Tuesday, May 9, 2017

That One Eyed Kid - Crash and Burn

That One Eyed Kid - Crash and Burn 

The East Coast seems to produce a lot of acts like That One Eyed Kid. Living in the nation’s major metropolitian centers seems to embolden some with blindness towards the way things are usually done and spurs them to think outside the box in big and small ways. Josh Friedman’s band project That One Eyed Kid deserves the aforementioned description. The ambitions of the music on Crash and Burn, That One Eyed Kid’s third EP, don’t announce themselves with trumpets and clarion calls heard across the world. Friedman, instead, makes the improbable reality by bringing some seemingly foreign musical styles together in a highly individualistic mix marked by powerful melodies and lyrics seemingly torn from his autobiography. The effect is highly entertaining and moving all at once. It is rare, during any past golden age or today, to discover music so good that it engages its audience on both the mental and physical level. That One Eyed Kid does this with tremendous flair.  

“Bright Big Red” has ample style and easy going sophistication to burn. This might be the EP’s peak for some listeners and it isn’t hard to blame them. Friedman’s performance and recording make this comparatively simple song sound like a perfectly proportioned style piece with not a single not or word out of place. The quasi guitar rave ups that punctuate the verses and bridges add a bit of spice to the mix and Friedman’s voice effortlessly shifts gears throughout. Some of that sophistication is sacrificed on the EP’s second song “Burn Out Right” in favor of much punchier approach, but Friedman can’t resist sprinkling colorful fills throughout both the musical arrangement and his vocal. This is a songwriter and performer who understands how to orchestrate his material for ideal effect and those results bear fruit on Crash and Burn time and again.  

He turns a little with the song “Native Advertising” and dispenses with the more minimalist approach displayed during the first two tracks in favor of a more forceful, even aggressive, musical attack. It is never abrasive however and retains the same aforementioned welcoming qualities. It’s interesting to note with this song how artfully Friedman makes his influences felt in the music, yet their discernible behind all the modern window dressing. “No Touching”, however, is pure unvarnished soul and funk in a largely electronic setting. Friedman proves he’s up to the emotive challenge and also shows a vocal range that the previous songs only discreetly hint at. The EP’s final cut “Rewind” has the unique distinction of bringing together all of Crash and Burn’s strengths in one track. It may not stick with listeners as readily as the opener, for instance, but it’s a track that demands repeated listening. This five song collection makes an impressively hefty artistic statement without ever beating its own chest about it and this quality, if nothing else, makes That One Eyed Kid’s Crash and Burn essential listening for 2017. 

Charles Hatton 

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