Album Review: Lemon of Choice’s “Jay Leno Crash”

ALBANY – Jay Leno Crash, from Albany’s Lemon of Choice adds yet another piece to the already brilliant and ever-growing catalogue to burst forth from this area. In just seven songs, and through absurdity, unique genre-blending, and simplicity (but also complexity), Lemon of Choice’s record, released today, really packs an unforgettable punch.

The opening track, “When the Ants Come in to Your House,” features a very interesting groove played with some classic single-coil snarling guitar tones. Soon, drums lightly enter, the overdriven sounds swell, and before you know it, the whole band, along with vocals enter. There’re a lot of punk aesthetics on this song, though the musicality of some of the parts are antithetical to that genre. As a result, a very interesting blend of sounds emerges. What really helps this song move along at a compelling clip is the frequent change of rhythm. For example, the flow entirely changes after the tune’s initial chorus, and does something similar during the latter half as well. The starts-and-stops littered throughout the piece draw the listener’s ear in. Going through a bit of a sonic chaos, we eventually hear the original intro motif. All the performances are extremely tight, and it’s an eye-opening introduction to the album and the band!

Up next is “BB Gun.” This track oozes sounds that are reminiscent of a lot of the CBGB’s era of music of the late 1970’s. I’d be extremely surprised if this isn’t an influence for Lemon of Choice. The energy provided by the drums on this piece alone is just fantastic. To end the song, the guitar chords keep getting higher in pitch, before we hear a slight ritardando, and then the song finishes.

Making my way through the record with the following track, “Frog,” I really enjoyed how the vocals are split across both channels, giving the melody a “surround sound” feeling. To this listener, it sounds as if there are subtle differences in vocal takes between the left and right, making it sound almost like a gang vocal effect; a great arrangement choice. The “Black Dog” quote on the guitar was hilariously unexpected, and made for an effective interlude, drawing those listening into something familiar, before a brief pause and the conclusion of the song.

Aside from the music, I have a lot of appreciation for Lemon of Choice’s lyrics; they’re often hilarious and steeping in stream-of-consciousness. For example, take track four, “Beatles.” In this song, a nice chugging guitar rhythm starts the tune right off, along with the vocals. The whole performance on this sounds extremely tight. As is the case with a lot of this album’s lyrics, it’s all very tongue-in-cheek. My favorite line is, “I’m in the Beatles/You’re in the Eagles/Life in the fast lane sucks!” One more thing that really draws my ear in: this song ends in a great jam, with oscillating bars of 7/8 and 9/8, before abruptly concluding.

Already more than halfway through and rapidly approaching the end of the album, the next song to play is “Tarranchulas.” While the song is in 4/4, there are tons of polyrhythms happening in this tune. Even with a song under two-minutes long, Lemon of Choice sure crams a lot of information in. Starting off much faster than the majority of the tune, the track, after a brief chorus, soon slows down to a nice sludging rock tune, before picking the pace back up during one final chorus. The way the guitar parts are executed on this track is brilliant.

With track six, “Craig,” guitar and vocals begin this song, and before long the entire band joins in. During certain moments of this album, musical moments float in and out that remind me of something extremely Zappa-esque, in terms of instrumentation. The song is definitely a good example of that characteristic – to this listener’s ears, especially when considering the wacky synths!

Closing the record, is “Milk.” After a robotic synth introduces the tune, the all-too-familiar “Em11 chord” – the one formed by strumming all open strings of a standard-tuned guitar – rings out the intro to this song. After the first bit of lyrics, the instrumentation, while maintaining the same musical pattern, severely slows down, before returning to the original tempo during the next set of lyrics. There are parts of this song that, for lack of a better word, are goofy and comical to hear. For example, the singer imitates the sound of what is either a scratching, muted guitar, or the sound of a record scratching. Almost every time the lyrics stop during this song, the music really slows down. Near the end of the tune, a warbling robotic synth brings us into yet another prog-rock section. One thing’s for certain, their songs are not musically predictable!

Blending aesthetics of prog-rock, and punk rock – two genres that are typically antithetical to each other – as well as a smattering of other interesting influences, Lemon of Choice has crafted an ear-grabbing record. Fans of the obscure, and those looking for something high-energy, while being off the beaten path, should look no further than Jay Leno Crash! Be sure to support the band and pick it up now!

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