APRIL 4, 2013 UPDATE: We are going to debut the new single “Magnetized” during “Johnny Hates Jazz Request Week” on our 24/7 global broadcast here at Radio Creme Brulee.
Things had been relatively quiet since sophisticated pop/rock act Johnny Hates Jazz (known for hits such as “Shattered Dreams” and “I Don’t Want to be a hero”) announced the completion of their first studio album in over 20 years in March of this year. The announcement met with a lot of excitement – especially for that generation that looks at Johnny Hates Jazz as one of the symbols of a very creative period in pop music – a time when melody and richly-textured harmony was king. There was absolutely no follow-up to that news until recently when the band previewed 40-second snippets of nine out of the 10 tracks slated for inclusion on the new and “yet to be titled” Johnny Hates Jazz album.
I have to preface this blog post by saying that my take on the new material might change dramatically after I hear the new Johnny Hates Jazz album in its entirety. I am devoting this post solely to first impressions based on the 40-second snippets of the songs that have been previewed so far.
After having listened to the song snippets, the first thought that comes to mind is that for most of the album, two distinct flavors emerge within the album. The first is a quintessentially American modern-rock flavor that jumps out on tracks such as “You Belong To You”, “Never More”, “Man With No Name”, and “Lighthouse” (a very radio-friendly track). I perceive this as a positive thing in that it will undoubtedly help Johnny Hates Jazz shed the “80s” label and will reposition them as a band of the new millennium.
The second flavor is a MOR adult contemporary one that shines through on tracks such as “Release You”, “Road Not Taken” and “Ghost Of Love”.
There are two tracks that do not completely fit either of the two molds highlighted earlier. The first of these two tracks is “Magnetized“. A band such as Johnny Hates Jazz that has been out of the limelight for two decades requires a lead single that is instant and that can hold up well against their signature track “Shattered Dreams”. Fortunately, “Magnetized“ fits that requirement very well. The chorus is insanely catchy. I can barely wait to hear the entire song.
The second of the two tracks is one of the big surprises for me. It is a song called “Eternal”. The picture this song snippets paints is that of a movie scene (towards the end of the movie) in which a heart-broken Hugh Grant is walking in the rain pondering over a romance that could have been. Johnny Hates Jazz absolutely has to license this song for inclusion on a soundtrack of the next high-profile British romantic comedy. “Eternal”, with lead singer Clark Datchler’s smooth vocals, and lush string arrangements, could be a modern romantic classic in the same vein as songs such as “Love is all around” by Wet Wet Wet, “Kiss from a rose” by Seal, “I don’t want to miss a thing” by Aerosmith, and “Have you ever really loved a woman” by Bryan Adams.
The common thread that runs through all snippets is the top-notch production value created by Mike Nocito and the smooth (and terribly missed) vocals of lead singer Clark Datchler.
My only concern with the new material is the exclusion of a beautiful piano section (played by Clark Datchler) that the band previewed via the band’s facebook fan page last year. It is not clear what track this section is on but I have to admit that it went a long way in creating my appetite for the new Johnny Hates Jazz album. Here is a video clip of that piano section.
Last summer, I had the privilege of interviewing Clark Datchler and Mike Nocito from Johnny Hates Jazz in the midst of the recording process for their new album. I did ask them how they would reconcile the seemingly opposing needs of maintaining the sound they had created on their landmark album “Turn back the clock” while also creating a sound that was relevant in 2012. Based on the song snippets, it was pretty evident that Johnny Hates Jazz has risen to that challenge and is on the verge of giving us a Johnny Hates Jazz album that stays true to the band’s trademark sound while fitting comfortably within the realms of 2012’s pop music landscape.
Listen to snippets from the new Johnny Hates Jazz album by CLICKING HERE.
RADIO ALERT: We feature a lot of new music by artists that rose to prominence in the 80s and 90s alongside music by newer musicians. If you have not given our radio station a spin, you might be missing something. IF you are reading this on a smartphone, CLICK HERE to listen to our broadcast. If not, CLICK on the button below to launch our 24/7 global broadcast.