J Boxer, a 22-year-old Brooklyn native and decade-long veteran of the constantly blossoming NYC D.I.Y. scene, performs in many bands - Fiasco, Butter The Children, his new group BLUFFING and the NYC incarnation of legendary British punk band The Homosexuals among them. His debut EP FRIENDSONGS, now available for free download, features covers of some of his favorite local musicians, who also happen to be his friends. A full-length LP of originals is in progress.
Being eclectic is not a guarantee of being especially good. In fact, it could lead to a dissipation of creative energies into such a variety of directions that an artist could lack any musical focus whatsoever. Luckily, J Boxer manages to be amazingly musical while re-crafting startling songs. The musicality, the interpretations, the vocals and the arrangements make every song memorable. As with exceptional albums, you don't want any of the songs to end, and yet when they do and the next song begins, you are equally as happy with it.
The attitude, intelligence, and sheer differentness of this music to anything else out there at the moment make FRIENDSONGS extremely listenable. J Boxer wastes no time getting into what he does best here, creating sprawling indie-rock music; delivering his unique vocals over atmospheric guitar melodies, simplistic drumming and bass grooves. It's an album that needs some getting used to, but just so damn infectious once you get into it.
From a contemporary rock music standpoint this album should not work. However J Boxer successfully assembles this mélange of eclectic and disparate alternate-rock sounds into seven melodious and head-nodding indie pop-rock tunes. With clever vocal and guitar hooks accompanied by solid rhythms, J Boxer accomplishes what most indie bands can only aspire to: A fresh and coherent indie sound.
Songs like “Liberty Parade,” “Culture Maker/A Warning to Students of Academic Philosophy” and “Be Free,” highlight J Boxer's uncanny ability to re-work and deliver tight and often explosive indie-alternative music. The sound quality is raw compared to the major label releases, but it's amazing how expansive J Boxer sounds, even when pared down to the base elements of guitars, bass, drums, and vocal.
J Boxer's unique voice seals the deal on these cover songs, with his unusual, but very listenable and genuine inflection. His is a voice that sounds wholly in touch with the subject matter, proposed by the original songwriters. J Boxer’s FRIENDSONGS EP isn't going to hit you between the eyes at first. The interpretations here will not instantly seize you with some mind-blowing riff or a groove that instantly draws you in. It's the type of EP that you listen to at your friend's house and wonder who is this? The tempo shifts, the musical atmospherics, and the unrelenting enthusiasm in interpreting a diversity of material is, needless to say, what draws you in. You may even go find the original versions (like I did) then come back to this. You won’t even know it’s happening to you, but eventually you’ll be hooked on these songs.
J Boxer proves that truly engaging and heartfelt musical interpretations is still possible in a scene swamped in corporate greed and stereotypical clichés.
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