Jumbling Towers: "I Don’t Feel the Same” / "It Felt South American"
By Conrad Amenta | 28 October 2013
Jumbling Towers are a band I stumbled upon somewhat early in my CMG tenure, having first reviewed their Classy Entertainment EP back in 2008. Against somewhat daunting odds, I’ve kept up with them. Despite a deluge of new music, Jumbling Towers are a band that float to the top of the promos and rips and stick there. It’s as if I’ve purchased some stock and am hoping it appreciates, taking hold among a greater segment of the population. The band is so effortlessly listenable that I’m holding out hope.
It’s not hard to understand why this is so for me. The band sits at an intersection of styles that a lifetime Talking Heads nut will naturally respond to, pinging cosmopolitan impulses in the pleasure centers of my brain. There’s the flux of modern synths and traditional rhythms; the idiosyncratic vocals; the primacy of melody above all else in these arrangements. But I think the greatest gratification has been to watch as a small, independent band hone their craft over a series of underappreciated releases.
Which brings me to their latest singles, “I Don’t Feel the Same” and the excellent “It Felt South American.” These songs, more than perhaps anything the band has done, are stripped down to their melodic cores. Prefab beats and low-profile keys and bass burble pleasantly under Joe DeBoer’s cyclical vocal melodies. These songs hum like the product of a live-in craft.
It’s not groundbreaking, or even groundbreaking for this band, but there’s a continuity at work here—a consistency in their production—that makes this quiet, elegant, confident release worth a look. Listen to the way the shaker and blinking overtones creep in after the first chorus of “I Don’t Feel the Same”; this is no histrionics, no grand gesture. The hint of drums that followed had me thinking, strangely, of “Crimson & Clover,” though perhaps it’s not so strange for what amounts to two infectious mid-tempo jams. “It Felt South American” is a similarly innocuous bauble, setting out its groove early and letting it unfurl uncomplicatedly.
The release is a business card of sorts, a reminder from a band that I’ve long admired that they’re still at it and can build an unpretentious song without much in the way of the gimmicks and stylistic overhauls. If you’ve not yet heard of Jumbling Towers, then let this be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.