EP Review: Jack Fox's 'Squeaky Wheel'
'Squeaky Wheel' is the March edition of Jack Fox’s ambitious project to release an EP every month in 2018.
Alongside this solo project, South Shields-based Fox performs stand-up comedy under his real name, Jack Johnson, and drums with Sunderland’s alternative rock four-piece Hivemind.
On the artist bio of his Bandcamp, in lieu of a navel-gazing list of genres and influences, he simply states: "listen to my stuff".
Well I did, and in listening to his stuff, its easy to see why he doesn’t make an attempt to put his music in neat and tidy boxes: it just doesn’t fit into them...
Even if we only consider this year's releases, it is clear that diversity and changeability is the essence of Fox’s oeuvre.
January’s 'Bear' EP, made up of four songs written and recorded in a single week, can easily be defined as heavier instrumental-rock until it plays with hip-hop influences in its final song; a pared-down Frank Ocean cover.
'Bear' EP was followed up by 'Tired & Inspired' in February, a hip-hop/rap collaboration, which borders on spoken-word at times.
'Squeaky Wheel' does cast an allusion back to 'Bear' EP’s structure: three original instrumental compositions, followed by a cover for the final song, this time a fairly faithful rendition of 'The Will to Death' by John Frusciante (though Fox’s vocal adds a darker edge).
Frusciante, originally of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame, interestingly partook in his own ‘six albums in six months’ project in 2004 - perhaps this inspired Fox?
March’s EP, however, opens with 'Amour Frou', a slower indie-acoustic piece with a bit of an edge.
Another change in pace in terms of genre, 'Amour Frou' translates as an uncontrollable or obsessive passion, and the dark hint from the title creeps into the spikier notes of this song. 'Medal & A Mission' provides a heavier, driving sound which never quite comes to a crescendo on its close...instead it just fades off into the distance, and leaves the listener wanting more.
'Kisses' picks up here, and the beat resonates like a thudding heartbeat.
Coming down from the excitement of the previous track, this one is more reminiscent of the downtempo electronic sound of Arab Strap’s 'Philophobia'.
These original three songs of 'Squeaky Wheel' resist and play with genre definitions, and the changeable sound is masterfully bookmarked by the EP’s final cover song.
Interesting, variable and exciting: who knows what April has in store from Fox.
As he says, you want to know what it’s about? Just listen to his stuff...