I Like The Street

Johnny J. Blair

Wampus Multimedia, 2011

http://www.johnnyjblair.com/

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/30/2011

I do like directness. Artful obfuscation and deliberate obscurity can be entertaining in their own way, but there’s something deeply refreshing—courageous, even, under certain circumstances—about discarding all artifice and stating your case plainly.

“I like the street,” declares Johnny J. Blair at the very beginning of the kickoff title tune, and the rest of the urban travelogue of characters and situations he unspools in the course of this track all serve as verbal props in support of that simple statement.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Case thus made, Blair moves directly into a cover of one of his biggest influences, delivering an upbeat, almost celebratory take on the Velvet Underground’s “What Goes On.” The arrangement features garage-rock drive decorated with exuberant harmonies, hitting the sweet spot between glam and British Invasion power pop. A third highlight arrives swiftly as Blair imagines what life might be like “If I Could Dress Like Clive Owen,” layering the British Invasion vibe with a post-modern satirical bent with results both twisted and delicious.

From there the album becomes more and more experimental and diverse, dipping into Bond soundtrack patische (the instrumental “Spring In Barcelona”), rather Roxy Music-ish hipster crooning (“Kept On Walkin’” and “Even In The Night”), Lou Reed-style urban folk (the atmospheric spoken-word “Big Town Winding Down,” and the raw, garage-y “Love That’s Here To Stay”), and world music-influenced jazz-funk (“Night Garden” and the first half of closer “It’s In Your Hands / Variations On Satie”).

I Like The Street hangs together thematically as an exploration of the lives of a city, full of characters and attitudes that are both distinctive and distinctively urban. What really holds it together, though, is vibe. It’s cinematic in scope, yet often raw and immediate in execution; both ambitious in stylistic vision and direct in stating its intentions. Blair’s gift for applying a postmodern feel to classic rock idioms makes him a perfect fit for Wampus, as he joins their stable of artists twisting familiar sounds in something fresh and unexpected.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2011 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Wampus Multimedia, and is used for informational purposes only.