Homeless J. have been a Fort Wayne staple for many years, ultimately securing a major label deal and then
disappearing when their label underwent some business restructuring, the full details of which can be found in the whatzup online cover story archive. But the band refused to give up, and such was the power of their music that when refugees from their label started their own label, Homeless J. were on the short list of bands to promote. So it was that Three Seconds To Gaze, recorded more than a year ago in one of the nation’s premier studios, guided by seasoned veterans John and Dino Elefanti, was finally released.
The album roars to life with “The Flash,” growling with massive guitars (compliments of Brad Amstutz) that abate to a murky, mysterious verse similar to the best of Velvet Revolver. The crushing guitars return for the chorus which is encouraging, despite the low, heavy riff, giving the song instant radio appeal. The band’s love of ambient guitar treatments in the verses and uplifting choruses finds full vent in “Beauty Boy,” a song which is alternately mellow and highly encouraging. Vocalist Chad Van Meter, who must have learned to sing at the knee of Bono, takes a page from Jim Morrison in “Not The Sun,” a slow simmering song of shimmering guitars that ramp up to a stratosphere-piercing chorus of volume and energy. The band earns their art-rock stripes in “B-Fly,” one of their earliest songs, where a peppy U2 beat is held tight by drummer Lance Hill as spacerock guitars sizzle energetically and tantalizing backing vocals permeate from another dimension. Not to be outdone, the heart-pumping “Did You See It?” is 80s arena rock at its finest, almost like a lost U2 song from their Joshua Tree days. “Bra In The Window” features unusual guitar textures, a foot-stomping beat, a call-to-action chorus and Jon Hill all over with impressive, slippery bass playing that holds the song together like a clasp, a feat matched by his looping lines on the album closer, “If I Could Raise Myself From The Dead,” the shortest but one of the freshest songs on the disc and packed with explosive vocals and a memorable guitar hook. The longest track, “Sister,” peaks at just over seven minutes but gives the band ample room to move, developing a somber theme into a dazzling, fiery instrumental passage that is simply captivating.
As you can tell from the album and song titles, Homeless J. are not content to write simple boy/girl love songs. Just as the music is intricate and
intelligent without being overbearing, the lyrics are thoughtful, poetic and poignant without being overbearing or alienating, assuring multiple listens as you try to figure out the meaning.
With the kind of melodic and instantly enjoyable songs for which most bands would give their grandmother’s false teeth, the patience of Homeless J. finally pays off with Three Seconds To Gaze, an absorbing album with the kind of musical and lyrical depth that will stick in your CD player for a long time. Even though this album is available at big box stores across the
nation, it’s also available at area Wooden Nickel stores.
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Marcus King Band
July 21 • Sweetwater Performace Pavilion