By Samuel Cravey
Artist: Durand Jones
Album: Durand Jones & The Indications
Release Date: July 1, 2016
Durand Jones & The Indications’ self titled album is a time portal straight to the heart of 1970s soul music. It’s old school in all the right ways, a tasty combination of driving Southern soul thickened with heavy delta blues. Durand Jones was raised in Hillaryville, Louisiana, where he discovered his aptitude for singing as a part of the local Baptist church choir. It wasn’t until he transplanted himself to Indiana to attend college that he met his bandmates, Blake Rhein (guitars), Kyle Houpt (bass), Justin Hubler (organ, electric piano) and Aaron Frazer (drums, vocals). Together, this group of undergrads created an outstanding soul album crammed into a basement using only a Tascam four-track cassette recorder and budget of 452 dollars and 11 cents. Despite such meager means, Durand Jones & The Indications recorded an album that has sparked something of a phenomenon. The adage holds true, lots of money isn’t required to play the blues.
“Make a Change,” starts the album off with Frazer playing a booming snare, hi-hat and bass drum rhythm that immediately calls your attention. A bluesy guitar rhythm follows close behind right before Jones comes in crying out, “How long, baby, how long will this madness be here to stay?” Jones voice cuts clean through the noise wailing, despite the crescendo of trumpet and sax hooks demanding to be heard. “She, got, to, make a change! You, got, to, make a change! You, got, to, you gotta love yourself.” This catchy rhythm breaks right on cue for a sexy sax solo that’s guaranteed to make your knees weak.
“Smile” is a bright, funky tune complete with delightful plucky guitar, lively drum rhythms, synchronous sax and trumpet melodies and tasteful organ to fill in any cracks. The lyrics all delivered with the same passion that Jones’ showcased in “Make a Change,” although the lyrics are not as happy as the music would have you believe. “Try to get by just for a while, to hide my pride paint on my smile. Yeah, try to get by just for a while, to hide my pride paint on my smile.” This song’s message is about the troubles faced in our personal lives and the smile we put on so others don’t worry.
“Groovy Babe” is a downright ruckus, but in the best way possible. A poppy, slightly distorted guitar rhythm starts this jam off, keeping the audience in suspense, clueless to what’s about to hit them. Around eight seconds in a powerful wall of funk slams down, completely taking over the track. They don’t hold back anything on this jam, going completely wild with crashing drums, blasting wind melodies and Jones singing his heart out. Flaunting their skill is a specialty of Durand Jones & The Indications, like including exhilarating saxophone counter melodies powerful enough to make me stop and get down to the beat. Everything about this banger leads to Aaron Frazer just absolutely tearing it up with his drum solo. It’s impossible not to crank the radio up when Frazer starts beating the living hell out of those drums.
Durand Jones & The Indications make soul music, and aren’t the least bit shy about letting their audience know what they are about. It’s awesome to hear the excitement and love these guys have for making music. Jones’ straight-from-the-bayou vocals never cease to blow me away. Be it upbeat and driving songs like “Smile,” or downtempo and sombre like “Giving Up,” Jones’ vocal variation is the bread and butter of this album. It’s apparent why the band is called Durand Jones & The Indications and not just “The Indications.” However, what makes this album truly exceptional couldn’t be obtained without the passion, musicality and skill delivered by The Indications side of the band. This album is must listen for anyone that claims to love music.