Strange Creatures aka Jay Hammen is now a special education teacher, husband and dad. In his previous life he was in a band called Brickfoot that traveled to thirty countries and apparently opened for some huge names like The Psychedelic Furs, Jimmie's Chicken Shack, and even Kiss. The band even recorded with world famous engineers in the making of their album.
He went from recording with some of the best engineers in the world to recording his last album on an iPhone. I can say this. His album Give Up the Ghost is unequivocally the best sounding album I have ever heard recorded on an iPhone (and I have heard a lot). It also happens to be very well written.
There are many songs on Give Up The Ghost which feel hopeful and optimistic. Even the ones that lean towards melancholy have a tinge of perseverance. The vibe of these songs feel completely appropriate given the fact they were written while he was healing after a near fatal car crash. His songs are emotionally resonant not only when it comes to the lyrics but also to the delivery.
Even though Hammen’s vocals weren’t treated by famous engineers he sounds great throughout Give Up the Ghost. He’s a good singer and there were multiple times where I was actually reminded of Phil Collins. It’s certainly in there if you listen to “Hitching a Ride to the End of the World”.
He opens with “Darling Demons which is arguably the highlight. The song is extremely catchy right off the bat. Hammen strums an acoustic guitar while a steady kick drum holds the beat and synths, bells and vocal harmonies swirl about. He sings “What I'd give to be free! Chart a course, cast to sea; these darling little demons, running rampantly through me”. Given the circumstances you can’t help but think these lyrics are about his time recovering.
Up next is “Fade Away” which is also a very well written. The song moves slowly but powerfully. It’s actually quite epic at times. The line “Please be good to me, and I'll be good to you” sticks with you not only because of its simple message but the way it’s sung.
“Nutshell” is a melancholy yet serene song while “Walk on By” starts off sparse but leads to moments of complete rejoice and self-realization. I already mentioned that Hammen sounds like Phil Collins on “Hitching a Ride to the End of the World” but I also need to mention it’s also has a slight 80’s vibe with the synths and drum fills he implements.
He close with “Eyes Wide Shut” which is a somber, short song which almost felt anti-climatic after most of the other songs which felt positive. That being said the song works, is well written and might make you unexpectedly shed a tear.
Give Up The Ghost is the probably the only music I ever thoroughly enjoyed the was recorded on an iPhone. I couldn’t imagine what my reaction would be like to his music if it was recorded in a professional studio.
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook