Jon Garcia

Jon Garcia

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Jon Garcia's album is often remarkably pleasant. Which is probably what he was aiming for, therefore there's no reason to criticize him for it. On his debut, he combines hints (if not outright homages) of everything from Thom Yorke's falsetto to Nick Drake's mournful calm, DavĂ­d Garza's own mix and match tendencies with rock and soul, and the kind of post-Supertramp sound that seems to have dictated where the Flaming Lips ended up in the late '90s. Garcia marshals a group of side musicians while he sings and plays guitar and piano on a slew of tracks that are never less than enjoyable though, on the flip side, often aren't immediately memorable. As a result the way to hear the album is almost for the moments where everything connects suddenly, like the conclusion of "Sweet Misery," where a sudden pause leads to a dramatic swell of everything at once, Garcia's voice happily riding the soundwaves, or the striking instrumental break on "Life Between Cigarettes," where a beautiful, loud crash of feedback rises behind the rhythm track. This fits a larger pattern throughout the album where it's the high volume approach instead of the calm and sensitive that results in the best work -- it's no surprise that one of the truly notable songs, "Television Blackhole," is at the start a quick, rampaging attack of a track, where the contrast between his singing and the music works to mutual benefit. Hints of shoegaze appreciation and the brisk beauty of Johnny Marr's work with the Smiths crop up here and there -- "Life's String Symphony" is one notable example, not least because of his notably different singing style at the start, deep and resonant -- and the whole album shows a commendable ambition that will serve him well in the future.

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