Reading up on Chicago area quartet Stoplight Jones, you wouldn't expect their brash brand of crunchy riffs and soulful, even jazz-like, precision to have come out of their rather original remote location and straight-laced education. But that's exactly what we get on Douse The Fire: a frantic, yet somehow smooth, dichotomy of math-heavy time signatures, rich vocals and evocative songwriting. It's an impressive and well-structured EP, especially for a debut release from such a young act.
"We all met at Western Illinois University in the middle of nowhere studying jazz and we were in a band called Marcos and the Mack Daddys," recalls guitarst/vocalist Brady Lavin, about his initial frienship with drummer Carter Stirtz, saxophonist/bassist Joshua Davis and keyboardist/vocalist Steve Solomon. Though some of the memers majored in music-related topics, others focused on finance and law enforcement, but they all share an equal desire for the sounds they were creating. "We would always play in a DIY venue called The Loft that (I) lived in and ran. It was an old furniture showroom turned apartment turned indie rock venue."
After college, the group relocated to Chicago and Lavin describes the band now being a "leaner, tighter version of the old band." It's hard to summarize their influnces to just a handful, as each track bursts forth with nods to blistering funk, dance-centric rock and groove-heavy jazz, often within the same four-minute tune. For instance, the opening title track begins with distant vocals and twinkling guitars, before snapping to attention with air-tight drums and elastic strumming, leading into yet another welcome change of distorted amps and half-time pacing. Elsewhere, "Pull the Trigger" is a stomping cavalcade of Davis' inventive soloing, Solomon's wild keys and Stirtz's monstrous kit. The inclusion of a live track (the sprawling "My Blood," recorded at Reggie's on South State) and an acoustic rendition of "Supernova" does a great job of adding some variety to the mix, and the dark lyrics in "Devil's Dance Hall" are nicely juxtaposed against a thumpy chorus of peppy, old-school "ba-ba"s. It all makes for a dirty, intoxicating package, sure to have audiences moving throughout 2013.