Grim Reaper Tunes
Jazz Jagz = Homeshake + Jerry Paper
Stringy, stoney guitar is just about my favorite sound, so it took me about 10 seconds into “Hello” to realize that Grim Reaper Tunes was going to have a permanent place in my collection. The way each string bends and morphs to create a soupy mixture of thick bass lines and pining vocals is intoxicating. It’s the kind of guitar tone you’d expect to hear out of Mac Demarco—but employed atop a darker blend of bass and vocals, it has a surreal effect. Jazz Jagz build their songs with discordant guitar plucking, somber vocal melodies and soft, simplistic drum grooves. Wacky guitar riffs are common play for Jazz Jagz, and it’s an aspect of their droll allure that keeps me coming back for more.
Grim Reaper Tunes is the kind of music that you’d hear out back of the diviest bar you can think of—in the dark, without a crowd. It’s not the kind of music that demands your attention. It’s the kind of music that plays in the background—the kind of music you forget about, save for its gentle but persistent pulsation. Surprisingly, that’s a large part of the reason why this album is so good. All of the songs are soft, slow and somber, but they’re filled with moments of weird, yet genius sprinkles of musical flavor which catch my attention and suck me subtly back into the pulse. Some of the licks in “Angel of Death,” for example, had me literally giggling with their wild, yet apropos structures.
Grim Reaper Tunes explores the dreary corners of jazz and rock—setting foot in neither genre for too long, and instead stepping into its own surprising territory more often than not. The ambiance of a live crowd in the background of each song is just the icing on top. This isn’t the kind of music I recommend to everyone, but if you’ve got an open ear, or you’re looking for something a hop, skip and jump off of the beaten path, then Jazz Jagz might be the band you’re looking for.—Alex Blackburn