Dean Jay / LP
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There be some weird, freaky shtick in the Fort these days. First you’ve got Christians putting on monster masks and singing horror songs and going national. Then you’ve got some band called Aardvark Lounge heating up YouTube with a song about fruit bats. And then you’ve got Dean Jay and his latest album, the creatively titled LP, put out on his own label under his own name.
LP is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for those not suffering from A.D.D.
The 10 songs on LP share a loose, funky, homegrown, feel-good feel that is no accident. These free-wheeling songs are carefully calculated to make you shake your booty, as is apparent in the opening track, “Do the Shakedown (Album Mix).” This song matches funk rock with smooth R&B vocal harmonies, forming an oft-repeated loop of drums, bass and guitar well-suited for jamming. “Opera’s Fried Chicken (Crispy Mix)” bears more than a hint of 70s soul, while “We Do Disco” sidesteps the oft-maligned musical style by jumping into adventurous dance rhythms with big, beefy synth tones. This quirky song is definitely in the “other” category. “The Copy Song 2.0” is a humorous story song about an encounter with the law told from both sides, with fast, gruff guitars and kooky character voices. Not to be outdone, “Never Ask Why” replaces the high quality soul music Dean Jay normally plays, with just a hint of country to see if patrons will notice. What the patrons get is nearly five minutes of glorious instrumental with some tastefully played guitar lines, setting them up to appreciate “Show Your Love,” another instrumental packed with 70s rock guitars and a Cars-like mysterious groove.
“Black List” is full of pointy hooks, fuzzy guitars, heavy piano lines and baritone sax accents, while “Solo Project (Album Mix)” is a meta-song crammed with lyrics stating that he “hired all the best players in town” to be on this song. These lyrics are hugged by a full, round bass dancing around copious melodies like a child at Disneyworld. “Main Theme” is an engaging and dramatic instrumental with an intriguing lead guitar sound and a smattering of horns, making the song a 70s version of a space-age “Peter Gunn.” Yeah, you know exactly what I mean. The final track isn’t listed, which is probably good in that it’s a rambling excursion full of tongue-in-cheek, stream-of-consciousness lyrics like “Have I told you how sorry I am?” and “I gotta grab it by the leg and hold on.” It’s silly, silly stuff.
Judging by the music on LP, Dean Jay is probably one of those guys whose friends love to be around but who has a sense of humor most just call “weird.” I’m guessing they only call him “weird” because they aren’t familiar with the adjectives “quirky,” “unorthodox” or “idiosyncratic,” which mean about the same thing but don’t sound as creepy. No matter what his friends call him, Dean Jay’s created music here that is a total gas, a total scream and a testament to the writing, performing and producing talents of one of Fort Wayne’s unsung heroes.