Sparks, Flames & Names may be an EP, but JIP doesn't half-ass anything here. Frontman Jim Gwynn scoured the Chicago music scene on a mission to collaborate with artists of all varieties.
What results is a solid, satisfying album that takes its influence from the best of many sounds -- from Ben Kweller and Ben Folds to other homegrown acts like Local H and the Smashing Pumpkins (see the video for "Shudder" below). Also swaying the sound is a unique collaborator-per-song idea, which features Shaun Hague, Buick Audra (Grammy winner), Nickolas Blazina (of State & Madison), Lil' Teena Marie, Joanna Stanielum (of Halfmoon Mad), Rachel McClusky and Edison.
Gwynn's flexible songwriting skills skip from jangly blues ("Shift") to piano ballad ("You've Become My Life") to handclap 'n hand drum acoustic jams ("Our City By the Lake" and "Little Light"), and unique rock sound is found. But most impressive is Gwynn's voice, which seemingly adapts itself to any situation. If dude suddenly found himself surrounded by chanting Tibetan Monks, he could probably throw on a bathrobe and have himself a new career. These songs sound great stripped-down, but I also envision them sung over a full orchestra.
With bassist Joe D'onofrio and percussionist Mike Charbonneau (if I misspelled your names you still owe me a beer, because that wasn't easy) rounding out the now three-piece band, the full JIP attack is ready to fly. This album was conceived as a breakup record, but, much like the bluest of blues jams, it will leave you refreshed and ready to tackle whatever's next. Parts of it seem mellower than previous JIP endeavors, but no less heavy-hitting.
The official record release jam for JIP, Sparks, Flames & Names will be October 12th at Hard Rock Chicago.
This EP is available NOW via digital download through iTunes, Amazon and many other highly-recognizable, at-your-fingertips outlets.
Here's the website: GetJip.com
Get it or get gypped (Ha!).