The J. Arthur Keenes band continues to impress me. Their previous abum, Computer Savvy has what I consider to be the finest piece of chip/ska ever written, a bouncy little 2 minute piece called Cluck, which I’ve listened to on repeat while jogging over 20 times straight without noticing. I’d have been happy to have a whole album of nothing less than these great ska and reggae influenced chiptune tracks. But you get so much more from a J. Arthur Keenes album.
On trying to describe their latest album, The Social Lion, I find myself referring to bands that are the furthest thing from chiptune; M. Ward, Pedro the Lion, Beck, early-Wilco come to mind, mixed in with bits of swing, cowboy music and of course more ska and reggae. The chiptune influences are still there, little reggae upstroke ARPstabs, occasionally swirly bending notes and most prominently a low, crunchy bass, however they are a lot less prominent than they were on Computer Savvy. It sounds as if someone took the instruments away from half M. Ward’s backing band and replaced them with Gameboys.
The most distinctive thing about Social Lion is the vocals. The lyrics are clever and memorable and you’ll find lots of memorable choruses and melodies. This album is a lot more cohesive than Computer Savvy. You can get a digital copy for $8 and for just $2 more, an awesome hard copy album. It may be the first chip/folk/reggae thing in your collection!