Release Date: Mar 10, 2017
Record label: Polyvinyl
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Virtuous though it may be, patience is a difficult quality to capture in guitar rock, a medium that much prefers boldness, concision, and urgency. Perhaps that's why Bay Area multi-instrumentalist Melina Duterte's reverence for the human capacity to wait and think and grow comes across as a revelation on Everybody Works , her first official album as Jay Som. "Take time to figure it out," she advises on lead single "The Bus Song." In its context, she's caught between relationship statuses, assuring the object of her fixation that she'll "be the one who sticks around." As an introduction to an album full of reminders not to rush things, though, the line is a relief, enough to make you involuntarily exhale.
It's an irony of life, but when a person is straight up bummed, they just want to simmer in it, drop down and roll around in it. Melina Duterte, the mastermind behind Jay Som, has made a new record that's essentially an exercise in this melancholic, self-destructive mood. Jay Som's new record Everybody Works soaks itself in longing and empathy all while stretching the confines of what might be called “bedroom pop”.
22-year-old Jay Som (aka Melina Duterte) is one of those multi-hyphenate artists whose creative process feels less like she's a singer-songwriter-producer, but instead a chef who owns the farm and the restaurant. Every track on 'Everybody Works' comes out feeling completely free of anyone else's fingerprints. She crafts dreamy tunes that are simultaneously aloft with cloud-like serenity and very much anchored in real world, everyday anxieties and worries.
Bedroom recordings often forfeit audio fidelity for intimacy, but Melina Duterte proves that the right artist can balance both. As Jay Som, she has taken her personal, guitar-based songs out of her home and on the road with Mitski and Japanese Breakfast, honing the songwriting that made her early songs fascinating in preparation for this debut album that more than fulfills their promise. Everybody Works retains her economical songwriting while adding impressively intricate arrangements. Duterte writes in vivid detail without ever describing too much here.
Melina Duterte, who operates under the moniker Jay Som, has experienced a sharp upward trajectory since she drunkenly dropped her debut collection via Bandcamp. Whereas Turn Into was a hastily released random selection of nine songs that were effectively demos (albeit ones that displayed a surprising level of polish and promise given their lo-fi inception), Everybody Works is more like her debut proper. The record's title refers to Duterte's experience of familial cynicism toward her career choice.
Melina Duterte isn’t a belter; she delivers lyrics like gentle mantras, as if their repetition might produce a self-induced hypnosis, encircling herself in a world of her own making. "Sharing art, it's not for everyone. I'm still working on that," she recently told Pitchfork . And you could listen to Everybody Works , her debut album as Jay Som, a hundred times and still not feel as though Duterte is quite ready to completely open up.
Melina Duterte's alias is as unusual as the way she first attracted attention. Her bio explains that her moniker was derived from an on-line baby name generator (roughly translated to Victory Moon) and this debut arrived after she had reluctantly posted homemade "finished and unfinished" recordings to the Bandcamp site in late 2015. Those random, rough yet enticing indie rockers became a compilation titled Turn Into which led to this more conceptually focused debut full-length.