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Opening Discoveries: JBM

Everyone please welcome Opening Discoveries to the RIF lineup! This segment will focus artists discovered as opening acts for shows in the DC area. I attribute many of my finds (Milo Greene, Dry the River , etc.) to checking out opening acts before going to a show. This week I’d like to introduce JBM, who will be opening for alt-J this weekend (9/15) at Rock N Roll Hotel (sorry, tickets sold out).

Jesse Merchant is the man, the mystery behind JBM. Stray Ashes is the sophomore album from Merchant released through Western Vinyl. JBM’s songs of love and loss will leave your heart aching for every person/memory/moment that you’ve ever missed. All of the sudden you’ll smell their hair and feel the breeze. In that instant, some distant past drives back to the forefront bringing old bruises along the way. The stories in Merchant’s songs are powerful and painful yet delivered with a warming tenderness.

I absolutely love the intimacy that comes through Merchant’s delivery. I can’t help but draw comparisons to My Morning Jacket as I go through Stray Ashes. Check out the a live studio recording of Winter Ghosts about and be sure to catch JBM whenever they stop through your town. Keep on discovering!

JBM – Winter Ghosts


alt-J (∆) – An Awesome Wave

alt-J, alt-J band, An Awesome Wave, breezeblocks

On the precipice of an era in music where the casual listener’s attention span can barely last a commercials length, there are albums being put out that hope to buck this unsettling trend. Albums that you don’t want to switch off. Albums that inspire and linger in the corners of your conscience. Alt-J is a breath of fresh air with majorly addictive qualities.

Described as “folk-step”, this group from Leeds pushes out a genre defying combination of emotionally charged music. I keep returning to An Awesome Wavealways leaving mystified and awestruck. Song to song, this debut album never shows its hand early; yet still manages to flow seamlessly forward. Hell, you’ll even have trouble predicting the next verse in many of these tracks.

Short instrumental respites effectively segment the album and provide logical transitions that connect effortlessly. Not to mention, they’re quite beautiful by themselves.

If you’re waiting for a weak/out of place track on this LP, you won’t find one. The first single, Breezeblocks, is well positioned as an energetic primer for the rest of album. Just an all-around great song that hints at the physical insanity to be delivered later by Fitzpleasure. A brief acoustic guitar interlude segues perfectly into the beautifully melodic Something Good. One of the softer tracks offered by An Awesome Wave, yet easily one of the strongest tracks.

Dissolve Me is one of those songs that you never expected to be your favorite. But after returning over and over again, the vocal harmonies and developed passion expressed through Joe Newman’s delivery are too much to ignore. I’m hooked. See ya later. Can’t wait to follow alt-J’s development and catch many, many live shows (hopefully).

alt-J (∆) – An Awesome Wave

Check out the wild video for Breezeblocks after the jump.

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