Jason Cruz and Howl - LoungeCore
Record Label: Echotone Records
Release Date: July 27, 2012
Jason Cruz is frontman for the legendary punk band Strung Out. LoungeCore is his solo debut.
How is it?
As an EP it is a fine effort but certainly lacks the staying power of those he's trying to emulate. Off-hand the EP sounds quite a bit like Chris Isaak, Dwight Yoakam and Elvis Presley. There's a decidedly old-school sound on "Blue Jesus," in which his burly voice partners well with sturdy Americana fare. Its successor "Spahn Ranch," on the other hand is grungy, raw and entirely off-the-cuff. There is appeal and charm here and in truth the entire arrangement actually works well with Cruz' punk ethos.
The best of the set is "When They Finally Get Me," a raw and ragged rocker about death that is definitively poppy, buoyant and truly irresistible. LoungeCore closes out with "The Lonesome Grave of Celia Browne," a seasoned slice of Americana in which Cruz's burly vocals once again channel Yoakam and smoky guitar riffs snake and slither across the speakers. While LoungeCore is nuanced and refined, there's something about the effort that feels detached. Perhaps its the brevity of the work and given an LP, Cruz might come off more convincing and indelible, but as it stands now LoungeCore is good. Cruz has all the talent to make his next effort great, it's just a matter of seeing that come to fruition.