The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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New Jack Johnson album wipes out

Well known for his mellow, laid-back surfer tunes, Jack Johnson has created his own sound that’s easy on the ears and never causes too much of a stir in the waters. Despite his past albums going platinum, plus 2006’s “Curious George” soundtrack, Johnson still maintains street cred as a respected musician of our generation. But in his most recent recording effort, “Sleep Through the Static,” Johnson puts creativity on the backburner. This results in a stagnant lineup of 14 unimpressive tracks, making the name of the album quite fitting for its content (or lack thereof).

As many of his fans know, Jack Johnson did not start out as the soulful, soothing musician he is known to be today. A former pro surfer sponsored by Quiksilver, Johnson began writing songs when he was a college student at the University of California at Santa Barbara. His talent for creating music didn’t go unnoticed. By the end of his academic career, he steered away from pro surfing to ride the musical wave.

Since his emergence as a singer-songwriter, Johnson has gained noteworthy success for his musical efforts. His previous records have each been compilations of catchy, energetic tunes laced with clever lyrics heard in billboard hits such as “Bubble Toes,” “Taylor” and “Flake.” With the most recent “Sleep Through the Static,” Johnson promised a much darker theme for his sound, teaming up for the second time with Ben Harper’s producer, JP Plunier, and adding Zach Gill, (his touring keyboard player) to produce a funkier style. Instead of shaking up the nature-focused, almost zen-like state his music creates, Johnson does the exact opposite to further solidify his image as a surfer gone soft.

The album starts out with the song “All at Once,” with just Johnson and a delayed electric guitar, eventually adding a procession of drums, piano and an acoustic guitar into the mix. This calls to question as to why he would even reference his “punk rock” past to the new album, when the first track can hardly be remembered after you hear it. Skip this song and you get the title track, which surprisingly makes up for the first three minutes of boredom, if you can bear listening all the way through it. Johnson displays his lyrical chops here, and possibly alludes to his stance on the Iraq war with “shock and awful thing to make somebody think/that they have to choose pushing the peace supporting the troops.” How original for a songwriter to bring politics and current events into his music!

Fast-forward through the disarray of music and lyrics toward the end of the album, where you’ll find the feeble backbone of “Sleep Through the Static.” The 10th song, “Go On,” is a more stripped down, slow track that ironically steals the spotlight from all the other songs on the disc. The song unintentionally reminds the listener of soft, gentle waves washing up on the beach, proving Johnson’s artistic ability to replicate what he is most passionate about through music, the sign of a genuine singer-songwriter.

The most interesting thing about “Sleep Through the Static” is perhaps how it was recorded: with 100 percent solar energy. This nifty little fact can be reaffirmed in big black letters on the back of the album, next to the anti-piracy warning. A hearty thanks to Jack for contributing more “eco-friendly,” if not earth-shattering, music to our environment; hopefully his efforts won’t go unnoticed.

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