Whitejacket is the newest alias for Chris McDuffie, formerly the keyboardist of The Apples In Stereo. After his public dismissal from the band almost a decade ago, McDuffie has been working hard and now he is finally ready for the release of his debut album, Hollows And Rounds. The disc is set to hit shelves on April 3. A lot of the inspiration for the sounds on the record comes from McDuffie’s appreciation for pop music from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The impact those sounds have made on his own are unmistakable when listening to Hollows And Rounds.
“Versus Angel” opens the record up with a dark and eerie organ bit and McDuffie’s hushed vocals. It’s an interesting track, and probably one of the better ones off the whole disc. The vocals, most notably in cuts like “Those Are Pearls,” “Walkin’ Blues” and “The Modern,” sound similar to old Beatles material. The hushed vocals and trippy echo effect I can only endure for so long. That being said, most of the other parts of the songs were excellent, like the trumpets in “The Modern.”
There was no holding back on “Medinah,” which featured all sorts of ensemble instrumentation including a killer horns section. It sounds akin to a Chicago piece. Other great instrumental sections can be found on tracks like “River’s Song” and “Inside Out.” The hushed vocals come back on the tracks “Dregs” and “Inside Out,” but they just seem to work a lot better with those particular songs.
Most of the fragments needed to make great songs are there. It’s a lyrically and instrumentally sound disc, with a lot of great tunes, but the vocals leave something to be desired on more than one occasion on this record.