Jim the Band

The Way We Are

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Jim the Band's eclectic debut is impressive in its wide-ranging technical virtuosity. The band wends and weaves among Phish-like wacky jam rock, glossy synth-based dream pop, and smooth jazz meandering. Sometimes these genre shifts happen several times within the same song. Pianist Frank Gattone, bassist Barrett Schultz, drummer Bryan Waldo, and (especially) guitarist Dave Werba obviously comprise a slick and finely tuned ensemble, able to make major time and mood shifts on a dime. The singing Gattone brothers (Frank and James Paul) are both endowed with rich vocal tones that harmonize skillfully and to impressive effect. But these guys are not yet as skilled at writing songs as they are at performing them. The diversity sometimes scatters and warps their songs. And though they get more mileage out of oddball lines like "four eyes, a squirrel and a man" than anyone has any right to expect, the relentlessly trippy lyrics do nothing to center their aimless musical free for all. The quality of the songs seems to decline as the record progresses. "Two Tone Tie" and "Somebody" are thoroughly engaging and cohesive despite their eclecticism. By "Good," the group begins to lose control of its stylistic Frankenstein monster. The ensuing "Guenevier," with its airy-fairy synthesizer melodies, goes too far in an attempt to reign in the chaos. Much of the rest of the album is murky and uneven, and the two live tracks at the end do nothing to suggest that the quintet is ready to replace the Grateful Dead as America's favorite concert jam band. It's obvious that gobs of talent went into the production of The Way We Are, but that talent is, as of yet, untamed.

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