Sunday, June 05, 2022

Jonathan Crayne Can Do No Wrong On The Exceptional and Exciting ‘OKNOW’

As rustic, jangling-sounding guitars fill your eardrums on the opening track of Jonathan Crayne’s 'OKNOW' EP, it’s hard not to be transported back to the glorious days of mid-noughties garage rock. Yet, as it fast becomes apparent throughout the six-song masterpiece, Crayne isn’t one for maintaining the status quo. As ‘The Good Kids’ lurches from one experimental guitar solo to another filled with the wah-wah of a skilled pedal user, we get a taste of the excitement and unpredictability that is to come. 

A heavier sound is accompanied by a nastier Crayne, as he snarls all over the grunge-inspired ‘Broken Wing’. As the track seems to retreat from its fury, the listener is lulled into a false sense of ease, yet as is ever the case throughout OKNOW, the rest-bite is short-lived as a cacophony of symbols and guitars are accompanied by a bellowing Crayne as he states in a matter-of-fact manner – “I’ll fly away”. 

‘Pistola’ is a riff-laden 3-minute thrill ride of classic American rock ‘n’ roll whilst ‘Don’t Play Joker’ is as satanic as anything Black Sabbath managed. However, despite its heavy sound, the latter also somehow manages to sound ready for a run on Broadway in some punk-inspired musical á la Green Day’s American Idiot. It’s another example of Crayne at his exciting best, where an EP can lurch so wonderfully between genres and themes without coming across as confusing or too self-righteous for its own good. 

Nowhere better is Crayne’s genre-bending effort brought to light than on ‘Monotone Mtn’. A slow acoustic ballad that would be at home on one of Oasis’ much-vaunted 90s’ B-sides is a true moment of beauty on an EP filled with many exciting turns. Birdsong accompanies the singer as his once angry and snarling voice is mellowed out on the stand-out track from 'OKNOW'. 

The twists don’t end there, and on the EP closer, 'Setting Sun’, we find Crayne experimenting with the shoe-gaze sound that was so pervasive to American alternative music some years ago. It may be a point that has been repeated, but it’s worth repeating how Crayne has mastered the switch of genres with ease on OKNOW, and ‘Setting Sun’, as the final track, is a perfect example of it. 

The Michigan native has created a 6-track EP that has more diversity than certain artists manage throughout their careers. Not once does 'OKNOW' stagnate under the weight of its varied nature, and for that Crayne should be proud and hopefully with that pride will come inspiration, as I for one can’t wait to hear what he may offer us next. 

James Ogden 

Image: 'OKNOW' Official Album Cover 

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