2019 has been a so-so year for independent pop artists in the United States, but the same just can’t be said for Canada’s brood. In the north, artists like Jeremy Rice have been whipping up a storm of buzz with a new breed of easy-going, always sweet pop/rock that toes the line between vintage and futuristic, and its sound is brilliantly captured in the new album Jeremy Rice and the Legendary Fist of Takinawa. Led by the single “Somebody Like You” and pre-release teaser “Arriianne,” Jeremy Rice and the Legendary Fist of Takinawa takes us on a one of a kind adventure into the soulful mind of a young pop sensation.
The music video for “Arriianne,” not unlike most of Jeremy Rice’s debut LP, is simple and to the point, leaving all of the excesses and eccentricities to the side in favor of making the vibrancy of the music the main feature. There’s an eager beat that syncs up with the imagery in the video perfectly, but what really makes this piece a hot pick isn’t just its timing – it’s the total lack of bombast. Nowhere do we see any fluff, nor do we hear any in the soundtrack that’s pushing grooves at us left and right.
“Somebody Like You” is my favorite song from Jeremy Rice and the Legendary Fist of Takinawa, and it’s easy to see why it was chosen as the main single to promote the record’s release. The chorus is clean and pure, but the instrumental swagger surrounding it is fierce and uncompromisingly physical, which isn’t usually a combination that I hear in this strain of pop music. Rice’s American peers would do well to take note of this stimulating fusion; not to copy it per say, but definitely to learn from it in their own attempts at creating precise pop beats.
None of the songs on this album sound like filler to me – even the really basic stuff like “Nme,” “Goodbye” and Beatlesy “Beleev” have a lot of zealous energy and blistering muscularity in areas that a lot of artists in Rice’s class would normally ignore outright. Granted, I wouldn’t say that all of these tracks qualify as chart-topping material worthy of release in the single format, but there’s something really special about an LP where skipping through soft spots in the tracklist is never even considered. Jeremy Rice and the Legendary Fist of Takinawa is that kind of a record, and better yet, it comes with none of the pretentiousness that I’d assume it would.
I had never heard of Jeremy Rice prior to hearing this album for the first time over the last week, but I’m going to be paying a lot closer attention to both him and the Canadian underground because of his smashing debut. His sound is representative of an entire movement developing out of the north right now, and if either “Arriianne” or “Somebody Like You” are successful on the States’ side of the border this fall and coming winter, it’s going to be hard keeping American listeners away from his truly unique style.