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Drew Isleib | Sounds Through the Wall | review | alternative | rock | Lollipop
Sounds Through the Wall (Ernest Jenning)
by Jamie Kiffel
When I first hear a new record, I sometimes channel my past lives to help me judge it. Today's music critic is the German Jewish grandmother in my soul. She'll always faithfully tell me what's true art and "vat's just a lot of noise." So what of Drew Isleib?
When I first turned on Sounds Through the Wall and heard his simple, singable acoustic guitar and yanking-gut "oh, woe is my life" vocals, I thought, "Yeah, man. Catchy. I feel it."
But then, I thought: Am I being taken in by my youth? Am I being tricked into believing that this music is the stuff of true art when really, in a few years, I'll look back and say, "That was just some young guy making noise about being young?" I needed an older woman's opinion.
Drew just had to wrench out a few "Iiiiyyyye"s and "yeeeaaaah"s for me to hear my inner grandmother loudly declare, "Oy." Then she added, "Vat's wrong, he's constipated?"
Often, my inner grandmother stops me from doing something stupid. She tells me to "take off that ridiculous Gucci dress, I don't care if it's on sale, it looks like a schmata." And I listen. Thank God. Yet that very inner grandmother is the same one who interrupts me just as I'm thinking of going abroad and says, "Vat, you couldn't just get heartburn at home? You have to go travel for that?" And I ignore her. Thank God.
I turned Drew's CD on again, sans grandma, before writing this review. To my surprise, I found myself singing along and really enjoying it. Who cares if it's high art? Sure, it's a little hokey, and the guy-on-the-acoustic-guitar thing has been parodied to death for good reason. But still, the disc is fun. It's fun to sing, fun to hear, and has plenty of twisted, catchy lyrics. It's folk-rock, meaning it's acoustic and personal with an edge (there's a track about paranoiacally convincing himself that he rubbed out his own girlfriend). Grandma's probably right: It's not art with lasting value, and let's face it, this Drew will get over his troubles and grow out of the phase he's in. But until then, thank God I've got a full CD of his angsty songs to belt along with... until I grow out of them, too.
(906 Summit Ave. Jersey City, NJ 07307)