Zac Brown Band
Jekyll + Hyde


3.5
great

Review

by Raul Stanciu STAFF
May 4th, 2015 | 36 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Out of control...

After refining their country-meets-pop sound, Zac Brown Band decided to experiment more in order to broaden their target audience. Constantly adding members to the line-up to bring several new influences to the table, they have released their most eclectic record to date, Jekyll + Hyde. The guys have showed signs of transition the moment they added rock to the mix on Uncaged and The Grohl Sessions, Vol. 1, but this Hyde side here branches out more than it should have for its own good. In a way it's refreshing, because the listening experience resembles a nice radio station broadcasting for an hour or so. You get all these different styles all boldly intertwined and even though it doesn't always suit your tastes, it's hard to shut it down. However, you quickly realize something is wrong and ask yourself why nobody stopped them from reaching so far out their comfort zone. This wild diversity didn't help at all, since some decisions will make you question their credibility.

Unfortunately, Brown & Co. don't waste any time to introduce the listener to some of their missteps. Channeling Avicii and his hit single, 'Wake Me Up', them boys present their Eurovision-ready dance cuts: 'Beautiful Drug' and 'Tomorrow Never Comes'. If you are a lucky owner of the vinyl version, you'll sure have these opening two different sides. The songs themselves aren't necessarily cringe worthy, but this electronic country simply doesn't suit their style and image. It's only a matter of time until some *** DJ will remix these and get played on every radio station and club around the world. There's also the swing number, 'Mango Tree', featuring Sara Bareilles, which is an admirable move, especially since the band manages to pull it off quite nicely, yet again it's so out of place here it doesn't help the album at all. Moreover, 'Castaway', the soundtrack to a tropicalia summer party, will surely raise an eyebrow too. Still, it's a minor damage compared to some of the aforementioned tracks. These should've been placed on a deluxe edition maybe, if they wanted so bad to include them somewhere.

Thankfully, we have the Jekyll side to compensate for all the crazy experiments. Songs like the beautiful 'Homegrown' and 'Remedy' remind us how well can they pull off country tunes with a laid back feel. The violins, banjos and acoustic guitars create that pastoral atmosphere and the vocal harmonies are ace like always. Meanwhile, the collaboration with Chris Cornell on 'Heavy Is The Head' is another strong point here that shows Zac & the gang should've embraced hard rock as it acts like a natural progression, mainly after their previous affairs. 'Junkyard' toys with this heavier style, creating a groovy, mid-tempo epic that stands out amid this mess. Still, of all the good moments here, the most gorgeous one is the lovely ballad 'Dress Blues'. Originally written by Drive-By Truckers' Jason Isbell, this cover is so touching that for 5 minutes you seem to forget them for all the weird stuff they'd thrown in between. This is a perfect opportunity for the rich orchestration the band provides and Zac's warm voice to really bring out the best in them. It might be a bit polished for purists, nevertheless, 'Dress Blues' is one of their most touching numbers so far.

As the rest of the material here lies somewhere in the alternative country territory with pop leanings, you cannot help but notice how Zac Brown Band aspires in a way to become Nashville's Dave Matthews Band. It's understandable since there is a wide array of highly gifted musicians behind the music and all of them have matured their approach, thus being capable to create just about anything they set their mind to. Even so, I hope Jekyll + Hyde is just a transition point and not the blueprint for future projects. Although not all experiments have been successful, self-indulgence speaks for itself as it's clear they had lots of fun creating this varied collection of songs. You can't blame them for trying something new, yet I wish someone had helped them sort the track list out. A shorter, more focused affair could've easily been just as essential as Uncaged, while other cuts might have been more suitable for side projects or standalone singles. Few people will enjoy the album from start to finish, being clearly sewn to have something appealing to just about everyone, so pick up what you like and add it to your collection.



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user ratings (39)
2.9
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2015


4913 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I have mixed feelings about this, but half of it is good.

Unfortunately, only some of the songs are available for streaming online:



Dress Blues - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGH5sfk1L_c

Homegrown - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N8_CRpL6wk

Heavy Is The Head - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWBm4Tx2bRo

Loving You Easy - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D05NewQpqxg

Digging: Lionize - Panic Attack!

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 4th 2015


32846 Comments


Good read but I thought this album was pretty terrible

Digging: Coldplay - Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends

RogueNine
May 4th 2015


4089 Comments


This really is all over the place. Perhaps too broad for its own good.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2015


4913 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks. Yeah this is too eclectic for its own good. The country and rock tunes are good but the rest ranges from meh to wtf!?



Uncaged still is their best record.

SmartWentCody
May 4th 2015


143 Comments


Modern Pop-Country nauseates me. Being a Montanan, I grew up listening to the stuff of the 90's and the stuff before that my parents grew up listening to; the classics. Every time I say "I like Country music", I have to follow it up with a quick "the good, old kind." Good review, though.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2015


4913 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You should check out Daniel Romano. He's closer to that laidback country feel. I have yet to discover many of the classic country tunes.

Cygnatti
May 4th 2015


32948 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Been meaning to jam these guys sometime.

SmartWentCody
May 4th 2015


143 Comments


Old: Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Johnny Paycheck, Charlie Pride, George Jones, Don Gibson, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, to name a few off the top of my head.

Newer era: Alison Krauss, Gary Allan, Hal Ketchum (listen to 'Past The Point of Rescue), Dwight Yoakam, Dixie Chicks (fucking fantastic group), Brooks & Dunn (Neon Moon is one of the greatest country tracks ever)

danielito19
May 6th 2015


12203 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i try to be an open minded person but i go to a school full of ag majors who listen to nothing but pop country. idk i've never put effort into finding good country, but i've never enjoyed any of the country i've heard.

Son of Mr. Pain
May 6th 2015


24992 Comments


Pop can be great.
Country can be great.
Pop country is almost exclusively shit.

danielito19
May 6th 2015


12203 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I figured pop country was bullshit; but i haven't delved deep enough into country to find any i liked. and by that i mean i literally haven't listened to any i wasn't subjected to

Cygnatti
May 6th 2015


32948 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

idk i've never put effort into finding good country, but i've never enjoyed any of the country i've heard.
das wierd bc the best album of last year was country :x

danielito19
May 6th 2015


12203 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

What album is that cyg?

Fort23
May 7th 2015


3071 Comments


yee ha!

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 7th 2015


32846 Comments


This album could have been good but you can literally feel the band overstretching their collective reach. They're trying to be everyone and everything when they were just above adequate within their own niche.

RogueNine
May 7th 2015


4089 Comments


Perhaps Cyg is referring to Casualties of Cool.

Cygnatti
May 7th 2015


32948 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

nahhhh

south_of_heaven 11
May 7th 2015


5533 Comments


I had never listened to these guys before but my friends are huge fans. Bunch of my college buddies are coming into town this month to see them so I bought a ticket as well. In return, got this album for free. Not half bad so far.

danielito19
May 7th 2015


12203 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

now THERE'S an old school user

Cygnatti
May 7th 2015


32948 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

okay wtf htis is barely country



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