Jonah Tolchin – Lava Lamp (Yep Roc Records)
Jonah Tolchin cops to listening to a lot of punk and hip hop growing up. And for the making of Lava Lamp, his fifth and latest LP, he finally leans into those disparate musical influences and the result can be heard across all the nine tracks here making for one of his most experimental and consequently satisfying albums yet.
The New Jersey musician is no stranger to mixing musical influences touching on Americana, country blues and folk on his earlier efforts. The experimentation is just a little broader with this outing making for an eclectic vibe that kicks off with the opening track “Black Hole” and doesn’t let up until the last chord rings out on “Wooden Leg.”
“I wanted to let go and cut loose with this album,” Tolchin said recently. “I wanted to explore new terrain without any kind of rules or restrictions. I was a pretty rebellious kid, and I mostly listened to alternative rock and hip hop and punk growing up. Somewhere along the way, though, I feel like I lost that part of myself. These songs are my way of reclaiming it.”
Bridging those sounds are some remarkably heavy guitar riffs and powerful drumming, putting an exclamation point to his lyrics. Outside of the seven originals, the record includes a cover of Josh Flowers’s “Car You Drive” and Tom Petty’s “Grew Up Fast,” both great covers, but it’s the beautiful slow burn of “Bridge,” an emotionally affective song that really shows off Tolchin’s powerful vocals like never before.
Surprisingly Tolchin only brought in two other musicians to back him up on the record which defies the massive sound that comes out of these songs. Reaching all the way back to his teenage musical heroes proved to be a brilliant stroke for Tolchin helping him deliver possibly his best album yet.