Posted: April 13th, 2009
Contributed By: Nick
|Purchase @ iTunes
Release Date: March 31st, 2009 via Sounds+Sights
Jeff Rains (Vocals / Guitar)
Jason Anderson (Guitar)
Zach Ruetz (Guitar)
Joe Pitter (Bass)
Joe Schultz (Drums)
Overview: Jeff Rains was just a small town guy (sic), LIVIN’ IN A…. Luckily, I’m not 26 beers deep at 1:55 A.M. so I won’t continue with that mess. However Jeff Rains has no reason to stop believin’ in his musical journey, a trend that has continued since Rains’ first release in February 2006. The album was called, ironically enough, ‘Stories‘, and it didn’t just roll down the boulevard toward big sales-it hauled arse. In fact Jeff Rains and his crew single handedly moved over 10,000 units of ‘Stories‘, not bad for a humble bro from Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Rains decided to bounce from his Indiana turf and head north of the border to Toronto where he joined forces with producer Trevor Kustiak (Evans Blue, In My Coma) and began etching a new record. The duo hammered out new tunes and did some housekeeping on the old ones, resulting in a revamped and renewed ‘Stories‘ for 2009.
The Good: The twelve songs that comprise ‘Stories‘ are like twelve pairs of Jeff Rains’ shoes in which he has graciously allowed you to walk around, experiencing his reality first hand. The first kick you lace up is the slinky and assertive “Look In My Eyes”. At one turn a salve and the next a Dear John Letter, “Look In My Eyes” is bold, asking just as many questions as it answers. Jeffrey gets on bended knee and exhorts for a second chance at love on “So Easily”. Although “So Easily” is quite plaintive, Rains is able to find the strength to forget his former flame and also forgive himself, providing solace to a clearly shattered heart. The moody, flexible shuffle “Liar” showcases multi-faceted narration, as verse one, verse two, and every chorus occupy third person, second person, and first person angles respectively. “Five Minutes” is a heavyhearted slag that burns with a disturbingly addictive hook and perfectly synced musical and lyrical dynamics. Rains scoffs at an ex-vixen on the gritty and impellent “Pressure”, deploying bits of acrimony that are impressively concise and level-headed. The bittersweet perils of a good relationship swallowed up by its most sour times are the bullet points of “Hate”, which is chockfull of complementary guitar texturing. “Right or Wrong” is very Staind-ish and very memorable, bolstered by the faint taps of hand percussion and a bridge awash with the heavenly sounds of an orchestra. Breezy and colorful, “Fake” sports the album’s most stellar line which reads, “It feels like I am waiting like an inmate/Hoping for my someday”; how sick is that shit? “Wait” is super dazzling and whimsical. The track is galvanized by a string section perfectly flush with the acoustic guitar strumming, adding a bevy of rich warmth. At 2:42 into “Wait”, a Flamenco guitar shines through, yet another exquisite facet to this genius cut. The book on ‘Stories‘ closes with the lofty, luminous spectacle “Something New”, as Jeff “The Wise One” Rains sends you off with some slyly delivered advice to nibble on.
‘Stories‘ has two fables that stand out from the pack in “American Dream (The Story of David)” and “Hurricane”. The former is an eye-opening first-hand account of a homeless man gone astray. However the greatest part of the tune’s poignant storyline is how the impoverished fellow refuses to envy those who pass him by as he pleads for a buck, realizing that although he has little to call his own he is still on the same journey as everyone else-trying to capture that “American dream”; I give kudos to Rains for stripping away the blinders often caused by the egocentricity of the chase. “American Dream (The Story of David)” is outdone by “Hurricane”, which, simply put, is nothing short of flawless.
The Bad: The silkiness of “Hate” is marred by its abrasive “I f–king hate you” hook, fouling an otherwise tidy nest because of its cheesiness. Although the reoccurring militant-like pattern of “Something New” has good intentions, it comes off as a rigid hiccup that continually hinders the flow of an otherwise smooth song. As a collective unit, the ‘Stories‘ dozen are a little too cohesive, which restrains the impact of its strongest jaunts. Take away those three demerits and Rains is sitting on a 10 out of 10 album.
Bottomline: Rains delivers with ‘Stories‘, offering a twelve pack of songs that’s way, way more like a goodie bag to a 6 year old than another album to a jaded music critic. I urge you to listen to ‘Stories‘ and hope the ever-growing buzz surrounding Rains explodes someday soon. Above all, Jeff Rains’ music is real. And in a music world plagued by an epidemic of superficial computer generated trash, you can’t place a price on an album like ‘Stories‘ consummated by blood, sweat and tears rather than bud, sluts, and beers.
TuneLab Rating: 9 out of 10