Album Review: JR WOLF ‘Al B EP’
After recording and mastering all the songs for their full-length self-titled debut, Hershey’s JR WOLF was stuck in neutral — lacking enough funds to manufacture and promote their album.
But with a then-upcoming July 2013 concert at the Al B Open (an annual golf tournament at Sportsman’s Golf Course in memory of Harrisburg-native Mark Alexander Baronowski), JR WOLF front man and songwriter Jason Wolfe saw an opportunity — and the five song Al B EP was released.
The five songs — all of which will be featured on their forthcoming full-length album due out this fall — are incredibly difficult to pigeon-hole into one genre or point to a singular influence. The band itself bills the album as “AlternaFolk JamRock” — so basically, JR WOLF is a musical melting pot.
The EP starts strong with “Rewind” — a really good, but short, rock song that brought to mind the Queens of the Stone Age with great guitar parts and a soaring solo. I was hoping that this song was a sign of things to come but the Al B EP quickly moves into instrumental number “Emm” — which forced me to double check my computer to make sure I wasn’t on hold with tech support — and never gets back to the bluesy, rock and roll.
JR WOLF then kicks into the fun “Skip ‘n’ Go Naked,” which leans heavily toward Sublime and even gives listeners (if you can understand it) a recipe for a summer cocktail with vodka, Natty Light and frozen lemonade concentrate from which the song took its name. While I thought this was the second best song on the album, it shines the light on a familiar void left in the JR WOLF formula — memorable choruses. In an interview a couple years back, Dave Grohl jokes that the key to songwriting is to remember “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” — and even though JR WOLF doesn’t nearly “bore” the listener, a big, melodic chorus instead of the static megaphone recipe chorus could have really taken this song in particular to another level.
The EP closes out with folksy “Flash” complete with a nice slide guitar and the Jack Johnson acoustic jam “Credits” — where Jason Wolf sings, “I hope that life’s like a movie, figure it out in the end.”
And JR WOLF may not have it figured it all out yet — they have a lot of good things on this EP musically (especially the lead guitar) that will get me to listen to the other songs that will be on their upcoming full-length album.
While JR WOLF’s debut album won’t be out until sometime this fall, you can catch them locally next Friday, April 18 at Bube’s Brewery in Mount Joy and also at the Susquehanna Ale House on Jonestown Road in Harrisburg on Saturday, April 26.