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Music Review: Jon Lindsay – Escape From Plaza-Midwood

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“It’s rock and roll that’s there for me when I drink myself to sleep.”

-Jon Lindsay

Portland, Oregon-born, North Carolina-based singer/songwriter Jon Lindsay has been musically active since the ripe old age of three.  But for the past 10 or so years, he has performed all over the U.S., fronting the likes of The Young Sons, Catch Fire and Carlisle, and also performed solo or toured as a multi-instrumentalist/singer with the renowned Brooklyn-based folk/alternative vocalist Nicole Atkins (Columbia Records), Benji Hughes, and others.

Last year, Lindsay came out with his own work, the five-track EP Magic Winter & The Dirty South, which saw high praise from the likes of Paste Magazine and Shuffle Magazine, for starters.  He’s also received compliments from peers, including Ken Stringfellow (of The Posies, Big Star and R.E.M., among others), and members of The Love Language (Stuart McLamb), Ben Folds (Britt Harper Uzzell) and Whiskeytown (Caitlin Cary). 

On August 17, Lindsay will release his long-awaited debut, a 15-track affair titled, Escape From Plaza-Midwood on Chocolate Lab Records, an independent Chicago label home to other acclaimed acts like Radiohead’s Thom Yorke’s brother Andy Yorke and (mostly) instrumental rockers Motion Turns It On.

Leadoff gem “These Are The End Times” features an array of instruments, including folky guitar strums, a melodica, and steel drum, along with sleigh bells. And then there are the lyrics (sung at times with ‘60s-style reverb running through the mic).  Since we are in the “end times,” Lindsay wants one to “make some moonshine,” then thinks of California sinking, and later, inventively uses Bernie Madoff as a verb. Such is the world of one Jon Lindsay.

Lindsay’s imagination and storytelling is captivating, and so often is matched by strong pop hooks. His imaginary tales run wild in the buzzing bass-heavy “Futuretown,” for example, as he cleverly slips in a Kato Kaelin reference, a rare f-bomb, and discovers that his new “lady friend” was a “half a robot, half a cop.” The tune was featured on AOL Spinner at the end of July.

The anthemic “My Blue Angels” is another highlight, with its infectious, twinkling sounds and as the song kicks into full gear, fast, post-punk energy and chords. Key lyrics: “It’s rock and roll that’s there for me when I drink myself to sleep,” and “It’s rock and roll that picks me up when I fall.”

Besides the R.E.M.-esque “My Blue Angels,” a personal favorite on Midwood is “Bring The Old You Back.” This catchy power pop piece is so strong, it could be a future radio hit.  And if you are a fan of that genre, it will definitely remind you of vintage Fountains Of Wayne (which means it’s a winner).   

More ear candy can be found on “Frequent Flyer,” while light organ runs and loud horns portray a summery on vibe on “The Launch Codes.” In fact, there’s so much cheery material here that you may even find your new favorite song of the summer somewhere in this pile of 15 tracks.   

Jon Lindsay’s dynamic voice can have a slight nasal quality to it akin to Ben Kweller one minute, then soar into the reverb-aided air the next (as on “I Take Care Of You Now”).  His folky side comes off like a less depressed Elliott Smith, but it’s his wondrous pop sensibilities, which have drawn comparisons to pop rockers old and modern (from Warren Zevon and Elvis Costello to Guided By Voices and Rufus Wainwright) that have the critics going ga-ga over his work. 

And why not? As if it wasn’t already evident given his prior history, Jon Lindsay proves on Escape From Plaza-Midwood he was born to rock, and in his own clever, creative and dynamic ways.   Be sure to pick up a copy of his debut record when it comes out later this month, as you’ll be spinning it a great while.

While still available, get yourself FREE high quality MP3 downloads of “My Blue Angels” and “Futuretown,” and listen to more Jon Lindsay music on his myspace page.

About Charlie Doherty

Copy editor/content writer for Penn Multimedia; print/web journalist/freelancer, formerly for Boston Examiner, EMSI, Demand Media, Brookline TAB, Suite 101 and Helium.com; co-head sports editor & asst. music editor at Blogcritics Magazine; Media Nation independent newspaper staff writer, printed/published by the Boston Globe at 2004 DNC (Boston, MA); Featured in Guitar World May 2014. See me on twitter.com/chucko33, myspace.com/charlied, & Facebook.