National Review: EP No. 01 by Smoke and Jackal

Posted on October 22, 2012 in Album Reviews, Arts & Culture
By Sam Hill

Sam Hill | The Free Press

EP No. 01 is the debut release of the alternative, southern rock group Smoke and Jackal, which consists of already accomplished musicians Nick Brown, guitarist and vocalist for Mona, and Kings of Leon bassist, Jared Followill.

The seven-track EP was recorded within a week at Brown’s home studio in Nashville, Tenn. Bringing two accomplished musicians to collaborate on a record within a the span of a week is tricky business, avoiding artistic disputes on a deadline, but the duo came together to produce a polished product without any issues. They were able to leave the ego behind and relax to create the most chill set of tracks. This album works on every level. It’s something you’ll want to listen to without distraction, laying alone on your bedroom floor.

The opening track, “Fall Around,” will have you zoned out and bobbing your head instantly. Followill’s lucid bassline draws you in and steers the track without being overbearing. It sounds like a cross between the Bon Iver’s album For Emma, Forever Ago blended with Radiohead’s song “Reckoner.” It’s so versatile, too. You could play this song to help you go to sleep or blast it at a laid-back party. It’s a surreal experience, really making you feel out of yourself and involved with the music. It’s an impressive work to say the least.

Brown’s vocal belting on “You’re Lost” will leave a stamp on your mind, following you throughout the day and forcing you to hit that repeat button over and over again. The track is kept alive by his voice as it constantly builds up, climaxing only in the final moments of the song. Brown makes his mark throughout the entire album, creating a style very different from his work with Mona without entirely abandoning the aspects of his work that fans have come to know and love.

The duo has definitely managed to create a unique sound separate from Smoke and Jackal’s parent-bands. “Ok Ok” is the only track that sounds similar to either of their previous projects. EP No. 01 is atmospheric. It feels like wet, empty city streets. It’s an emotional album, but not for the sake of being emotional. It doesn’t force you into a relaxed, dreamlike haze, but invites you with open arms.