Brooklyn's Jason Vitelli is considered an "art-rocker." Ugh. What a shitty sounding genre. It reeks of smug. I'm not gonna hold the moniker against him without listening to him. I'm not like that. Judge lest he be judged himself and all that, right?
He has a new album coming out called "Head Above Tide" on January 17, 2018, and I was fortunate enough to listen to it early for purposes of this review I'm about to write.
Will art-rock have its day in the sun? Let's find out.
Listen to "Labyrinthine" on YouTube below:
The album starts with the musical theater-sounding "Hit and Run." It tells a story and Vitelli has a strong and unique vocal style. I'm not in love with it, but it's okay. "Fault Lines" is a little funkier. The melody is dope and it's more pop-friendly. "The Persecuted" is next and it's dramatic and enjoyable. Strong tune. "Descension" seems to lead us out of one section of the album to the next. Pleasantly, if unnecessarily. "Labyrinthine" is the single and probably the strongest track, musically and lyrically on the album so far. "Living Proof" is a down-tempo affair. It slips into the musical-theater area again. Track seven is "D-Day" and it might be the most radio-friendly song on the entire album. "Welcome To My Life, Healing" is lounge-y fun complete with a female co-vocalist that somehow drifts into reggae territory somewhere in the middle. It's a cool tune. The album has really started to hit its stride. "Ascension" leads us again to another part of the album with a lovely and haunting piano solo. "Trees" and "Pinwheel" are both engaging with the latter showing a real Billy Joel influence. "Autumn Hymn" is sweet, but the album is beginning to seem long here. "Propagate" is dull and comes off disingenuous. "Vacant" is lovely little lounge ditty and might be the best-sung song on the record. He really shows off his Sinatra chops here. "Three Marionettes" is delightful and shows off a very versatile array of time and signature changes. The album ends with "A Mutiny" and it's a gorgeous ballad. An appropriate ending.
If this is "art-rock" them I'm into it. It's a little long, yes, but it's so consistently solid throughout that it doesn't feel too tiring. A really great album that I totally endorse picking up early next year when it's available to the masses.