Band of the Day

2011.10.02

Jonathan Boulet

Uplifting acoustic tribal pop with a starry electronic touch
When the fires start to burn 
all across the world, we're stepping in turn.
lyrics from A Community Service Announcement

Emerging Australian folk-pop musician Jonathon Boulet wrote, recorded, produced and played almost every instrument in his tiny garage studio for his 2009 debut album, Jonathan Boulet, all by the age of 21. After playing the Splendour in the Grass music festival in the summer of 2010, he continued to perform and tour with other acts such as Kate Nash, The Middle East, Tame Impala, and Mumford and Sons. Boulet snagged added exposure when his album became the weekly feature on the Australian youth radio station “Triple J” in December 2009. The music video for his single “A Community Service Announcement” caught the attention of Kanye West, who posted it on his personal blog. Besides working as a solo artist, Boulet is also a member of the indie rock band Parades, and a thrash metal band called Snakeface. Currently signed to Modular Recordings, Boulet is working on his follow-up album.

From the first few lines of “Continue Calling,” the first track off of Jonathan Boulet's self-titled debut album, you're instantly transported into another world. As Boulet sings “Come join us, we don't bite,” you might think he is a tribal elder recruiting members for a walkabout, instead of a singer/multi-instrumentalist from Australia. But instead of leading troops through a spiritual journey through the outback, Boulet offers a place where “we only dance and write” and “dance our cares away.” It's also a place, much like Peter Pan's Neverland, where “we're never growing old” (Boulet himself is in his early 20s). Considering the fact that he wrote, recorded, produced and played almost every instrument in his small garage studio for the album, it's surprising to hear such a communal, almost tribal feeling. On songs like “Ones Who Fly Twos Who Die,” for instance, a booming drum beat brings to mind stomping around a bonfire in the middle of the outback, with a wolf-like pack of friends clapping and whooping along. It would fit in perfectly in films like The Jungle Book or Where The Wild Things Are. In “North To South East To You,” Boulet showcases his background as a drummer (he's also a member of the bands Parades and Snakeface). It's rich with rhythmic depth, with a handclap-driven build up layered over a militaristic drumbeat, and his vocals becoming slightly wispier, taking notes from Radiohead's Thom Yorke. Although such prominent rhythmic features are a powerful driving force throughout the album, they're not overpowering to the extent that the album lacks variety. Take “10 Billion Years,” which is subdued yet soothing, with the angelic voice of Rebecca Shave providing a lullaby-like harmony. Or “Latch Key Kids Unite,” where Boulet demonstrates his ability to hit higher notes over gentle guitar plucking, swirling strings, and shimmering cymbals. Ending the album is “A Community Service Announcement,” a mellower number that employs the use of tropical-sounding guitars, giving it a dream-like feel that's echoed in sentiments like “living in your dreams and influence speech, leaving it to grow in your backyard.” It's no surprise that gems like this have already caught the attention of superstars like Kanye West, who posted the music video on his personal blog—multiple times. He may just be in his early 20s, but Jonathan Boulet has already honed his talent for creating uplifting music with a global, communal feel.