Grow by CHON (Sumerian Records)
This young band from San Diego fuses jazz, pop, progressive rock and sunny sounds together to make music that sounds like drinks on the beach, driving with the top down on a summer day, laughing with friends. The musicianship is exemplary, they mix it up enough on each track to show some range.
Story has some trebly wheedly guitars but is balanced by more throaty, slower played tones, energetic drums and soothing bass. It might come off as pretty for the most part, yet the band has a firm grasp of when to pull back and when to let loose, building tension and a sense of mystery in their instrumental arrangements. Fall gets your head nodding with a tight rhythm and even tighter guitar interplay from Mario Camarena and Erik Hansel. As the guitars calm down in the middle section Nathan Camarena’s jazzy percussion really shines through. You can add your own vocals to most of the songs on Grow, I found myself scatting to the central melody and playful guitar lead on the very catchy Book. Bassist Drew Pelisek sings ably on the ballady Can’t Wait and Echo but the instruments are the main voice on the album.
The clean guitar on Suda gives the song some space for Pelisek’s patient bass and Nathan’s cymbal splashes and snappy hits. CHON gets busy on Knot, winding the listener up with complex layers of guitars as the rhythm section guides us from tense to relaxed tempos. Splash gets the blood pumping with upbeat drums and electrified guitars, fast finger-play and dazzling textures. There is so much going on in the song you’ll be amazed to learn its less than two and a half minutes long. CHON are at their most metal on Perfect Pillow, with bright and prominent chorused and dirty lead guitars and driving drums, sneaking in some jazzy flourishes throughout.
Grow comes to an all-too-soon close with But. The drums and bass play a fast then slower groove, Nathan lets loose and then reins it in, all the while Hansel and Mario pluck sad yet pretty colors from their instruments, the tightly wound song uncoiling into silence.