Album Review: Many Levels of Laughter by J Fernandez
Very Good, Based on 4 Critics
AllMusic - 70 Based on rating 7/10
By mingling contemporary and vintage instruments and effects, Chicago-based J Fernandez assembles pensive, novel neo-psychedelic lo-fi on his self-recorded debut long-player, Many Levels of Laughter. Instrumentation is led by late-'60s electronic sounds including Vox Jaguar organ and distorted guitars, together with contemporary effects, bass, drums, and not-to-be-overlooked saxophone, all wrapped in a raw, intimate presentation. Like a mix of the Doors, (fellow Chicagoans) Joan of Arc, and Grizzly Bear, with Robyn Hitchcock-reminiscent lilting-talky melodic tendencies, it comes off as sentimental, experimental, and fascinating all at once.
There is no shortage of psychedelic music in this world. The Levitation festival is proof of that. And while there are plenty of good tunes out there to help someone "trip balls," there is also a gigantic mess of derivativeness out there.J Fernandez is one of the psych rockers out there who played Levitation in Austin this year, but the Chicago native refuses to just simply plug in and tune out with his jams.
Like fellow Chicagoan Ryley Walker, J Fernandez finds his voice using decidedly ‘60s tools. Where Walker tapped into Astral Weeks folk, Fernandez’s debut, Many Levels of Laughter, fits bedroom pop into Krautrock grooves. Walker’s lyrics drip with pastoral romance, while Fernandez’s slip into heady interior streams of consciousness. Both luxuriate in open space, with jazz flourishes and airy psychedelia curling around their tight songs, though teaming with jazz musicians as Walker did on Primrose Green could have kept at bay this album’s occasional meandering feeling.
You know about the big releases each week, but what about those smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar. Don’t miss out on the smaller, lesser-known gems which might become some of your favourites. We’ve rounded up seven of the best new album releases from this week: catch up ….