Hands Of Time the debut album from Los Angeles based band The Janks is ear catching and attention grabbing as well as intriguing and ultimately with a little extra attention for full appreciation very enjoyable. The band has been gaining strong acclaim and support for their varied and surprising sounds in their homeland, with the album hitting worldwide that eager following is sure to grow and quickly.
Since forming in 2009 the band, made up of brothers Zack and Dylan Zmed and best friend Garth Herberg , has worked hard and intently on their eclectic rock/folk sounds and striking an identity in peoples thoughts with local shows and gigs across the US. Hands Of Time was recorded throughout 2010, the final fourteen tracks emerging from 30 prospective songs to give the release a vibrant and emotive substance as well as an air of unpredictability. In the words of Dylan Zmed upon the release “The album is like musical theatre, the first half develops the plot of a young boy who comes from a broken home, while the second reflects the visceral intensity of growing up from separated roots. At the end, we see there’s possibility for change” and though it is not as obvious as one imagines that is the overall sense one gets as the songs deliver their essences.
The album opens softly with the title track. Jangly melodies and smooth harmonies ooze from the song and its story telling as engaging guitars play eagerly around an intermittent teasing lure of a carnival hook. This leads into the country folk of ‘Billy The Kid’ and the following ‘Dead Man’. Both songs shuffle along with emotive elegance, delicate harmonies, and concise arrangements. Though soft sounds are in abundance there is a darker element lyrically that lines the songs behind the mellow beauty though it is not until further into the album that musically the tone also changes.
It is with the second half of Hands Of Time and ‘Rat Racers’ that distinct variations and enterprising sounds erupt out. This song after a soft slow start bursts into a reggae pulse and schizophrenic array of electrified sweet cacophony. Though the album to this point has been solid and more than agreeable it is from this point the release lights up. ‘Separation From Your Body’ is a good rock/folk song in the vein of Steely Dan and brings all the elements of the band’s songwriting into the open. Melodic and harmonious with an engaging discordant tension the song is one of the more memorable and powerful.
The electric scuzz of ‘Demon Dance’ and the lively dementia of the brilliant bouncy folk driven ‘Drama King’s Ball’ both raise the temperature wonderfully, the trio wasting no time by taking it easy on the intrigue and mystique of what is coming next. What is to follow is two again mesmeric tracks in the brief and addictive carnivalesque instrumental ‘Adolescence’ and ‘Child Prodigy’ a song that gives its own kind of rock opera inspired by the likes of Queen.
The album closes as it started with a couple of soft harmonic ballads which are impressive in their construction and sound but do feel as does the opening half of the release, like a drop in levels against the middle excitement. The album is ambitious and overall achieves its intentions admirably and at times wonderfully and for fans of the likes of Flaming Lips or Fleet Foxes this is a must investigate release.
Released on Cargo Records, Hands of Time is fresh and enterprisingly different, despite a little inconsistency though some of that can be put down to personal taste rather than quality. The Janks are without doubt a band to watch closely and their debut an album one to listen to often as each play reveals a little more of its depth and great enterprise.