Band Site: www.AustinJonesBand.com
What we have here is a followup EP from the Houston-based Austin Jones Band. The band is led by Austin Jones (lead vox, guitar) with help from Ashton Neagle (guitar, synth), Gary Vanderwiele (bass), Christie Green (guitar) and Chuck Green (drums).
According to their bio the band has played all around the Greater Houston area at noted venues such as Walters Downtown, Jet Lounge, Warehouse Live, and Cullen’s Live. The Austin Jones band shot a new video that they rolled out consecutively with this release (check their Youtube channel). According to the band, all members are highly-skilled musicians from the Houston area, with Austin Jones being highly in demand as a guitar teacher with over 120 students.
With such a heavy claim my first reaction upon hearing this CD was “someone is paying this guy to teach them guitar?”.
Honestly, while no slouch, I don't hear anything on the axe that a decent intermediary player can't handle. For one, he doesn't even take a single lead on 5 song EP, and some of the songs desperately need a bit more dynamics. It is possible that he teaches cowboy chords to beginners, but come on, you're a guitar teacher – show us what you can do! Maybe he is busy singing...but still, if you want to hear what a guitar teacher can do, check out local teachers and musicians Rusty Cooley or Don LaFon and then compare. In comparison, this guy just phones it in!
With that in mind, the musicianship on the EP is not bad, everything is in its place, with nothing really sticking out as exceptional, so I take the “highly-skilled” claim as an overzealous PR people sprinkling fairy dust. They're decent, in-the-pocket-players, but I'd stop there. Well, the drums maybe travel a touch out of pocket as a few places were bit off. Not that this in and itself is a bad thing, look at the Beatles – none of them were as good as contemporaries Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck and they've managed to outsell both. The Austin Jones Band compares its sound to Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, and Kings of Leon. I would go further back and compare them to U2. I mean they've completely copped out The Edge's sound and the rhythm section's drive, like a copy of U2's more eclectic songs.
Regardless of that, The Austin Jones Band writes decent tunes and apparently fans like them as this EP was partially crowd-funded through Pledge Music. I give props to the studio – Ivory Tower Records (Houston, Tx) did a fine job on the production, everything is polished, mix sounds great. Austin's voice is quite pleasant and he handles the tunes well, in a fashion that again begs comparison to the above mentioned band. I like the bass/drum interaction in the title song, it seemed to drive a solid groove that left a good impression and I kept going back to that as the highlight. I just can't seem to get away from the fact that I don't hear anything original on here, like the production and the money went towards something that U2 have done much much better ages ago...or maybe they were just the first to do it?
This is why record labels hire producers and unfortunately indie bands can walk into these financial pitfalls, do all the work (spend $$$ at studio, work at promos, etc.) without thinking through the initial concept, which is asking “do we have something worth releasing?” Well, if you like that kind of sound, the Austin Jones Band sounds solid, the EP is well produced, if somewhat devoid of originality. I personally encourage them to inject more of themselves into the music and let those musicians take some risk at solo spots, or maybe even more varying vocal arrangements.
Reviewed by: A. Dorian