Since their formation fifteen years ago whilst in high school in Nashville, Tennessee, JEFF The Brotherhood have been redefining the US underground. Consistently dishing out gem after gem of psychedelic rock and fuzzed-up, power-pop brilliance, these super-productive, auditory exploratory artists have been recording and releasing records with an overwhelming momentum and have announced their eleventh studio album, Zone, which is due for release on September 30th via Dine Alone Records.
Zone follows hot on the heels of two 2015 album releases; Wasted On The Dream, which featured members of Best Coast, The Raconteurs and Jethro Tull (Ian Anderson guested on flute), and Global Chakra Rhythms, a wildly psychedelic affair fashioned from hours of improvisations and experiments. However Zone transcends its chronological restrictions, and arrives as the third instalment in a “spiritual trilogy” of albums that began with Heavy Days (2009) and We Are The Champions (2011).
The album opens with the title track, Zone, which features vocals and a drumbeat, and a very simple guitar part, which is very reminiscent of Nirvana.
The second track, Energy, opens with an energetic instrumental, before launching into an extremely calm verse. The chorus contains the same energy as the introduction, with added vocals. The drums and guitar parts don’t sound overly complicated but all the parts mesh well together. Energy sounds like Radiohead‘s Creep but heavier.
The third track is Punishment, one of the tracks released as a single from the album. It’s Smashing Pumpkins meets Brand New but trying to be Nirvana.
Roachin’ features vocals by Alicia from Bully, which suit the song far better than the band’s singer would, and provide some much needed variety to the album.
Idiot sounds like a cross between early Green Day and Nirvana at first, but the chorus is catchy and sounds more like Fountain’s of Wayne‘s song Stacey’s Mom until the mini guitar solo of one note which repeats after each chorus.
The album is very repetitive and typical of the underground genre; three or four chords per song, verse chorus structure and heavy on the overdrive and very deadpan vocals. Most of the songs sound extremely similar, and this album does not contain any exploration of the genre.
Zone was recorded and co-produced by Collin Dupuis (The Black Keys, Lana Del Ray, Dr. John, Tomahawk etc.) over two weeks in a converted warehouse called Club Roar in Texas.
You, the penultimate track, is finally where the listener hears some variation in genre. It is mostly an instrumental track but with some vocals. However by the end of the track, the listener has heard the same two bars on repeat for at least two minutes.
The album ends on a chilled out song called Portugal, which sounds like an album ending song. Compared to the rest of the album, the final two tracks show quite a bit of variation both in genre and style. The solo is reminiscent of Showbiz-era Muse.
High points: Roachin’, Juice, the guitar solo in Bad, the first two minutes of You, Portugal
Low points: Ox, the constant repetition in all the songs.