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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Review: Jets Overhead - No Nations

Jets Overhead - No Nations
2009, Vapor Records

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada's Jets Overhead returns with their sophomore album, No Nations, the follow-up to 2006's Bridges, which earned the band a Juno nomination as "New Group of the Year". Produced by 54-40's Neil Osborne (the guy who wrote I Go Blind; made famous in the US by Hootie & The Blowfish); No Nations has a cinematic modern rock texture that fits perfectly with the band's tendency to create scene-heavy videos. Jets Overhead has already received attention from KCRW (Los Angeles) and WXPN (Philadelphia) for No Nations, and the masses can't be far behind.

No Nations opens with I Should Be Born, a mid-tempo, mellow rock tune with a big, layered sound and an insular vocal approach reminiscent of The Cowboy Junkies' Margo Timmons. This is the sort of mellow rock than can explode into a big sound on the concert stage, and vocalist Antonia Freybe-Smith sounds like she has a lot more power and texture than comes across here. Heading For Nowhere features Adam Kittredge on vocals with Freybe-Smith on harmony. The melody here is very strong and works well in this straight up rock arrangement. The chorus in particular is the sort that you sing along with the first time you hear it. Weathervanes (In The Way) soars on the same melodic highways and byways of old Alan Parsons tunes; the harmonies constructed within the song are nothing short of gorgeous.

Sure Sign is a pleasant listen but gets so stuck in its own chorus it can wear on the listener after a while. Freybe-Smith returns to the forefront on Time Will Remember; perhaps my favorite song on the disc. The musical aesthetic is still largely quiet and reserved but there's a lot of life underneath where guitar, piano, bass and percussion intermingle. Always A First Time carries a delicious mix of optimism and melancholy, all wrapped into amazing vocal harmonies and a simple yet positive arrangement. No Nations wraps up with Tired Of The Comfort, using the same mix of lush harmonies and melodies that get stuck in your aural canal to create a mellow yet moving listening experience.

No Nations took a few listens to really get into, but now I don't want to take it out of the CD player. It's a quietly compelling album, chatting you up with nuances deep and varied, slipping in melodies that keep you on the line and shut you down with harmonies you can't resist. Jets Overhead have created not just an album in No Nations, but a listening experience.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Jets Overhead at You can purchase a copy of No Nations through Downloads can be purchased from Amazon MP3 or iTunes.

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