One of the best parts of reviewing albums is being exposed to music that you most likely would have never discovered on your own. At first, I listened to the Rochester-based Jon Lewis Band’s recently-released EP Baby Brother solely for the sake of writing this review. And then, one morning, I woke up with the melodies lodged into my psyche and I listened because I wanted to.
Don’t let the term local singer/songwriter fool you. Don’t let the genre label “indie rock” push this album out of the grasp of your musical appreciation. Baby Brother resonates with a driving sense of urgency, possibly a reflection of the head space Lewis was in when he wrote and recorded it earlier this year.
“After a freak car accident at the end of March, I found myself inspired to write and create music with more of an edgier attitude,” said Lewis. “We were also just returning from a short tour and I was eager to collaborate more on music that would feature the group and the intensity of those live performances. The process was so quick and often had a sense of profound urgency, energy and cohesiveness.”
From the first track “Let Me Go,” the EP quickly seizes your attention with smokey, sultry verses, gradually leading to a bridge that builds into a chorus filled with shredding crescendos of hard-hitting rock. The third track on Baby Brother will keep you “Hanging On” with its yearning, soul-calling melodies, precise guitar harmonies and memorable lyrics.
“What should you say, when my light is fading
And all my bad decisions come collected
To keep me hanging on
Would you keep me hanging on”
Baby Brother travels into familiar territory with hints of grunge and indie rock, yet with enough rock n’ roll and pop to set the Jon Lewis Band apart from today’s age of dime-a-dozen artists.
A full-time musician, Jon Lewis bleeds, breaths and sleeps music. Since hitting the road as an acoustic singer-songwriter playing in coffeehouses and bars in Upstate New York in 2013, he’s released four EPs and two full-length albums – some on his own, others in collaboration with some of Rochester’s well-known and up-and-coming artists, building a solid band of talented musicians along the way. Self-taught and determined to grow as a musician, he’s dedicated himself to producing music at a pace that matches his ambition.
Partnering up with Producer/Engineer/friend Dave Drago of 1809 Studios, Lewis released two EPs in 2014: Trail of Dreams and In Disguise. In 2015, he released his first full-length album Panic Rock on which he collaborated with Jacob Walsh on drums and Shawn Brogan on lead guitar, both of whom are now fundamental players in the Jon Lewis Band.
Soon after, Lewis began production on Out To Lunch which was released in 2016, this time joined by Alex Northrup on keys, completing the five-piece Jon Lewis Band. Wasting no time, the group released their second full length album Exquisite Corpse on May 15, 2017 and immediately followed it up with Baby Brother which was released in September, 2017.
When he’s not on stage with the Jon Lewis Band, you can find him playing fun, educational music to kids at Park’s Departments, birthday parties and other events in Rochester with his wife as “Mr. and Mrs. Loops.”
“It is incredibly rewarding and fun, and an amazing way to instill the silliness that is so easily forgotten in our lives,” he said.
Nominated two years in a row in the City Newspaper’s Best of Rochester Contest, Lewis said the five-piece Jon Lewis Band is focused and hellbent on producing more music and you can expect to see them playing in and around the Rochester area. Be sure to keep your ears peeled. Based on their latest offering, it’s bound to be good.
Key Tracks: Let Me Go; Hanging On