The new album Dreams of the Dying, Light of the Living by Boise band Jumping Sharks wouldn't be hard to label as country, but that label wouldn't quite cover it. It could also be called psychedelic, with technical instrumental jam sessions interspersed throughout the album, but that wouldn't quite do it justice, either.
Jumping Sharks' sound stems from vocalist Zane Norsworthy, who sounds like a cross between Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. He gives Jumping Sharks a classic sound, but it's a sound broken up ingeniously with the assistance of keys and unpredictable guitar solos that give Jumping Sharks a psychedelic--yet classic--sound.
The album stand-out, "Bullies," starts with an atmospheric, jazzy combination of guitar, laid-back drums and mood-setting piano. It's a relaxed feel, but one that is abruptly interrupted when the chorus starts and turns it into a song that could set the stage for a rowdy bar scene of locals slugging beer mugs together, singing along with every word.
Norsworthy's nod-to-The-King voice is best displayed on "Hard On Me," where he sings, "Keep us all runnin' on a lonely heart / Keep us all runnin' on a lonely heart" with a voice that could be mistaken as an Elvis sample. Those vocals are then mixed with a synth-heavy, punk-paced funk and laced with perfectly placed guitar solos, and "Hard On Me" is the result.
Though their sound is hard to label--country, psychedelic, alternative rock--Jumping Sharks aren't hard to listen to. On Dreams of the Dying, Light of the Living, Jumping Sharks have created a CD that is both party music and musically tight. A musician can pick this up and appreciate it for its musical qualities or it could play in a jukebox on a Saturday night and energize a crowd the way "Black Betty" does.