9 September, 2008@10:28 am
J*DaVeY is a Los Angeles based collective made up of vocalist Jack Davey and songwriter/producer Brook D’Leau – Jack is the girl, Brook is the guy – who first got mainstream exposure via The Roots’ “Atonement” from the Game Theory LP. From there they released their mixtape-albums, Land Of The Lost and Beauty In Distortion, through various channels such as The Fader Magazine, digital downloads, and promo CD’s.
The sound of J*DaVeY is hard to explain. Broken down to it’s very last compound, it could be described as “neo-soul”, for lack of a better term, but it’s much more than that. Listening to the group’s double album, the influences creep out left and right, most obviously being Prince, but other times channeling more recent acts like Erykah Badu and Outkast (also whom share Prince as an influence), not to mention J. Dilla, Radiohead, Funkadelic, and the list goes on.
Of the two releases, Beauty In Distortion is the stronger of the two, assumingly recorded second, as it has more dynamic material. Or, perhaps it’s the manifestation of years of pent up brilliance, taking form as the group’s debut. Whatever the case may be, it seems to outshine it’s predecessor (or is that “sequel”?), Land Of The Lost, also included here.
Beauty.. begins with the cleverly tilted “Division Of Joy” – hardly a tribute to Joy Division, but regardless a swingy nod to “a real warm place” as Davey teases “don’t you want to come and lay in the division of my joy”. The Kid A influenced drum programming of “Mr. Mister” (also not a tribute to an 80′s band) helps propel perhaps the group’s catchiest number (and accompanying YouTube video), with it’s infectious hook and Davey’s breezy vocals. Almost instrumental number “Everybody Touch” allows producer D’Leau to take the spotlight, as he crafts a very Ummah-esque groove that pulls you into the music with it’s hypnotic, bass-heavy rhythm. Also notable here is “Camera”, where Davey pokes fun at the gangster rap image, over a thumping beat that would make Q-Tip jealous.
“Land Of The Lost” however seems to be a series of leftovers, hence it’s “mixtape” designation. Here, we have a series of solid tracks, such as the Kardinal Offishall collaboration “Rock The Dancehall”, as “Lil Big Heads”, which finds Jack taunting her competitors with tough girl talk over Brook’s lo-fi funk. However, also mixed in are a few mishaps that might have been better left on the studio floor. “sLAyers”, for instance, allows a collection of local emcees to flex their skills on one of Brook’s beats, but this freestyle session simply doesn’t fit in with the rest of the tracks on either release. The performance of “No More Live @ The Temple Bar” is also one for the secret diary, as DaVeY uncomfortably struggles with a lousy crowd.
Despite Land of The Lost’s abundance of so-so material, you are still getting a lot of bang for your buck. Coupled with the fact that Beauty In Distortion is such a solid release from top to bottom, J*DaVey’s unofficial debut is definitely worth the price of admission. In today’s age of disposable commercial acts and redundant backpack groups, Jack and Brook are offering something unique, new, and different. - Pizzo
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