What makes a good rock song? Is it virtuosic display, showmanship and image? Or is it an affinity for creating the unique from the simple? Jeffrey August and the Jeff August Ego Trip falls in the latter category. The California born-and-raised musician takes cues from a not-so-distant musical past that includes the great songwriters of the 90s like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, U2, and other punk influences such as Minor Threat, Bad Religion, Paul Westerberg (Replacements) and Neil Young.
With a vocal aptitude that resembles both Shawn Smith (Brad, Satchel), Andrew Wood (Mother Love Bone) and John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival), The JAET executes fantastic melodic lines, painting a signature on otherwise uncomplicated chords. The result is a highly addictive collection of tracks that comprises the debut album by the Jeff August Ego Trip. Entitled Midlife, this singular record takes on the trials and tribulations of a maturing Gen Xer with a series of mixed-genre charts, teeming with angst, frustration and beauty.
What is arguably the record’s best track, “Fragments of Frenemies,” begins the set—blending a Bob Mould (Husker Du, Sugar) inspired riff with a catchy bassline, and an equally infectious vocal line laid over a thick wall of guitars.
From there, JAET moves on to show an impressive musical flexibility, blending diverse styles with ease—from the alt-country-tinged “Day by Day” to punk-infused tracks like “Orca Wrasslin.’” The album’s first single, “My Heart Hurts,” displays a slower, mid-tempo emotionalism, as do “This Righteous Life,” and ”Even In Winter.” The almost psychedelic, retro appeal of “Bluebird” resembles as much a slow-burn Jefferson Airplane song as a Vitology-era Pearl Jam track. “Inferno” represents the lone piano ballad of the album, tugging heartstrings all the while showing JAET’s range of instrumentation and depth.
But JAET’s appeal truly lies in his ability to find “the hook” in all his songs, regardless of style or genre. His ability to spin an “earworm” is impeccable—making Midlife a must-hear record that will remain with you after many listens. It’s no wonder that August is proficient in so many styles; his heart is in the music, and his emotional authenticity can’t help but show through.
HEAR the full album via youtube