Friday, May 10, 2013

Review: Jensen Reed - The Left Coast

What’s that? You say you’ve never heard of Jensen Reed? Well, you might be surprised. Because, since his move to The Left Coast, this kid’s steadily been making a name for himself.

The rising artist’s career started humbly in the Tar Heel state of North Carolina when a classmate asked him to duet on the Beastie Boys’ “Pass the Mic” for a talent show. The crowd loved it and so did Reed. He set his sights on the big time and, drawing heavily on the influence of the Beastie Boys, along with bands like The Doors, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, among others, and set about making music. Eventually, Reed was performing with his college band, Plan B, for crowds of 5,000 in Raleigh-Durham. Yet, the artist soon found himself feeling the need to make a move.
So, in 2007 the budding artist set his sights on Los Angeles. While keeping his day job as a tennis pro, as well as stepping out and getting his real estate license, Reed kept pushing ahead with his musical dreams in the difficult L.A. scene.

“At first it was somewhat intimidating,” he admits. “But then I rocked a couple of shows and it gave me a lot of confidence.”
That confidence has brought Jensen Reed far, seeing him sign a deal with a publishing company and has "had song placements in the lauded series “Friday Night Lights,” Showtime’s “House of Lies”, the Oscar-nominated film “The Messenger” and several MTV and VH1 shows. And with the release of his debut album, The Left Coast, his star is only sure to rise higher.

For, with this release, it’s easy to see what the buzz is all about. Reed carries himself musically in a way that is far beyond his years, crafting quality rock and hip-hop elements together into a mélange of power and poise. Underlying many of Reed’s tracks is an overwhelming side of darkness and moodiness, as evidenced in standouts like “American Psycho,” colored with Kid Cudi-esque riffs and effects and the Linkin Park-feeling “Countdown,” complete with riveting keys and a haunting arrangement. “Ricochet” carries the theme along as well as on “Throw You the Rope” which features a guest performance from Johnny Pacar.
Yet, all is not epic and moody with Reed as he ably displays throughout the rest of the recording. The title track is an appropriately sunny, driving track that begs airplay on a hot summer afternoon, windows down, as you drive to the beach, while “Something Missing,” featuring The Mowglis, is another bright ray of sunshine, the communal chorus lines bringing a distinctly indie feel to the proceedings while incessant piano tones plunge things forward. “Rocketship” pushes ahead with positive lyrics and a driving bass drum kicking throughout as “Lights Come On,” which showcases Lauren Mayhew, is a pop driven track that lets Reed showcase his skills as an arranger.

The keyboards play a role once again in the multilayered “Can’t Downplay (Going Home)”, accented by a catchy percussion arrangement and “So You Know,” which finds Reed drawing help from Drew Seeley, is another worthwhile listen, Reed’s synth fills meeting with the percussion notes nicely and forming a great gumbo of sound.
Jenson Reed? You might not know him now but, mark this reviewer’s words, you soon will. The Left Coast is a great record and it’s only a matter of time before this young artist is rocking the charts hard. Reed’s about to blow up and we’ll be glad to say that we knew him when.

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