JESUS VIO is a songwriter best known for his work with Boston’s Free Pizza, but the left-field solo recordings that he has been releasing on his Bandcamp page indicate that he could become a man of many varied releases. It’s going to be hard to find any one band that could encompass all of his styles.
An April release, I AM ALONE, might be a little old to be reviewing in October, but the music stands out for a reason and deserves a curtain call here. With just three tracks, none recorded particularly well, but with ideas abound, Vio’s work trumps lots of “better” more cohesive records with a shabby charm that cures tired ears.
Vio’s short set opens with “Work & Roll,” which takes buzzed surfer guitar pop and sets it against the backdrop of undistinguished Casio drum rhythms and plunky electronic chords. It’s a musical sentiment pretty close to what you would hear from a busker with a Casio who doesn’t know better, but in this case, Vio probably knows better but just likes the immediacy of the sound. Singing a line like “I just want to rock & roll/ I just want to gain control of my fear of being nobody” (as though it was just ‘shooby-dooby’) music like this walks the awkward tightrope of honesty that you hear in the rhythms of the Wiggins sisters, in the meowing of R Stevie Moore’s chord changes, and in the stupor of the Beets’ lyrics.
“Why Do We Fight?” is a piece of well crafted 60’s balladry that is spun through the harmonies and predilicions of a filterless young man (a la Skip Spence). “I Am Alone” takes the carrot cake here though, with a funky minor-key piano figure (that sounds sort of like a disco anthem played on a dorm piano) and a falsetto vocal with a spooky faux-jazz interlude that sounds super convincing to the last bite. Play that solo for me…I’m eatin’.