Jaala - Hard Hold - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Jaala - Hard Hold

by Mark Steele Rating:8 Release Date:2015-12-08

Unwilling to play straight 4/4 songs and follow the crowd in being diva-cloned or a bargain-bin pop-rock band with bland material, Melbourne four-piece; Jaala. Made up of Cosmina Jaala (former Queensland native), Nic Lam – guitar; Loretta Wild – bass; Maria Moles – drums, They are a musical unit ready to challenge the status quo. Their debut full-length album, Hard Hold, possesses an urge to scratch the annoying itch of current sounds and clichés.

For those working out the mystery behind the album artwork of a Cosima all shabby-haired, garbed in a furry bolero-jacket, sporting a pair of goat horns, the following could be the meaning behind it: ‘Jaala’ is a name mentioned in the Old Testament, according to the King James Bible, it states: “A wild she-goat, one of the Nethinim, (Nehemiah. 7:58).” A wild she-goat? That may well be a very close analogy for an artist: curious in nature and quite independent, as the group’s experimental musical concoction stems from prying into and extracting from various styles such as jazz fusion, rock, R&B, and punk, with no one genre clearly dominating.

The helping hand, in the album's seven-day-long production is Paul Gober, bass player of fellow antipodean futuristic jazz-funkateers Hiatus Kaiyote, who has steered the music into a thinking man’s glitch-rock. Hard Hold commences with the title namesake. It is a what-could-have-been sad song, held together by rallied-through guitar chord changes, anchored, paralleled bass with neat drum chops. It, along with ‘Double Dutch’, induces flashbacks to Jeff Buckley’s ‘So Real’.

Cosima brings to the table on this song and other tracks a pungent Gwen Stefani/Bjork whining, weaving whimsically melodies, aching cries and angst-filled screams.  The songs on offer here all have their own eccentric attraction and tale to tell, with it mainly due to Cosima’s quirky vocal expressions. ‘Ticket’ (Sounds very Led Zeppelin I & II albums in tone) and ‘Warsong’ are two sides of the same scatty jazz hard rock fusion coin and re-introduces the familiar 1970‘s progressive music formula with a sharp twist – minus the elongated solos. Actually the solos are what could make the recording more edgy, but that could be an instalment in subsequent recordings.

‘Order’ feels like early Artic Monkeys ska-skanking with The Clash, the soulful ‘Salt Shaker’ sounds like Cosima giving a guilt stab and pain relief at leaving family behind in her coastal hometown, and maybe a grudge with local religious and drunken hangouts she says “Those happy-holy-heinous houses/ They spread out and out for mileses/I’d rather give my two good playing hands/than to stay in that hot climate with every one of those men/They’ll forgive me when they’re dead/They’ll forgive me when they’re dead and gone”. The reverb drenched ‘Lowlands’ calmly sidesteps allowing the surreal dreamy to light irritable overtones on the guitars to ring out.  Last but not least number ‘Hymn’ is an emotional stuck loop rhythmic carousel caught in a steady moving shoegaze vortex of guitar strata.

A few listens maybe advised for some of us to appreciate and digest Hard Hold’s multifarious rhythmic and harmonic complexities. As this is a band carving their own identity alongside Hiatus Kaiyote, and are simultaneously introducing a new generation of Pop, Rock and R&B listeners to explore seemingly elitist musical avenues. In doing so, Jaala have paved the way for up and coming artists to assist in breaking down the walls of mediocrity, to usher in a brave new musical world.

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