It's easy to brush over the beginning days of a rock band and skip ahead to the sold-out concerts and best-selling albums. However, that messy "we're still figuring out what the hell we want to sound like" phase can be the best part. In the case of Seattle three-piece JAR, there's some really fantastic things brewing by a band that is collectively younger than Ozzy Osbourne.
Humans is a launching point, and a strong one at that. From the edgy opening-song "Clever Lullaby", to the softer, piano driven track "Should've Worked," there's a lot to praise. First off, 19-year-old lead vocalist and drummer (Yes, you read that right) John Thornburg has some massive chops. I'm pretty sure if he started a Circa Survive cover band he could put Anthony Green out of a job. Thornburg flawlessly switches between high and soaring to rough and angry in a matter of seconds, which is most evident on the title-track "Humans." Likewise, lead guitarist Russ Thornburg, 15, and bassist Julio Pasada, 19, help create a record that's rich in musical prowess and crammed with influences -- the guitar solo in "Nail" is not to be missed. Did I mention their lead guitarist is 15?
While there is much to praise on Humans, there's just as much to learn from. The main problem is a lack of cohesiveness and direction between the members and their varying styles. Melodies aren't as fleshed out as they could be, and there are awkward lulls sprinkled throughout where it's almost as if the band didn't quite know how the song should piece together. If the album were condensed, there are probably seven or eight really solid songs, which could then be cut into one hell of an EP.
But for now, there's no harm in throwing everything on the table. Want to scream then play a little piano ditty? Go for it. No judgement here. Humans is the blue print for a band that could have a mighty career ahead of them.