Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: Jonah “The Wonder and The Thrill”

Three years ago the Portland band Jonah won over fans and critics alike with their second record, “Trust Everyone Before They Break Your Heart”, even getting a nod in SPIN magazine. After starting some families and replacing their bassist, Jonah is back with “The Wonder and The Thrill”, a new record that is described as having a more mature sound with intentionally sparser arrangements.

“The Wonder and The Thrill” will be released November 9 and is a wonderful autumn soundtrack. Generally the songs are low key and overeasy, gentle on the eardrums yet retaining enough pizazz to thrill. Frontman Henry Curl exhales the lyrics like Matt Hales (Aqualung), sculpting his vocal performance to match the mood of the song. The record was recorded and engineered by Jordan Leff at Secret Society Studios and mastered by Kevin Nettleingham, who has produced similar records for Elliot Smith as well as Spoon and Hollipollock. The music falls like leaves on the windshield during an October drive through the park.

While most of the record is on the softer side, with tracks like “Please Let Go” and “No One Left To Blame”, there are some tunes with muscle, like the superb songs “The Old High School” and “The Wonder”. Then there are tracks like “Bees”, which lacks sting at first but starts to sound like honey after a second listen. Other highlights include “New Start” and the slow burning closer, “Sycamore”. My favorite track is the most accessible, “Diamond”. “Diamond” shines as a pleasant mid-tempo track with a strong hook and lush chorus that you’ll have in your head for days.

The hooks are subtle and take a few spins, but their harmonies alone will make you want to come back for repeated listens. Check out Jonah if you enjoy Dan Wilson, Coldplay, or Travis.

iPOD-worthy: 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11

Jonah on MySpace. Official site.

Listen to "Diamond":