-in alt-rock "Diced Gold"; a vaguely familiar rock-pop number with definitely unfamiliar breaks and bridges. Then, the loveable straight-up rock of "Butcher In The Sky" enters as a moody & somber, yet easy-to-air-guitar-and-bellow-along-with rock anthem. Next, the cinematically-familiar "Perfect Knots" gives us a softer, jazzy, piano & drum & bass number, with Jones' vox gently luring us close before skewering us with a dramatic piano arpeggio - Surprisingly subtle stuff from a guy known for lofi.
The next track though, "The Deaf Words", obliterates the previous gentle touch with thick rock-steady guitar thrash, and then kills it with an almost-too-abrupt fake ending. "Alibi" brings intimacy as Jones' picks the acoustic guitar along folksy chord progressions, but not dipping into folk art. And the last track, "Coffin Electricity", seals and delivers the package with a more familiar driving-rock theme.
And when you look back over this collection, the alt rock and jazz and folk and thrashing-rock, the hard and soft motifs, the subtle and not-so-subtle, you see a variety of influences and sounds; none of which overpower, and all of which comprise a masterful whole. Stepping up his production game, Jones has deftly navigated past the Charybdis of indie releases - No track sounds like another. And all shine with the happy confluence of professionally-handled tech meeting masterfully-generated art. For a first step into a brave new studio-clean world, it's off-the-charts good, and one of the best Austin-based releases this year. -Scott Osborn