CHON
CHON


2.5
average

Review

by Launch USER (1 Reviews)
November 19th, 2019 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: CHON treads water for around 36 minutes.

There is a saying that is generally attributed to authors, which is that everyone has a book in them, but very few people have two. Most authors have a tendency to incorporate parts of their own personality or experiences into their characters, subconsciously or not. It tends to make some of their work autobiographical in the sense that they are using their art as a vessel for their own identity. Everyone has their own story to tell. But with music, it’s a bit different. You need time to mesh together as a band, figure out your strengths, weaknesses, master your instrument, find your sound, create a cohesive product, and then continue to work at your art to gradually improve. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but most bands do not write masterpiece after masterpiece from their first album. You can write a thousand pages of a book without improvement from page to page, but it’s hard to make the same comparison to an instrument; if you play the guitar for a thousand hours, you will improve. It is simply the nature of a mechanical skill versus a purely artistic one.

So, how does this relate to CHON? In my eyes, CHON finally carved out their voice and found exactly what they were meant to create on Homey. That perfect blend of beachy, relaxed music with indisputably impressive guitar work, tight drumming, and grooving bass on nearly every track. While they experimented a bit with some electronic-heavy songs such as Nayhoo and Berry Streets, the songs that seem to stand as the culmination of their sound and their identity are tracks such as Checkpoint, No Signal, The Space, Continue?, Here and There, and Waterslide. These songs encapsulate exactly what CHON has been developing towards since their initial EP, running parallel on the lines of math rock, but gradually straying from the realm of technical death metal and into the progressive guitar virtuosity and math-based rhythms that came to bring their sound to its peak in Homey. It practically oozes with the closest thing we will ever to the tangible form of a California summer, and that is an incredible thing.

But this is not an album review for Homey. This is for their self-titled album, CHON. This is the second book. And, unfortunately, it seems the quartet has expended themselves on their former effort. In comparison, the album does not fall short in terms of technicality or groovy math rock, as the band producing anything that isn’t fully laden with these elements is a farce within itself. Hansel and the Camarena brothers are simply too skilled to create something completely unpalatable. Rather, the emotional effectiveness and memorability of this album is hardly present. There are highlights, no doubt; Gift, If, and Petal are all solid tracks that are an enjoyable listen with a few twists and turns in the melodies, but the structure of these songs is one of the primary detractors. They seem to follow an almost rigid pattern in a way that you can predict exactly where the music will go next, which is something rarely felt when listening to the majority of Homey. This sort of structure burdens the album immensely, as part of the appeal of CHON has always been their ability to create melodies that are simultaneously memorable and initially surprising. There are no moments on this album that hit like the riff at 1:24 in The Space or give paradoxically warm chills like the solo in Checkpoint. There are not any particularly bad songs on self-titled, but the album, at many times, feels like an excessively rehearsed jam session that begins and ends before any real progress is made.

Perhaps the true highlight of the album is Pitch Dark, which represents the greatest deviation from the other tracks because it features, for lack of a better word, a darker tone. It still follows the same CHON-style of melodies that inexplicably sound like they were cut from jagged butter, but has quite a pleasant contrast from what we expect from the band. It feels like this track is set on the same sunny beach as the entirety of Homey, but the melody is rather illuminated by beams of moonlight, as the title somewhat suggests. If there is any song you may find stuck in your head after the album runs its course, I would suspect it would be this. As for the remainder, the tracks incestuously run together to a point where an odd time signature or 7-string sweep hits like a Tempur-Pedic pillow. Yes, the impact is there, but it’s dulled to a point that it feels like a blunt imitation of CHON. Instead of the actual evolution witnessed from Newborn Sun to Grow and from Grow to Homey, there is a lot of unfortunate regression into what can best be described as an album that seemed rushed.

