It’s weird to me how suppressed the potential of combining jazz and rock has been over the past several decades. The most recent that jazz’s overlap with rock has been embraced by popular music seeking audiences was during the ’80s, and then it was mostly by artists whose legacy within progressive spaces had been cemented… like an anchor around their neck. No one wanted to hear jazz-rock, not even in the early ’80s, and that stayed pretty much true up until now. For whatever reason though, people are finally interested in this kind of thing again, and thank god, because I really don’t think I can go another minute without spilling what I like about Really From all over the internet like a glass of red wine on freshly laid white linens
Really From are a Boston band made up of people who actually graduated from Berkeley School of Music. Folks who accomplished this feat while managing to maintain a foothold in their local DIY scene. Most people drop out of Berkeley to dive into DIY, this band is made up of troubadours who managed to keep afloat while straddling the barrier reef between the two. It’s been a full four years since the band’s last album, Verse, and three years since they changed their name from People Like You to Really From, making their self-titled a bit of a coming-out party, hosted by none other than those open-hearted, musical omnivores over at Topshelf Records.
Really From’s self-titled album has a searching and ruminating quality to its melodies that offer a fluidity to their exploration of identity and history in a way that doesn’t have a foregone conclusion. The climbing guitar chords feel like a latter in an old library, allowing you to climb the stacks of each row to find the references you need to in order to make sense of the often soft but always adaptable structures that the band employs. Matt Hull’s trumpet work does a great service to the band’s sound in providing both a lifting and abiding melody, permitting the formation of a cloud of contemplation to condensate around the words intimated by singers Chris Lee-Rodriguez and Michi Tassey, while often also punctuating the tracks with a constant, centering pant, imbibing wind and releasing it with the practiced tension release of an archer withdrawing his clasp of an arrow and sending it spiraling into the thick of his intended target. It would seem easy to miss, but Sander Bryce’s drum work here, but that would be a shame, as it is perfectly suited for the compositions of this album. Sander is subtle when the mood requires, and proportionately jubilant and driving when the jams need to get kicked out, Cap’n Jazz style. What really works about the entire band as an assemble is their approach to music-making, which really does come at these songs the way a jazz quartet would, with each member contributing to the manifestation of the work in a way that is both conscious of their own identity and skills, while remaining observant of the ways that their individual presence complements and contrasts with that of the other members. They don’t meld together into a single, functional unit, as much as they form a small community through sound.
Really From’s self-titled album begins with “Apartment Song,” an ebullient sweep of winsome rhythms and slip-souled grooves. “Quirk” is a degree more angular while still managing to feel warm and inviting. “Yellow Fever” is, as the title implies, a hotter-tempered and tempoed track, where Michi’s vocals are found to thread the gaps between Dinah Washington’s self-assured sigh and Christie Front Drive biting confessional chop- bring them together into a cohesive whole in the form of a boxing glove. “I Live Here Now” starts off sounding like a somber, piano-led Mitski outtake but quickly blossoms into a push and shove of mathy Braid-bridge guitars and the earnest convoke of Matt’s trumpet. “I’m the Spaces” cultivates a cosmic vibe, while closer “The House” is a stripped-back pop-punk, acoustic number and closet-recorded confession that you will want to sit in the corner of your bedroom with headphones on in order to appreciate its full effect.
You can stream and buy Really From’s self-titled album via Bandcamp below: