Wednesday, 10 April 2013

J'nai "J'nai"

Probably the best albums to review are the ones by independent artists. These are the bands that know they have everything to lose and everything to gain, so it’s important to put every bit of effort possible in to the songs they record, and the ones who really know what’s good for them put even more effort in to their live shows.

Toronto hard rock outfit J’Nai fits this description quite well. They are among the flock of newer bands that feature all men on instruments, fronted by a woman. Having been together for just over a year, they’ve already made a name for themselves as an opening act for such classic rock talent as Vince Neil , Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker, Queensryche and the list continues. In their year as a band, they’ve released a 7 song EP filled with songs that are almost as energetic as their live shows.

The first track gets right in to it. No corny intro, Skipping Stones just gets straight in to rocking with the songs chorus. When you first hear lead singer Jeanette Ricasio’s voice, you get the idea that she has a lot of strong influence from a range of different musicians. For instance, her Ozzy Osbourne-like ability to sing along with the guitar riffs of the chorus to make the song seem even more like it’s an anthem, but doesn’t shy away from using the more melodic and soothing side of her voice in the pre-chorus. The song as a whole gives any listener a good idea of the capabilities of the band and is a great opener.

Songs like Accident make the album unique. Just when you think the band is nothing more than just a hard rock act, maybe for just the classic rock nostalgic, they pull out a track such as this one that has strong alternative influence, almost gothic even, with an almost Evanescence sound, with its spooky verses and by mixing some electronic elements in the background. But at its heart it is still a hard rock song, with a killer throat busting chorus.

Defeat Them All has other elements of alternative influence. The vocals sound like it could be a Paramore song, just with more distorted music to accompany the voice. The bridge of this song sounds like it could have been out of an 80’s New Wave of British Heavy Metal album, continuing the diverseness of the album. Away From You, heard later on the album, features a similar description. It mixes alternative influence with classic rock influence, this time sounding more like an 80’s hard rock song from bands like Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow in their later days or Yngwie Malmsteen minus the shredding.

The album gets right back in to its classic hard rock sound with In The Light. This track starts off strong and loud, like a song that could be played in an arena, topped off with the consistent clapping sound in the background throughout the song. Like so many other songs on the album, the verses of the song are sung soft and in an almost creepy fashion, but the song returns to its arena sound in its choruses.

The album ends on an electronic note. Share My Life has a lot of electronic experimenting to it. Not so much like Evanescence this time. This time around the song has almost all electronic features to it. It’s hard to tell if the drums you are hearing are really drums or are being fed through a machine, but the song has a killer guitar solo. Killer is actually an understatement. This continues on to the final track, Everyday. It isn’t certain what instruments are in fact being played and what is being put through a computer, BUT the song is unique one. It’s not hard rock, it sounds more like pop-rock, which with this being just the first EP released by the band, it is really just their way of showing the diverseness in their sound. I would compare this songs style very much to the style of Roxette...just with chipmunk vocals heard every now and then.

The end result is a terrific effort by an up and coming band. All seven songs are completely different from one another, which causes for some inconsistency in the sense that if you were to hear just one song you would get the wrong idea of the band. You’d have to listen to the whole album to get a proper idea of the band’s sound. If you live in the Toronto area, I’d suggest checking out their live shows. They put everything they have in to their shows and more. Get their album on iTunes or from one of their shows, it shows a lot of promise.


Defeat Them All” This song displays the most talent from a song writing perspective. Though it holds its influences on its sleeve, the band puts every bit of their own sound in to every note that is played. Jeanette puts forward her best vocal performance. She doesn’t hit all of the pitches that she’s capable of, but to be a good singer, you don’t have to always sing loud. In this case, it’s her melodic capabilities and her intelligence behind how she uses her voice in the verses, chorus and the bridge. Musically, the song may be a slower pace, but it’s heavy enough to please any hard rock fan, while still appealing to fans of other genres of rock such as alternative.



7.5 (Out of 10)


Track List:

"Skipping Stones"
"Defeat Them All"  
"In The Light"  
"Away From You"  
"Share My Life"

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