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Music Review: Just Walden – ‘High Street Barton Blues’

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Hailing from Austin, Texas, band members Taylor Eichenseer, Danny Ferraro, and Alex Margolin have put together an alternative, pop rock, piano-driven album in High Street Barton Blues, a collection of 14 songs ranging from a little over a minute to almost five minutes. The shorter songs seem to act almost as bridges between the album’s different sections, all of which give an Elton John feel either in their rhythmic quality or the emotions they convey.

Just Walden Hight Street Barton Blues600The short, instrumental, upbeat introduction, “Marrow of Life”, puts the band’s seemingly favourite instrument, the piano, in the spotlight. The pianist impresses then and continues to impress with the follow-up, “Romie Knows”, which also featuresin perfect companionshipthe drums and the intermittent contribution of an electric guitar. The steady, heavy beat makes this song feel like an instrumental house/dance song. The album shifts gears with the third song, “Space Cadet”, an upbeat yet melancholic piece featuring elements reminiscent of David Bowie. Things slow down even more with three back-to-back ballads “Hangman”, “Lost Friends”, and “Hole in the Head”, all of which I could see as features for typical, inspirational, things-are-going-wrong Glee moments. “Stones You Throw” is also a ballad, but it picks up a bit of steam that I felt was somewhat lost by putting three slow, melancholic songs in a row.

The moody yet upbeat “Full Body Tattoo” is centered around an acoustic guitar accompanied by a restrained piano. The two instruments switch places in “You Jumped Boat”, with the piano retaking its central position and the guitar goes back to accompanying. This track is the first of series of ballads that are energetic despite their darker edge. After “Last Call at the Elgin” and “Troubled Youth”, both of which follow closely the sound and feel of “You Jumped Boat”, “Spare Keys” provides an almost psychedelic break featuring scattered, disjointed vocals, intermittent, seemingly random at times drums, and some electronic elements courtesy of a keyboard. While alone it makes for an interesting song, it is jarring within the context of the previously presented material.

The band finishes the album with two songs that showcase its strengths: a strong, piano-driven melody, an upbeat tempo supported by energetic drumming, and the solid support of guitars. The penultimate “Viviana Blue” would be a great pop song, and the instrumental outro, “Lost Part II”, is a great demonstration of the band members’ instrumental skills.

In High Street Barton Blues, Just Walden brings together a set of accessible, well-written tunes, some of which are bound to get stuck in your head. I am especially fond of the tracks that are piano-driven, such as the “Romie Knows”, which is the one track that should most be listened to. More information is available on the band’s Facebook page.

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