April 25, 2002
Bluffton based-American Made have released their self-titled debut collection of songs, 10 tracks of modern rock n roll sure to appeal to fans of Blind Melon, Creed or Candle Box. The majority of the material was written by guitarist Jason Gibson and vocalist Jesse Marley with other band members or outside writers contributing on various tracks.
Mixing modern, funk and alternative, the songs run quite the gamut of styles with many seemingly tailor-made for radio play. Let Me Go, one of two songs co-written with Christian Engle, is a classic power ballad with clean guitars and a sound that grows in intensity with each verse. Dazed on the Shore features a wonderfully punchy bass in the front of the mix, backed by a memorable melody that will plague you for days. Speaking of bass, Kings of Desperation is the sole track written by bassist Scott Ayers. Fast paced, gritty, and heavy, this song pounds away mercilessly with the thrashings of drummer Brian Fly Farnwalt. Reflections is, well, a reflective ballad with clean electric guitar and drawn out vocals opening the song before the bass and drums kick in, rounding out the song amid lyrics of Your skin reflects the moon.
If you like the bluesy rock of Northern Kind, be sure to check out Funk Mama or Crazy, an album highlight with some great drumming, an inventive musical bridge and all around great musicianship. Driving guitar, bass and drums propel In The Dawn through some great songwriting destined to bring you back for another listen.
As an extra bonus, two of the songs are represented a second time in a remixed format. Dazed on the Shore features distorted guitars and a more driving beat in place of the prominent bass while In The Dawn appears to be a simple demo with mostly guitar, voice and drum machine. Both are nice alternatives but relatively lifeless compared to the full band album versions.
For being recorded on a Tascam unit, the sound is quite good. The voice distorts on a few songs, mostly due to the power of Marleys pipes, and the guitars sound nice but not overly different from what has been heard before.
Overall, American Made have produced a robAs I’m typing this review, Jared Andrews is probably finishing up yet another musical project. He’s just that kind of musician. No rest for the wicked, as they say. Idle hands are the devil’s play thing and all that.
Andrews likes to make music that feels sort of re-purposed. His other project Microwave Miracles with Dani House consists of “two boys from Fort Wayne and two keyboards from Japan.” The songs relish in trash, things thrown away and songs that sound like they were cut and pasted with Scotch tape and 80s sample beats off a Casio.
Andrews just released the debut album with his new band Trophy Club called Sports Cars, and right before that he put out a new solo album called I Wanna Be Your Cartoon. It’s an album that blends pop songwriting with an almost childlike sensibility – sort of like Pee Wee’s Playhouse but thru the eyes of Ween. It’s like a pancake breakfast after a double dose of Robitussin. Enjoyable and sickly all at once.
I Wanna Be Your Cartoon has the feel of an album created by some nondescript Midwestern kid after receiving a Casio keyboard on Christmas morning. You can almost see the kid running to his bedroom after Christmas morning cinnamon rolls, setting that mass-produced Japanese synth on his bed and setting some random bossa nova beat and writing a song about losing the remote control (“I Lost My Remote Control”), then fading it out to a chiptune version of Wilco’s “California Stars” just for kicks. Then he moves onto a song about Omar from The Wire (“The G Stands Alone”) that somehow morphs into some “bizarro world” version of Elton John’s “Candle In The Wind.” Except, these songs aren’t written by a kid on Christmas morning with a sugar buzz, but by a dude in his 20s hammering out pop hooks and caffeinated weirdness on plastic instruments.
Though Andrews enjoys pasting together these songs from the past with his own sonics, he also writes great pop songs. A highlight is the excellent “Cigarettes and Mountain Dew,” an ode to love and adoration. He promises his significant other monkeys, boats, diamonds and dragon rolls, but all they really want is cigarettes and Mountain Dew. It’s a sweet slice of the simple life, all put together on that crazy keyboard.
I Wanna Be Your Cartoon swishes and swoons like a Goodwill-funded project inspired by Loony Toons and John Waters films – fun pop tracks that run the gamut from Sublime to Ween to Captain Beefheart, sometimes all in the same song. Andrews proves he can make the most from what you’ve got collecting dust in the closet. He’s got an impressive discography to prove it, too. ust first effort that should appeal to fans of radio-friendly modern rock. Hear these songs for yourself and order the CD at www.mp3.com/ a-merican_made or contact the band at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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