Okay, so I get back into the office after an incredible week at Cornerstone 1999. With me are a ton of goodies that I picked up and am getting ready to review. I plop myself down at the desk, open up the CD tray, and what do I find? It looks like my co-workers used my G3 as a $3,000 stereo, getting their Winger fix! I quickly need some way to purge my computer. What better way than to pop in this, the new effort from Johnathon Ford, the former bass player of Roadside Monument. I’d heard a lot about this, comparing it to stuff like Tortoise. Well, Tortoise it’s not. Someone called it “romantic emo” (I thought all emo was supposed to be romantic…) and that’s a little closer, even though it’s not as explosive or dynamic.
Actually, it reminds me of Don Caballero in places. Mind you, a very slow, methodical, under-the-influence-of-quualudes Don Caballero. The Roadside Monument sounds are there as well, but mainly in the intricate and fluid basslines. And like Roadside’s later material, it takes a few listens to really get into it. On the first couple of spins, the music seems to just be there. It’s pleasant enough, but the songs just kind of slide around, in one ear and out the other. But repeated listens reveal the beauty in these songs.
It’s nothing that really leaps out and grabs you — I think that’s the point — and the fact that the songs lead into eachother actually adds a bit of a nice effect. Actually, now that I think about it, there are some hints of Tortoise’s more relaxed jams, but without the art-school edge. You get the feel that this really was recorded by a bunch of friends in an apartment one day, because there’s a very casual feel to the music here. There’s a relaxed vibe, all of the players seemingly uninterested in impressing anyone, but just staying in the camaraderie they’ve created.
I don’t want to sound like I want Roadside Monument to come back (although I do), but one of the things that made Roadside so good was the tension in their songs, as if their music might fall apart at any time. I think Unwed Sailor could definitely benefit if they had a bit more of that in their music. Anyhow, this is a very nice release, albeit a bit watered-down sounding, and again shows that Made In Mexico is putting some very vital music these days. At Cornerstone, Ford said they’ve got a full-length coming out, as well as a praise and worship album in the coming months. Personally, I can’t wait to listen to this band as they continue to develop and grow.