CD REVIEW: Jacob Hungsberg - Trade Winds
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Genre: Alternative Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Sounds Like: Pink Floyd, Cocteau Twins, The Verve, Radiohead, Beck, Franz Ferdinand, Death Cab for Cutie.
Jacob Hungsberg was introduced to a variety of music from Stevie Ray Vaughn and Robert Johnson to Chet Baker and Miles Davis. From Sam Cooke and The Everly Brothers to The Beach Boys, Mozart, Bob Dylan and The Beatles early on. Hungsberg admits trying to squeeze elements of all genres into his own music. He continued writing and recording through high school and into college. His latest 4 track EP is entitled “Trade Winds” was released in 2014.
First up Track 1 “No Outlet” serves up enticing guitar ridden ambience, meshed against hypnotic lyrical content, strong melody and mesmerizing vocals from Hungsberg. This intro track sets the tone rather well for a melodic EP like this. Track 2 “Foolish Things” shifts gears a bit with its soothing melody that continues to build into a passionate yet psychedelic alternative Rock ditty complete with impassioned vocal presence and impressive harmonies. Track 3 “Red Leaf” serves up yet another upbeat track with thought provoking lyrical content that floes and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. As these songs slowly unfolded I could hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Pink Floyd, Cocteau Twins, The Verve, Radiohead, Beck, Franz Ferdinand, Death Cab for Cutie. I can even hear a bit of classic Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett. I would classify this music as Alternative Rock, with a slight aftertaste of Progressive yet trippy Psychedelic Rock that is unpredictable and melodic. The songs themselves are melodic, eccentric, fascinating, and highly original - all reflections of the artist no doubt. One can't notice intellectual, passionate and powerful subject matter delivered between the spoken word, with a heavy dose of raw truth and even keeled vocal emotion on the side. The musicianship is rock solid across the board. Hungsberg and company showcase rock solid production instincts throughout. Besides the 4 piece standard you will also notice things like beats and rhythms, sporadic percussion. melodic strings, Acoustic and Electric guitar, Organ and Keyboard, synthetic sound effects and lush harmonies. Equally as impressive is the how Hungsberg makes each song his own making a distinct and strong (singer to listener) vocal connection within each piece. Hungsberg has an appealing timber and is a good songwriter within his own right. The songs themselves are a bit reckless, beckoning, progressive and packed to the hilt with passion. Hungsberg’s laid back vocal style works with respect to this style of music. What I like most about the music is its even keeled intensity, intellectualism and consistency. All songs are short and sweet musical experiences, never too winded, never to short. This EP as something for just about everyone. EP ends with Track 4 “Story of the Year” the perfect finale statement for an EP like this.
I don’t recall hearing a drum kit on 3 of the 4 songs on the EP. Many song would have benefited from a drum beat – whether electronic or acoustic. I don’t care how the vocals sit within the sonic space – a bit buried within the mix and saturated with reverb. Mix is a bit off kilter sounding a bit amateurish to me on high end speakers lacking low end frequency and crystal clear high end clarity. I wish there was more vocal intensity and emotion from Hungsberg especially doing the finale moments of the music. Overall he needs to come out his shell more vocally and take more vocal risks throughout his music.. I wish there were more solo segments throughout the EP. I typically deduct 1 star for EP releases as the full length releases is the best and most complete snapshot to judge an artists by at any given moment in time.
In close “Trade Winds" by Jacob Hungsberg is a highly original, somewhat unpredictable and fascinating musical experience from start to finish. Although it's primarily alt-rock based you never know what's coming round the corner with Hungsberg. The music is fresh and highly entertaining. Its strong suit – the highly original artistic perspective you get from Hungsberg via impressive songwriting. The songs are extremely melodic, passionate, and captivating and somewhat melancholy. All these songs have a ring of truth to them.
Cyrus Rhodes Rhodes