Sometimes a new environment is exactly the right creative move in which to give you a renewed perspective on life and if you’re an artist, well then a new perspective on your art. I am not familiar with the kinds of music the Santa Clara, California indie rockers Desert Island Friend formerly made before they moved across the country together. The band members - Jake Shaffer, Mike Mulligan and Evan Whildin - all met at Penn State University. It was there, earlier this year, that they added bassist Adam Prado to complete Desert Island Friend’s lineup. Their debut EP entitled Jackson Street has a warm and sunny California feel to it, though not overly so.
The EP’s opening track “Usher” is a blend of poppy funk infused with spritely organ blasts. As it rolls along it breaks down into a mellow guitar groove. The next track “Desert Island Friend” gets even happier as it bounces along with bright and synth soaked piano pops, bouncy bass beats and scratches of guitar which then segues into the elevator music analog of “Desert Island Friend II” an instrumental which is a fun and melodic mixture of synths, organs and guitar.
Later “See it Go” gets a little more complicated, adding more dynamic and sounding a bit more serious. The guitars are borderline bluesy and the drums thump and bump in a head bobbing rhythmic time. It has a bit of a darker tone to it than the previous tracks and comes at the listener like a bit of a punch in the face. But a good punch in the face, as if to let you know to listen, you’re hearing something really good here.
Next up comes the slow rolling alt country styling of “Wisconsin (I've Got It Made)” which recounts a man who doesn’t mind working his crappy day job in a cubicle as long as he can “come home to your pretty eyes.” It acts as another punch in the face, though this time to tell you to fast forward to the next track. And that next track is the clubby and synthesized “Play Your Queen.”
Desert Island Friend seems to have not yet figured out what sort of road they should go down stylistically with their music. The random mix of songs on their debut EP Jackson Street is evidence of this. If I could give Desert Island Friend a word of advice I’d tell them to write more tunes like the excellent “See It Go.” But that’s just me. What do I know?
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