For the first time in a few weeks my Wanderings have taken me outside of Canada to the land of Santa Cruz, California, where a fresh-starting outfit known as Feed Me Jack has just finished taking an EP’s worth of tunes out of the oven. To all you musicians who want to get your music out there but don’t think we would actually take time to listen to your stuff, let this be a lesson to you: it’s the hidden gems like Feed Me Jack‘s Anatolia that make me slap on the headphones every single time, because this unimposing little email just happened to rock my socks clean off! Call it math-rock, jazz-rock, indie rock, fusion, prog rock, call it whatever you want, but all I can say is this is music that goes places. Let’s start you audiophiles off with a one minute track from Anatolia.
I wouldn’t be able to say this was jazz-influenced music if there wasn’t an immense amount of talent displayed in Feed Me Jack, but like its prog rock cousins Anatolia features an immense degree of precision and detailed composition. These songs are full of quick changes and intricate coutermelodies, and it is just as thematically oriented as it is diverse. A single track can carry the listener into so many different passages that he’ll be lucky if he knows how gravity is supposed to work by the end of it. The reason I have come to love this kind of music is that it is so inherently playful. Separate but interwoven guitar lines tease each other, keys and synthesizers create reverb-y indie rock ambiance as the bass anchors in the deep without being afraid to throw in some subtle riffs, and the drums are sure to punctuate every rhythmic figure. In the meantime, the entirely pleasant vocals are there with the melody like a safeword in case things get a little too frantic in there. Open wide and jump right in.
So where are these guys coming from? I would say that all of their greatest likenesses come from the wonderful world of jam bands. They remind me the most of Umphrey’s McGee for a few reasons. First off, Umphrey’s is extremely fond of the very abrupt changes and rhythmic switches that are found all over Anatolia. Their vocals are also very Umphrey’sian, both in terms of tone of voice and melodic structure. Combine that with a trend towards sharp attacks and speed mixed with the occasional breakdown and we have ourselves a handful of similarities. They also remind me a bit of my all-time favourites, Phish, but in their early days back in the 80s. I get the same sense that there is no place they would rather be than on the stage, and there’s a familiar carefree attitude that Phish has always held. I can’t label Feed Me Jack as a jam band until I hear some live stuff, but my recommendation to these kids is this: if you’re not already exploring that improvisational space, DO IT. Find the hose and unleash. I hear shades of it in this EP, and I personally would love nothing more than to see these up-and-comers become monsters of the live stage.
Finally, I would just like to point out that although Anatolia is an EP, it has such a great flow and is so meticulously crafted that it feels more like a mini-album. I have not yet had a chance to check out their debut record, Chumpfrey, but rest assured that will happen in the very near future. I have some great news for you people. Both Anatolia and Chumpfrey are available online and you can NAME YOUR PRICE! So give ’em a try and give ’em you support. Feed Me Jack, I wish you the best of luck, I’ll be keeping a close eye on where your career takes you.