When I listened to Continue? for the first time, I remember hearing the final solo starting around 2:32 and feeling a strange sense of instant nostalgia, as if this was the last time we would hear the beautiful technicality of the band noodling around on their instruments as incredibly gifted musicians with a penchant for infusing feel-good vibes into every facet of their art. At the time, I was worried that they would delve further down the electronic path to garner more attention from the general public (read: selling out), but instead we were given an album that is simply flat. While I still believe that CHON is not without potential and still has some gas left in the tank, I would be equally unsurprised if Homey is CHON’s magnum opus and, consequently, their one book. A truly great band can create multiple shades of identity. It’s now up to CHON to figure out what that evolution would sound like before they stagnate into reprints of their previous works.


user ratings (141)
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
9Hammer
November 19th 2019


356 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Great read. I feel the same way with Homey in comparison to this record. Feels quite lukewarm, and I do agree that Pitch Dark is the song to go to here.

OwMySnauze
November 20th 2019


2273 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

They lost the creativity and excitement they once had. They need to go back to their Demo era and expand from there.

Launch
November 20th 2019


31 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Fully agreed with both sentiments. It's such a shame because they are incredibly talented, but this record just showcases more technical skill and much less songwriting. They are so many bands that fall into this trap, too.



This is my first review so if there are any things to fix or change, let me know! Thank you.

R4zor3dge
November 20th 2019


1235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review. Well written for a first.

Though I enjoyed this, I can see where your coming from.

Kompys2000
Contributing Reviewer
November 20th 2019


6222 Comments


Pos'd hard, only criticism is that first 2 paragraphs could have possibly been trimmed and tightened up a bit, it's already a fairly long review so the quicker you get into the meat of the analysis the better. Still a really good read though, and impressive for a first review.

Digging: John Donne - A Mutable Feast or: The Ghost of a Flea

Tundra
November 20th 2019


6202 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Agree, have no idea how someone can think this is their best album

Launch
November 20th 2019


31 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

@kompys Thank you for the criticism and the kind words, I appreciate it. Pacing is a bit of a problem for me so it helps to know where it gets too long-winded.

SaveBandit
November 20th 2019


2010 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Not nearly as good as Homey, but still preeetty good overall. Pitch Dark is one my favorite songs they've ever written.

SteakByrnes
November 21st 2019


24303 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Solid review, I dig this album a lot tho lol

Digging: Origami Button - No Parking

notagenius
December 19th 2019


368 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

while I can get what the review mentioned, it won't make conflicts with the fact that I listened to this album a lot this year. it is something really easy to listen and reminds me of the CHON before Homey. A very relaxing chill and rustic vibe while Homey can be described as "quite fancy" to me. I enjoy the light texture of this album a lot and after a busy working day it is something I just need.

SteakByrnes
December 19th 2019


24303 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Album is big vibes

areinking
January 16th 2020


23 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Pos'd, but I don't agree that Homey is their best album. For me, Homey was all over the place, and while Nayhoo was great, the other collabs were over-long and annoying while the rest of the album was forgettable. I guess Waterslide sticks with me a bit. Their EPs and Demos are still classic to me and so is most of Grow.

Panty420
May 15th 2020


8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This kinda sounds like kraut rock if it was technical. Basically a jam session, but it gave me major vibes. Though I do understand you, not everyone likes this kinda stuff.

CosmicPie
May 30th 2020


2876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Crisp, chill, technical... I like this a lot.

SteakByrnes
May 30th 2020


24303 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Vibin

bigweinerdon
December 2nd 2020


1520 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fat vibes

OwMySnauze
December 2nd 2020


2273 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Their demo era was their best material. Now it’s all about chill weed smoking vibes. Lame.

MotokoKusanagi
December 2nd 2020


3943 Comments


agreed demo era was best chon. their newer stuff aint bad but yea

SteakByrnes
December 2nd 2020


24303 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Fat vibes [2]



I like all of their shit tho

Get Low
December 2nd 2020


10729 Comments


boring band



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