Independent release, 2010
REVIEW BY: Melanie Love
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/02/2010
I get a lot of music in my e-mail, and it only makes me wish I didn’t go to school full time so I could review all the indie up-and-comers that come my way. But I couldn’t help getting struck by the quick and sweet EP from Jon Palmer & The New Complainers, and not just because their drummer also moonlights as one-half of Jaybird (whose debut album I unabashedly loved earlier this year). The thing that’s so appealing about the Radio EP is that it has a sense of timelessness – this music isn’t swathed in 00’s AutoTune or decked out with frills. It’s clean and rich, a bit bluesy, with a winking swagger to Jon Palmer’s vocals.
Hailing from Roxbury, Massachusetts, the band lists Lou Reed, The Who, and Guided By Voices among their influence, and I can hear a bit of The Raconteurs in their guitars and vocals. But it’s the lyrics that really sell this one for me: deceptively simple musings on relationships, such as opener “Brollo.” It’s easy to get swept up in Justin Costellessa’s smooth, enveloping riffing, but lines like “So this is your love that’s putting me through hell / You walk away smiling ‘cause you’ve got another one under your belt / It’s nice to see that you’ve been thinking of me” hit right to the heart with their subdued seething. And when the song finishes out with Palmer repeating, “I’m doing fine on my own” accompanied only by a last flicker of guitar, it’s triumphant but still aching.
Next up, “5 O’Clock” finds itself infused with warm horns and a loose, jazzier feel. It’s a quick, two minute track but packed with little gems of wisdom like “Don’t do anything stupid unless it comes straight from the heart” and “Are you in love with her or the idea of it?”. Third cut finds the band coming more into their own attitude, less lovelorn and more decked out with chugging slices of guitar, drums that rumble low in the background, and some nice slips of bass (courtesy of Andrew Jacques) that make me regret ever forgetting about the excellence of bassists.
Radio closes out with its title cut, another dose of warm, jangling confidence and the resonating line “I was never as bad as you made me sound…All’s fair in love and war, I’m just not sure which this is” – and who hasn’t come out of a relationship thinking that exact same thing? It just showcases further what this up-and-coming group does so well: taking a simple approach and giving it a spark of energy and heart to make it so much more evocative than just an intermixing of cool-sounding and catchy riffing and vocals. The four cuts on the Radio EP are definitely worth checking out, and stay tuned for what Jon Palmer & The Complainers has to offer.