Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Jimmy Jax Pinchak Band - Make It Better

Jimmy Jax Pinchak Band - Make It Better 

Sometimes it seems that a lot of hard-edged music has forgotten two important things. The first of those is the value of a good vocal melody. Having something that is memorable and gets you wanting to singalong is key. The second is a groove. What’s the point of music if it doesn’t encourage you to move along? Well, this album puts both of those things up front and it really is a great set because of both of those things.  

Put on your tie-dyes and psychedelic shades as the album opens on “There Is More.” It feels like 1967 on the opening. Even when it shifts to the verse it still has a real retro psychedelic rock feeling. The cut has enough energy to get listeners onto their feet. It’s almost a “Picture’s of Matchstick Men” kind of vibe on the riff that starts it and shows up here and there as little interludes. This is a great way to start the CD. The guitar solo starts with fuzz-laden fancy, but turns to more mainstream hard rock. The outro is totally 1967. 

“On the Run” has a great groove to it. The organ that shows up at times brings more of that psychedelic sound, but overall the tune is sort of a punky hard rock groove. There is a real bluesy sound and it’s mid-tempo but still likely to inspire some dancing. The fast jam later brings some more psychedelia to it and would be a lot of fun on the dance floor. There’s a cool call and response of guitar lines and some honky tonk piano in the arrangement.   

There is a singer/songwriter, electric folk style in place on “Tell Me.” It’s got a lot of energy in a mid-tempo arrangement. The song feels like the story-telling numbers of the 1960s and 1970s. It might be my favorite piece. The vocals really make this a winner, but the music serves as the backing to allow those vocals to shine. The guitar solo really cuts through and stands tall.   


As the title track opens it has a real punk rock edge to it. The main song section, though really has more of that singer/songwriter vibe. It’s one of the best songs here. You will feel the urge to sing along. You will probably also feel the urge to get to your feet and head to the dance floor. It’s not the fastest thing, but it has an infectious groove.            

The arrangement to “Into the Fire” seems a little more bare bones than the music we’ve heard so far. That works in its favor. It really lets the melodies and song structures shine a little more. It’s not that the rest is over-produced. It’s also not that this is stripped bare. It’s just that this is a bit more “rawk and roll” and that sells it. This is my favorite song here. It’s catchy and fun.    


That same stripped back concept works well for “Free Your Mind.” It has a bit of a punk edge that also helps to make it one of the best pieces. The hook is catchy and the song is another fun one. The beat is hard to resist here. The organ lends some old school sound. The guitar solo makes me think of Slash – it’s tasteful and seems right where it should be.            

Next is “Draggin' the Line.” This old Tommy James chestnut has always seemed to be way past its freshness date. There is an infusion of crunchy guitar energy here that helps this stand a bit above the original. It’s probably a mistake, though. This kind of drags the whole set down a little. The guitar solo again makes me think of Slash. It has some punk energy that temporarily freshens this. 


The final song is another cover. Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice” might lose something because it’s an instrumental (the vocals on this CD are probably the biggest selling point) but it gains something for danceability. This is a great groove that encourages people to get up and boogie. Of course, the drum solo and bass solo throw that off a little. Pinchak and his band seem to channel Santana at time and then use the basics as a springboard to move in new directions and textures at others. This is a great piece of music and a fitting closer to a fun set.       

As good as this CD is, it seems like the kind of music that would be best live. I bet this outfit is a really fun show to catch. For those of us who haven’t had that opportunity this is a great introduction. If you like your music built on solid grooves and full of infectious vocal hooks (and who doesn’t?) this is for you.

Rating: 5/5


Review by Mary Angela Tobin. Posted by Mindy McCall

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