Jazz Bastards originally formed way back in 1999. They were part of the “jam band” scene, which I think most people are familiar with. Bands like Phish, Moe. and Umphrey's McGee are like minded bands that people would compare to Jazz Bastards. On their latest album The Illusion Of Progress the band consisting of Jeff Tundis (vocals/bass/keyboards), Josh Jackson (vocals/guitar), John Champion (drums/backing vocals) and Evan Noel (guitar/backing vocals) certainly has that “jam band” sound they many people have come to know and love but are not limited to.
I think most people have an ambivalent relationship with jam bands. Most of the time people will be all in or all out. The Illusion Of Progress isn’t the type of album that will convert people who have never gotten into the aforementioned band but will certainly be something that the other half will appreciate.
One thing I will say about The Illusion of Progress is that although you hear influence from the “Jam Band” a lot of the songs stick to a more traditional ‘70s rock structure and some of the less experimental material from The Grateful Dead.
They kick things off with “Another Mile” which bears some similarity to when Phish was trying to make pop songs. This is meant to be a compliment. The song is upbeat and you can easily imagine people groovin’ to this song. I have to admit that I thought the first song was what I thought a lot of the rest of the album would sound like but I was wrong. “Thought Knot” sounds more like something you would hear from The Who and Alice Cooper while “Everglades” is a gorgeous track that harks to The Grateful Dead vibe I mentioned.
The album also contains some in-depth lyrics that I thought were quite poetic. Take for instance “Like The Weather” which revolves around the unknown aspects of the universe. He sings, “The seas may rise, the seas may fall. But what is the secret behind it all? I wonder at the strange alchemy The shifting sand between you and me.”
As the album progresses there are a number of tunes that stuck out to me including “Through The Wind,” “The Purple Vibe” and the epic nine-minute closer “All Too Mortal.”
The Illusion of Progress is a diverse album with solid production and well written songs. The band delivers the goods. Recommended.
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