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Now Hear This: The Invitation - Jobbaloon

Rating: *** 1/2

When you hear ‘Detroit.’ you might think of the music of Motown. You might think of The MC5, or early Bob Seger (before he kinda sucked), or even, for a few people with redder necks than mine, Kid Rock. What you probably don’t think of is the genre of ‘psych-pop.’

Then you listen to Detroit’s Jobbaloon, and things get trippy. On their newest long-player, the guys in Jobbaloon concoct a heady mix of sludge and synths, with plenty of spoken word intoning about metaphysics, and soon enough, it’s time to fire up the laser lights and splashes of tie-dyed projection.

Watch video for "Days" on YouTube below:

Their main guy, multi-hyphenate (singer/guitarist/pianist/writer/co-producer) Joshua Achatz, says that their music was written “for themselves,’ and sometimes that kind of navel-gazing self-indulgence leads to unlistenable tunes if your not, you know, IN the band.

But this album, The Invitation, is definitely compelling, although it does make you want to step away from your device and see them live. This is a band known for its psychedelic live shows, and the album, good as it is, is no replacement for the concert experience that is Jobbaloon.

Achatz, on lead vocals (and spoken parts?) sounds a little like Billy Corgan, if Billy Corgan didn’t have to answer to his bandmates for his…Corganosity? Corganishness? What I’m trying to say is that Achatz’s vocals are pleading in the best possible way, and every time they veer toward whiny, there are these magical (psychedelic?) bursts of layered, almost orchestral harmonies.

Of particular note is the track “Aligned,” which has an absolutely killer line about “God on my side, and the Devil, too.” It’s this ‘push-pull’ dynamic that sets Jobbaloon apart—fan acknowledgment of the inner conflict of the soul. Oh, and not for nothing, but “Aligned” also features a cool/creepy childlike singalong part. Worth checking out.

Another interesting slice of tie-dye pie is the song “Baby Blue,” which has more of that impeccably placed harmony, along with a (synth) horn-driven ending that takes the listener almost to klezmer territory!

If you dig deeply into The Invitation, you’ll find layers of complexity that might not seem to be there on first listen—the hypnotic, trancey feel of “All I Need” is a great example of this. Also, just to show off some estimable pop chops, check out the closing track, “Days,” which if this were a different time, could be a ‘hit’ in ‘heavy rotation’ on the ‘radio.’

At its best, The Invitation by Jobbaloon is the sort of thing that you will like if you like this sort of thing. It’s an invitation to a twisted, surreal world, and it’s worth an RSVP.

Recommended, if you’re into traveling to cosmic landscapes…

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