Gig Economy – TIJ (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

I think as you grow older you fall into one of two (gross) generalisations. You can feel content with your record collection and your own musical equilibrium, and hermetically seal yourself in against encroaching fad and fashion with statements such as “music isn’t as good as it used to be,” and resign yourself to a life of nostalgia and sonic navel gazing. Or you continue to search for new musical experiences, a never ending quest for the latest sonic high and your new favourite band. There is a creative equivalent to this too. Many musicians eventually hang up their musical weapon of choice, or worse, join cover bands, revelling in someone else’s creation, aiming to soak up some of the cool and magic by association. Or they continue learning and moving, gene-splicing, hopping sonic boundaries, fusing and filleting music to create their own new sonic fingerprint. Thankfully, Barry Snaith, the man behind T (he) I (nconsistent) J (ukebox), falls into the latter category on both counts and Gig Economy, his debut solo record, is a wonderfully exploratory, genre-suckerpunching, collection of songs.

Let’s Defenestrate is a perfect example of just how oddball this all is…oddball being a complement of course. The title alone shows how his mind works, a paean to hurtling out of windows? And why not? It’s a song built of a slinky groove, a spoken word vocal line and a flash of outside the (juke)box thinking. And if that track on its own shows just how wonderfully creative his approach to making music is, it is the fact that the music here fires off in all inner of stylistic directions that shows just how fertile it is too. Not so much inconsistent, perhaps just wide-ranging, adventurous and brave.

Sing Me Something Sinister is a strange, meandering, oozing tune, one built of guitar, drone and a sense of claustrophobia, weaving dark sentiments and telling it like it is, There’s A Circus Going On In There is a scatter gun blast of raw-edged, staccato guitars and Touch and Go is a low-slung salvo of sneering six-strings, raucous indie vibes and pent-up punk energy. And then there is the glorious Cigarette Girl, a wild ride of adrenaline soaked grooves and clattering, creative chaos, and a swan song cover of Reward taking it from 80’s post-punk-pop into the realms of a blistering and incendiary 60’s garage rock. A place where it sounds surprisingly at home.

I’m not saying that Mr Snaith doesn’t care about anything. I’m not even suggesting that he doesn’t care what you think of him personally. But this album does suggest that he knows that if you are going to build a musical legacy, it might as well be one that shows you were happy to go your own way, do your own thing, tick your own boxes and play by your own rules, without the merest consideration for success or failure. Why worry about such arbitrarily imposed terms when you are having the time of your life, which he clearly is here?

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