Jim Testa – There Goes The Neighborhood / 2004 Jersey Beat Music / 7 Tracks / http://www.jerseybeat.com/jimtesta.htm / firstname.lastname@example.org / Reviewed 11 October 2004
Totally not what I was imagining my boss for Jersey Beat, Jim Testa, to sound like. Nor was the general feel and production level what I had imagined from eir, but enough of the bland statements. “There Goes The Neighborhood” starts off with “Planet Williamsburg”, a rich track that benefits as much from the mouth-harp as it does from Jim’s smooth, John (TMBG)-styled vocals. In the Spartan nature that is the opening track to the disc, the straight-forward drumming may be the most compelling section of the instruments found, in its purely pedestrian role. Flitting around through the disc are Tris McCall’s organs, providing an equal quirkiness to Jim’s often off-the-wall vocals. Where “Queer Eye” propels itself, the general feeling is that a second backing set of vocals would have shored up the emptiness present on the track.
The quiet nature of “Punk Rock Is Not Daycare” provides the most biting social commentary on the disc, with Jim’s vocals attaining a Ramones-like ennui with those individuals that ey berates through the track. Again, Tris gives the track an electronic touch, but creates a more silky vocal presence in the synthesizer lines that act as if someone else is singing along with Jim. Making the subject matter match the tone of the track again during “Weehawken”, the soulful harmonica lines and strummy guitar provide the perfect vies to Jim’s Aristotelian vocals. Mixing together The Doors and Gary Allan for “Sally’s Got A New Tattoo”, Jim conjures up the spirit of another Jim. This time, the Lizard King slips out from the rock of eir’s Paris grave and pushes lyrics over a furiously-playing backing band. Finishing out the new tracks on the disc is “Carla”, a track that shows yet another facet of Jim’s extraordinarily diverse musical repertoire, falling back into a 70s singer-songwriter flair.
Jim Testa has came out and like a chameleon, has changed colors too many times to count on this disc. Unlike Steve Lieberman, though, Jim continually has a high standard – where Steve would cut an album with 20 tracks, Jim chooses to pare and distill into six incredible tracks. Never seeming out-of-touch or dated in the least, one can only look forward to new tracks, new EPs, even if it may be years between these EPs. The replay value is high, Jim and eir’s backing group of musicians create the perfect atmosphere around Jim to blossom with each and every new cut.
Top Tracks: Planet Williamsburg