If you missed out on Hot For a Heathen by Rebel in the Morning last year then you might want to start there. However, the recent release Satanicolor is just as good. Rebel in the Morning happens to be one guy named Jon Searles and he writes, records and produces his own music. Amongst a sea of indie musicians vying to be noticed Searles is one of the rare undiscovered anomalies that is superior to the vast majority of his peers.
It’s not one thing that really sets him apart - it’s a number of smaller things that add up to an original, unique artist that isn’t attached to a genre or expectation. Between the lyrics, mind blowing timing changes and infectious melodies, Searles plays his own version of art rock that is unpretentious yet prolific.
The album opens with “Satanicolor” which initially starts with a wall of horns and cryptic guitar picking. As the horns subside Searles starts singing and he might remind you of Grizzly Bear in some ways. The first change is sudden and dissonant but the cascading vocal harmonies make the transition sound natural. It isn't until the last minute of so that you start to hear the unexpected places Searles can take his songs.
“How?” is one of the catchiest songs on the album, which refuses to follow any clichés while “Song About Integrity” has a bouncy, spaghetti western vibe that has a number of transitions that are a testament to the originality of Searles. I enjoyed the phased, funk vibe on “Kid Kidder” and “Lady Thunder.” “Lazy Bones” has some of the most impressive time changes that sound like prog rock meets a travelling circus. Searles slows it down on “Adam” which is arguably the most emotionally resonant, melancholy on the album.
The last two songs “Old Buddy Of Mine” and “A Normal Man” were exceptional. “Old Buddy Of Mine” is an atmospheric, folk song that puts Searles’ vocals front and center but also comes with a surprise ending I won’t spoil. “A Normal Man” has hints of old school Beck via Mutations era. The mix of sustained instrumentation and the build towards the three-minute mark is not to be missed.
I have no idea why Rebel in the Morning isn’t as well known as some of today's most celebrated indie artists because his musicianship is on that level. Take a listen and you should understand what I’m talking about. Highly Recommended.
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