Review Summary: RIYL: fun, jazz-fusion sugar & highly programmed percussion
One of the biggest reasons to celebrate CHON’s recent output is that it came so close to not existing in the first place. It isn’t that the instrumental progressive (or something) band broke up at any point- no, the songs at hand simply ceased to be a priority for any of its members for awhile. In short: life got in the way. So while the Camarena brothers and company worked their asses off to pay the bills, those of us who were floored from their 2008 demo wondered if the instrumental electricity of “Across the Spectrum” was the last we’d hear from this batch of San Diego musicians.
Fast forward to 2014: we’ve got two more EPs from CHON, both of which explore jazz-fusion sensibilities and forego the frenetic post-hardcore of their demo. By and large, Woohoo!
(I know, I KNOW, that name) is less a stylistic leap than last year’s Newborn Sun
; the former finds a niche in the fusion style introduced in the latter. Jams like “Sketch” hark back to the math-rock acrobatics with which CHON has recently acquainted itself, while the mellower “Knot” directs the group’s technical proficiency in a more reserved direction. Not all the changes at hand are as subtle, though; bassist Drew Pelisek’s vocals in “Ecco” are bound to be the major conversation piece of Woohoo!
. For directing the first CHON song to sport vocals, they’re rather baseless- his voice wavers in and out of tune, constraining the song instead of properly heading it. Pelisek’s singing would fit right in with an up-and-coming emo group, but here" They’re external to what these guys are best at. Even more concerningly, they exist alongside surprisingly diluted instrumentation: something I’ve never been able to honestly say about CHON.
The truth of the matter is that “Ecco” says all the important things about this release. The song implies a band that’s thrilled to be getting its time in the spotlight (after all, these guys are currently touring with Animals As Leaders), but it also implies a band struggling to achieve genuine innovation. But!- for a band that started off on such an undeniably sweet note, it’s hard not to expect the world out of them. Let's give them more time to make their collective mark as musicians, and develop they shall.