The latest mixtape from US-based, recently formed production outfit Wavy Jones ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ explores a number of different music genres and is crammed with ideas.
Featuring the work of beatmakers DJ MUNday and Vinny Goldberg, shining with all kinds of promise, the tracklisting feels cohesive and like a collection throughout its duration – even when it shouldn’t.
While the arrangements themselves suffer from no major voids, a problem lies within the album’s overall presentation and general production value.
The synths used on ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ can sound basic.
The worst offenders feel demo-y, they undermine the impact certain tracks could have and furthermore imprison the LP in an amateurish bubble from which it doesn’t really escape.
Of course, nowadays all kinds of breaking/DIY music artists on limited funds record material in make shift studios.
Yet regardless of how much or little ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ actually cost to make, several of its instrumentals sound comparatively low budget and unrefined – this is especially distracting since ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ is essentially vocal free.
It’s easy to envision casual listeners, spoiled for choice in today’s stream-ready, immediate, on-demand music scene, being quickly turned off by this.
Partly due to the aforementioned issue, the record’s continuous attempts at experimentalism feel overly ambitious – like eager attempts to cover ground already crossed by charting artists.
In the case of ‘The Chasm Ate It’ and similar tunes, the group’s grandiose visions feel premature. Wavy Jones’ ability to be experimental, as well as slick and polished to an industry standard, is not completely there – yet.
As a result, the LP’s more out-of-the-box efforts don’t leave a lasting mark.
Interestingly though, the impactful cuts on ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ – the ones that stand the best chance of realistically competing in the big bad music industry – are based in and around R&B and hip-hop.
‘Shanked’ is intriguing. Elevated by a light effortlessness, the R&B/soul tune brings darkness, mystery and much needed intricacy to the tracklisting.
It whips up a sense of sexiness and although it eventually morphs into something altogether less gripping, ‘Shanked’ stays slick – and worlds away from the project’s low points.
‘Ranger Danger’ is a tougher, old-skool hip-hop instrumental. At just under two minutes long, the arresting cut begs to be extended and craves polish – on the other hand, it should surely appeal to lyricists looking for an unfurnished edge to their beats.
A contemporary, urban club feel is visited on ‘Double Bogey’. Again, its elements don’t always feel particularly glossy – yet a hard to resist bump propels the cut’s encouraging beatwork forward.
Working another formidable bassline, hip-hop instrumental ‘Cellz’ proves Wavy Jones understand the fundamentals of a decent rap tune.
But again, because a ‘made with logic’ feel blights it – and is sure to keep it off today’s stringent urban radio – ‘Cellz’ would benefit from flashier, luxurious sounding synths and instrumental pads.
‘Down In The Villas’ and single ‘Weekend’ would also be enhanced by something similar – then again the latter’s reachability slowly generates appeal. ‘Weekend’ might be the one tune on ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ which benefits from a no-frills sort of setup.
On more than a few occasions the record’s better ideas are presented as snippets or previews, while the more mundane, everyday compositions are given the full on treatment – which is a shame.
Before ‘Arnie’ descends into something overly complicated, it attractively brings together dance beats with flute sounds – whilst managing to maintain spacious breathing room.
It could be said of the entire record that the inclusion of specialised vox pops and clips of casual conversation is overdone, however this is especially true of ‘Arnie’ – the music should be allowed to do more of the talking.
The experimental elements peppered throughout ‘7-Irons’ fracture the aura of the track somewhat.
That being said, as the tune plays out, things get sharper and more professional sounding. Its wickedly warped, inviting eighties synths and deep, rounded beats standout.
The main guitar riff of ‘Vicodin’ is stylish and gives the tune a swag that is appealing. Background vocals are eventually brought in, making things more wholesome.
Contrasting hugely with the tracks it’s sandwiched between, ‘Swishers’ a delicate string-laden affair. The tune allows Wavy Jones to successfully explore more musical ground.
The latter third of ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ can get comfortable, at times sliding into easy listening territory. The friendly, unhurried, almost whimsical ‘17th’ for example, would easily fit into the background of a cutesy, fantasy video game.
Similar to the atmospheric, dreamy, lushly light twilight core of ‘Kart Me Off’ – though vastly superior – the end of day vibe hinted at within the title of ‘Mansard Sunset’ is communicated attractively on the tune itself.
Despite the cut’s alert basslines and energy, it almost transports listeners to the beach of their choice. Between hopeful piano tones, a psychedelic vibe even creeps in periodically.
Verdict: Packed with charm and absolutely heaving with inventive, creative ideas ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ drips in potential.
However, it plays out like something only the group’s inner circle would truly enjoy.
Because the project’s general sound doesn’t quite shake off an ‘I did this in my bedroom’ feel, it’s unlikely ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ will be the material that introduces Wavy Jones to a wider audience.