250 Word Album Review: JIP – Sparks, Flames & Names EP

JIP - Sparks, Flames & Names EP

JIP - Sparks, Flames & Names EP gets 4 Stars

JIP is a Chicago band and you can tell it with one listen of the Sparks, Flames & Names EP released this year.  It is an unconventional EP because each track features a different guest musician. Normally this could lead to an erratic and disconnected collection of songs but the 7 songs still remain a tight, related group.

The catalyst among all the guest vocalists on the record is that JIP vocalist Jim Gwynn sings on all of the songs as well connecting the tracks. Gwynn’s distinct vocals compliment the well written songs songs with big hooks that stick in your head. The big, repeated hooks appear in all of the EP’s best tracks like “Shift” “Our City by the Lake” and “Meant to Pass.”

Narrowing down the musical influences on the Sparks, Flames & Names EP is a bit of a pointless endeavor.  You can hear pieces of tons of music you have heart but it is taken from such a large variety that it really doesn’t sound too much like any artist as a whole. At times the music is adorned with acoustic strums like on “Shift” and sometimes dirty, heavy guitar like on “Shudder.”

“Shift” contains the best guest vocals on the album with help from Shaun Hague while Nickolas Blazina helps “Our City by the Lake” become the best song on the record. The best part of the album is when Gwynn screeches “…my voice might strain…”  just on the edge of his vocal range in “Our City by the Lake.” The EP is a very smooth listen overall. The hooks on “Shift” and “Meant to Pass” alone will keep you coming back for more each time.

Key Tracks: “Our City by the Lake” “Shift” “Meant to Pass”

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