Ed relocated to Baltimore from upstate New York in the spring of 2006 to join his friends in the Wham City arts collective. He began playing the songs he heard in his head in public, beating on a drum and intoning in a microphone. Devlin Rice joined in on bass in 2009 and a power duo was formed. They have been touring the country ever since.
Tracks like “Sermon” and “Rats” are full on punk assaults, bristling expressions of rage and dread. “Gem Asylum” has a more contemplative mode, using sci-fi lyrics and zoned-out synth chimes to dreamy effect. ”Traveling” is a pop radio hit from another dimension, the lyrics seeming to scrawl across some alien karaoke screen. “My Mind is Broken” has a jazzy beatnik shuffle that you can’t help but snap your fingers to.
The song “Right,” a full-on burner in the live setting, shows a different side in the studio. The addition of glockenspiel and the presence of guest musicians Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt of Matmos slow the song down to a noble gallop.
“Air Show” is the ultimate reduction. It’s just Ed’s lovely melody, framed in a cathedral of echo. Next comes a refrigerated hum, and then we’re into “Can’t Stop Eating Sugar,” a surprisingly menacing song… considering the predicament it describes.
There is an all-American quality to Ed’s lyrics, spiked with a surrealism that would do Guided by Voices’ Robert Pollard proud. Lyrics like “when I’m in a car at night with you, I feel like we’re made of sound” manage to be both conversational and poetic. “How does a man become a dog? How does a dog get around?” from song “Do the Maneuver” has an intense gravity when sung, even if you have no idea what the heck Ed is talking about. This pleasing confusion happens often, a guided tour of another’s inner world.
This might be a debut record, but it doesn’t sound like one. The group was willing to experiment with the arrangements and sound palette in the studio. This was no doubt aided by recruiting noted noisenik Twig Harper to record them. What could have been monochromatic instead comes across in full spectrum sound. Through Jazz Mind, the songs stuck in Ed’s head can now get stuck in ours.