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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Review: Jar-E - Chicas Malas

Jar-E – Chicas Malas
2009, Exotic Recordings

Jar-E is the musical alter-ego of Asheville, North Carolina singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jon Reid. Jar-E recently released Chicas Malas on Exotic Recordings, proving that pure Pop music isn’t dead. In an era of electronic enhancement and even complete electronic creation, Jar-E has released what may be the best pop record of the waning decade. Mixing a melodic sense worthy of The Beatles with Latin rhythms and complex song structures that would make Sting shake his head in wonder, Jar-E sings with the pure charisma of a young Elvis Costello about the sort of women who make him want to be more than he is. Chicas Malas (Bad Girls) is inspirational.

Fever Break might just be the perfect Pop song, mixing Caribbean rhythms, a quirky Ska-style horn section, gorgeous backing vocals from Meredith DiMenna (Saint Bernadette) and Stephanie Morgan (Stephanie’s ID) and one of the most infectious melodies of the young year. Jar-E follows up with Heyday, which you’d be humming for a week after hearing it if it weren’t for Fever Break. 3 Leaf takes a different tack, pursuing a blues-flavored rock style with horns and harmonies that help to build the sound into a glorious throng. Jar-E gives an outstanding vocal performance that you just have to hear. Casa Believe will get your feet dancing while it blows your ears away. Jar-E gives another amazing vocal performance on a wonderfully varied pop song steeped in Latin rhythms and some unique and unusual compositional choices.

An Idea seeks to challenge Fever Break for the best pure pop song of the year (so far). The jury is out on that one, but it’s a great song. Safe To Say is unusual in that it seems to alternate between a waltz and straight ¾ time with country accents. I am not as strong on my music theory as I’d wish, but it’s a very unusual and welcome musical choice. The Pedestrian mixes a Samba beat with a country arrangement that is again, very unusual but fun to listen to. Rosary heads right for the reggae section with a little bit of 1970’s soul mixed in. Jar-E dazzles again on vocals. The album closes out with Ramparts, an introspective and solemn musical moment that shows another side to Jar-E we haven’t previously seen on Chicas Malas.

Jar-E is more than just a Pop song machine, but the man has an ability to write pop songs that stay in your head for days. I daresay that in another time and place he’d be a superstar known the world over. In this day and age that sort of notoriety just doesn’t happen all that often; As we’ve widened the sphere of celebrity with reality TV and focused the lens of popular radio, stardom has less to do with song craft or performance ability and more to do with look, style and who’s behind you. Nevertheless, I present Jar-E to you as a must-know artist. The songs on Chicas Malas are so well crafted that even folks who eschew Pop music will find themselves caught up. Chicas Malas is without a doubt a Wildy’s World Certified Desert Island Disc.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Jar-E at You can purchase Chicas Malas from as either a CD or download.

1 comment:

Sabina said...

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