If you’re like me, you’re consistently confronted by an irrational fear of jam bands. Maybe not necessarily a fear of jam bands themselves, but definitely a fear of “jam band guy.” You know him. He’s the insufferably nice guy in your friend group whose criteria for good music balances on the length and “sickness” of jammy, instrumental mastery.
One look at the cover of Covet’s latest record, effloresce and my first impression could not have been further off. I thought I was getting into a delicate indie rock record, something like New Order, or at least something gothy (I mean, come on, compare this cover to the cover of Power, Corruption and Lies and tell me I’m wrong). A still life with flowers. Fall flowers, no less. It’s not exactly evocative of summer time jams.
But in so many ways, Covet’s debut full-length record thrives in its ability to throw you a little off of expectations. The California instrumental trio offers up six guitar-based, jam-infused tracks that are more shadowy and autumn flavored. It’s spacious rock with a glowering texture that really stands out from many of instrumental contemporaries.
On the opening track, “Shibuya (ft. Han Solo)” they breaks right off on a lengthy sparkling guitar lead with an agile bass line to hold up the exploratory solos. Following that song up is the slightly more somber “Glimmer,” which is a notch slower and gradually builds into a series of churning, heavy guitar riffs. It is flat out amazing how many seamless changes Covet fits into a track that isn’t even four minutes in length.
What distances Covet from their jam-based contemporaries is their careful infusion of math and progressive rock elements. On “Sea Dragon (ft. Mario Camarena)” the chord changes are spectacularly complicated but the energy makes one think of gazing gently at the stars. It is a blissfully cosmic work of mood. The second half of the track (which is a dense five-and-a-half minutes) features one of the best guitar solos I have ever heard, begging for maximum volume and room on the living floor to get out your best air guitar. There is simply nothing more to say about Yvette Young as a guitar player than she is one to behold, vacillating between technical and emotional. She is a transcendent and intense talent, but not alone, as her rhythm section, David Adamiak and Forrest Rice, provide the foundation for her esoteric imagination.
Covet has crafted what I believe to be the most articulate jam music-inspired album in a heck of a long time, maybe the only one I can see with the range to cross over. The songs on effloresce are stunning and otherworldly, capable of simultaneously evoking meditation and free-spiritedness. If you fear jam band guy, if you share space with him, pop this album on and you may find some common ground.