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Kåre João
(Jester Records)

In its still-young life, Jester Records has made a name for itself by offering up a super-eclectic roster, as well as a high degree of talent. Releasing everyting from glitch electronic to skronky rock, the Norwegian label seems to delight in offering up a wide variety of sonic output. Kåre João is the one of the newest signees to the label, and once again Sideman is something different for the label.

As a musician, João has had quite a varied history. Born in Rio de Janero, he moved to Norway at a young age and started playing in bands in his teens. Starting out on bass in a punk band, he eventually moved to drums, and eventually went on to play in several different groups, including the fairly well-known Gluecifer. On this, his debut solo album (the title is a wink to having been a player in numerous other bands, yet never the lead), he produced and arranged everything on the disc and played a batch of different instruments. He also got a good-sized batch of his friends to contribute as well, and the result is something akin to spaced-out, psychedelic, British-rock (via Norway).

The disc opens with the epic-length "Captain Trips," and after a long intro of swirling guitar drones, the track locks in and doesn't sound unlike the Stone Roses mixed up with a touch of older Spiritualized (before the gospel obsession). With lyrics by Anders Bortne of Whopper, the track is half swirling instrumental, and half pop/rock single. João takes on lead vocals on the next track "Channel Five," and the woozy track nicely evokes the metronomic lyrics about apathy until the track builds into a squalling finale.

Although it's never something that's too blatant, the percussion background of João comes through even on the slower tracks on the release. "Sunshine Blues" and "Love Report" both take things down a notch, but underneath the shimmering guitar melodies on each track are sturdy, almost funky rhythms that propel things along. "Frank Furius" (sic) takes nearly the exact opposite route, though, when nearly all the instrumentation collides to form one romping track (although the "ooh ooh" vocals give the track a fairly light feel). In all, the 7 tracks and 40 minutes on the disc never really get that hard, and never really drift off too much either. Even the epic closer of "Dark Of Heartness" doesn't progress very long before a driving rhythm comes in. While the album isn't particularly innovative in terms that other releases on the label have been, it's still an interesting debut release and yet another genre dipped into by the label.

Rating: 6.5