Jonathan Inc.: Things Done and Left Undone (Anniedale Records, 2004)

by Jason

arr_jonathaninc_cover_gross_rgbJonathan Inc Things Done and Left Undone landed on my desk some weeks ago through contact from the band. Regretfully, life got in the way and the disc sat there for a few weeks before I was able to start digesting it. I say regretfully because this disc should have been spinning in my player for that entire time. Jonathan Inc, if I were to make a comparison, is something melodically like Low and LN with the subtle touches of Ida and pop sensibilities of The Pernice Brothers. Anderson‘s voice is strong throughout the album and the arrangements are consistently subtle and yet complex.

The album opens with “Reading Between the Lines,” which is actually one of the highlights of the disc for me. This is a slow tempo tune, both intricate and complex. This track definitely displays Gary Murray style electric guitar work with a melodic structure akin to Sparhawk‘s. There are stings in the mix as well as very intricate drum work. “Cat Burglar” is also orchestrated complexly with slow tempo melodies and stings. This song has a splendid pop
feel to it with a sort of Tom Petty feel in the mix. Anderson‘s voice is fantastic. He really conveys the feeling of the song. Another thing I have noticed about their writing is that it is patient. Jonathan and company obviously arrange their songs very intentionally.

“Relentless” is a very quiet song. It is more straightforward in its melody, but Jonathan Inc. seems to still be able to make simple melodies take on a complex beauty like few bands can. Anderson croons, “So you persist/Restless as the pounding waves on the ocean shore/over and over/and like a fool/you return to be beaten down.” Honestly, I am a sucker for bands that can take such hard imagery and place it over beautiful instrumentation. Jonathan Inc does this with expertise and refinement. Another highlight on this album is the track “One Year.” It is also a subtle song musically with strong emotions at the helm of the lyrics. “One year/One Year/ How did I end up here?/But not you/you somehow gathered up and got out of all these things/that take me away.”

“Never Tell” has a great, catchy melody. It is a medium tempo tune laced with stings, acoustic guitar, and interesting keys. Anderson‘s vocals are subtle and more breathy in parts, giving this song a slightly different feel than the rest of the tracks. “There is No Sound” is probably the song I would call truly slo-core in nature on the disc. This song has sparse arrangements and quiet percussion. As you get to the end of the album, one thing that strikes the listener is the ability of this band to compose complex pop songs and slow stripped down songs both on the same level of expertise. It’s beautiful when one finds a band of this caliber. Indie-pop bands are a dime-a-dozen these days and few have the ability to rise above the rest and make a mark. I believe Jonathan Inc. has succeeded in contributing something to this genre that blends the subtleness of Low and Ida with the pop found in bands like The Pernice Brothers and The Shins. I look forward to future releases from this band. I am an instant fan!

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