The Stryder - Jungle City Twitch (Cover Artwork)

The Stryder

Jungle City Twitch (2002)

Equal Vision

I really like this record. In a year filled by mostly stale releases, The Stryder returns with "Jungle City Twitch," an album that is as funky as its title. And by "funky," I do mean very good. The band went through a line-up shift in 2001, which left me skeptical about any new releases. Drummer Scottie Redix moved from behind the skins to guitar, and the band acquired a new drummer, Durijah Lang. Anyone who has heard the first record would say that Scottie leaving the drumkit would be a huge mistake, since he is a phenomenal player, but Durijah more than compensates for his move.

The album itself is also a shift for the band. It relies less on the pop-punk style that the first album was rooted in, and moves more toward a laid-back, chilled-out, funky style. This is what makes the album fun. It makes you want to smile and nod your head, and nothing in the vast independent music scene has made me want to do that for a long while. "Jungle City Twitch" is definitely an improvement in the lyrics category for The Stryder, whose first release suffered from slighly cheesy lyrics in some songs. With guitarists Peter and Scottie taking care of all the words on this disc, the cheese factor has almost dissappeared. In fact, the lyrics are actually very well-written. They only get kinda silly at one point in the song "Missing Without You," which other than these few lines, is my favorite song on the album. The offending lines read, "...and when there's a hole in my head, you kiss me instead....the sky won't turn red, when you're in the bed.."

The opening track sets the tone and pace for the disc, blending a head-bobbing funky sound with rocking guitars and harmoniusly layered vocal tracks. It also displays the musical talent of the band. The new drummer is amazing, and gives Scottie's drumming on the first disc a run for its money. The guitars are big, and seem to melt into one another. The clean parts are saturated with phase shifters and thumping bass, and the rocking parts are filled with distorted guitars that seem to blend nicely. A surprise for me on the album was the soulful singing. Check out the vocal work on "Missing Without You."

"Jungle City Twitch" flows nicely, opening with several solid tracks that rock and groove at the same time, then it slows down for a ballad or two, and then ends with "Circular Highway," a song that seems to feature drummer Durijah. The other three members of the band fall into a groove while the drummer basically solos for ten minutes. The extended jam seems to be meant to make the disc a little longer, but it doesn't hurt the overall effect of the album.

If you're bored with most of the albums that have come out recently, give the new Stryder LP a listen. It might surprise you, whether you've heard the band before or not.