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Review: JAC, 'Ride'

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JAC
Ride
5 stars

Indy may not have a shore, but Jason Aaron Coons' – the titular JAC – tunes are so smooth that you won't need the beach to find that chill summer mood. The title track on four-track EP Ride nails a 1980s West Coast sound with funky guitar licks, sexually charged lyrics, and sax riffs as seductive as the opening bars of “Careless Whisper.” Duke Silver would be proud.

If Maroon 5 and Walk the Moon had a baby, and George Michael was the great uncle who dropped in to babysit, the result would be Ride. The EP kicks off with the upbeat "Do It Again," a love song in poppy four-four time with fresh beats reminiscent of hot EDM. It's eminently danceable, the type of track I'd turn up to shake it with my girlfriends. Straight sugar pop, yes, but the speedy drums keep it from being Disney-sweet.

“How We Operate” is an outcast’s anthem that, if you listen closely, also reads as a strong pro-LGBTQ protest song: “There’s no grace for anyone who’s sick like you, who loves like you, who fucks like you. How dare you be so different?” Good for Coons for speaking up on such a timely issue. It’s refreshing when pop music takes a risk and creates something you can pump your fist to.

The EP closes with “This is Life,” a mid-tempo ballad featuring keyboards instead of guitar. Like any good pop artist, Coons makes sure his voice remains front-and-center in its march up and down the scale – with the perfect mixture of angst and bravado, too. Throughout all four songs, Coons' vocals are bright and effortless. He’s a graduate of IU’s Jacobs School of Music, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he had some formal vocal training during his time studying guitar there.

Ride ends too quickly, with the full EP clocking in under 16 minutes, but the tracks are ordered so the listener is left with a sense of closure — even while she wants more. The good news is that the second volume of Ride is due to come out later this year, so we won't be left wanting for long.

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