Eric Schackne

REVIEW: The Janks – ‘Hands of Time’

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Fun.  No, not the band – F.U.N. – the measure of enjoyability.  Hands Of Time, the latest release by the genre-braid that is The Janks is…fun.  I was just reading up on Zeppelin’s documentary covering their recent reunion show, and  Jimmy Page describes the band as a bunch of musicians at the top of their game playing together.  This is the best way I can describe The Janks, as they prove to be a talented group of players.  14 tracks to go, let’s get this show on the road folks.

This record has a confidence similar to that of a classic album, though this is the first I’m hearing of The Janks(I swear I like music you guys. Honest!).  This is a modest confidence, led by fearless vocals that do everything you might love about The Fleetfoxes or Cold War Kids with neither of their weaknesses.  That proves necessary for the intricately choreographed instrumentation from track to track.  They reach these folk rock moments that hint at moods common to The Band and even The Beatles, and will juxtapose that with tame indie-rock breakdowns to create beautiful musical rollercoasters.

While most tracks highlight organic instruments, there is a delicate use of electronic elements that never take away from the raw feel.  Other tracks attain this subtle grace with each progression and timing change.  Some tracks, specifically toward the beginning of the record, lean in the quieter direction, grabbing you and pulling you in nicely.  Toward the end of the album, they open up and unleash a fair amount of noise on your ears.

Standout favorites include the second track “Billy The Kid.”  A theatrical opening with title-track “Hands Of Time” paves the way for this hypnotic soundtrack that throws you in and out of a heavy beat.  I should also mention “Echo Whispers,” track five.  This is another tune that captures a fantastically slow-grooving slide guitar in the wake of a contained, thumping kick drum.  Their music is so rich.  Textures never clash, but  sway together in a discordant rhythm.

Some songs on Hands Of Timeˆsound almost directly like the product of some intense dream.  “Rat Racers” lives in a world where the Fleetfoxes had a musical baby with Cold War Kids and Stix peformed the briss.  Another notable rockin’ tune is “Demon Dance” where the retro and modern influences truly mix and match.  Attitude like Led Zeppelin, fuzz like the Black Keys, the theatric composition like My Chemical Romance; these songs are works of art.

I haven’t really heard a band this eclectic in a while.  Fans of almost everything will enjoy The Janks.  Their slower and down-tempo songs make you appreciate the louder end of their catalog spectrum.  This is not to say The Janks aren’t offering any good ballads with Hands Of Time.  Track thirteen, “When I Was A Kid” is a heartfelt disco-infused slow-mover.  Final song, “Get Outta Town” brings everything down closer to the piano and vocals.  While this track is the least experimental and diverse instrumentally, I think it might be the best song on this record.

While “the janks” sounds like a disease we probabluy cured with elixirs back in the 1800’s, they’re actually an ecclectic blend of rock n’ roll – a mish-mosh of the 50’s through the 80’s.   Each of the fourteen disparate album songs manage to feel like an instant classic, not without some contemporary flare of course.   Go get their music and put it in your ears.  I did, and look at me…I’m doing really well.  I’m smiling, you just can’t see.

 

TRACK LIST:

  1. Hands Of Time
  2. Billy The Kid
  3. Dead Man
  4. Can’t Give Up
  5. Echo Whispers
  6. Don’t Hide Your Eyes
  7. Rat Racers
  8. Separation From Your Body
  9. Demon Dance
  10. Drama King’s Ball
  11. Adolescence
  12. Child Prodigy
  13. When I Was A Kid
  14. Get Outta Town

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