The Idle Class is a pop culture magazine published in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and circulated state-wide, with a circulation of 5,000 readers.

Music review: Jamie Lou and the Hullabaloo

by Aaron Sarlo

Published September, 2015

I first saw Jamie Lou Thies perform in Russellville, Arkansas, at the super cool (and sadly now defunct) venue, The Cavern, a dingy, poorly lit hole with exposed wall studs and dumpster couches strewn around the room. I loved the venue, but its atmosphere didn't jibe with the one song I had known by Jamie Lou. For months prior, I had been playing Jamie Lou’s single, "Love's a‘Blazin'" regularly on my radio show, Shoog Radio, broadcast on Little Rock's beloved, 100,000 watt community radio station, KABF. “Love's a’Blazin’” is a terrific song, jazzy, dark, well-written. What is striking about hearing Jamie Lou for the first time is her stunning, effortlessly soulful singing voice. It was the voice, in that song, that made me look around The Cavern, wondering how it would fit into such an environment. 

When Jamie Lou and The Hullabaloo took the stage, from their first note, I was transfixed. There, in that dilapidated room, rang true her clear, pristine voice, careening off the crumbling plaster walls and concrete floor like a beautiful bird bounding about a cold, stone cage. For Arkansans in the know, I will draw an apt comparison. Jamie Lou’s singing voice rivals Adam Faucett‘s - not necessarily in volume (because Faucett sings loud!) but in tone, precision and stark beauty. One song Jamie Lou and The Hullabaloo played that night is, in my opinion, one of the best original songs to come out of Arkansas in a long while. I learned later that the song is named "Speaking In Lyrics," but that night, hearing “Speaking In Lyrics" for the first time, played in a room better suited for the bone-crunchiest of punk shows, I was introduced to music that shouId be heard by as many people as possible, performed by a phenomenal, super talented band - a band to make other bands jealous. Since that night at The Cavern, have had the pleasure to watch Jamie Lou and the Hullabaloo perform in a professional recording studio. I witnessed Jamie Lou give a remarkable, chill bumps-inducing performance in just one take.

Jamie Lou and the Hullabaloo is a great band, fronted by an immense talent. If this world turns out to be a just place, we will embrace their music with the infinite passion of a toddler taking her first steps into a life that she knows couldn't be anything less than perfect. 

Music review: Sean Fresh - The teshuva project I

by Aaron Sarlo

Published December, 2015

Arkansas’s own Sean Fresh is back with a new album, the first in a planned trilogy. The Teshuva Project I — Fresh Season is a lush, expansive, yet personal album, a shiny and well-produced record, from start to finish, showcasing Fresh’s rich, warm vocals throughout. Named after the Hebrew word for forgiveness, the album features an array of instruments played by skilled musicians. I recently had the pleasure of seeing Sean Fresh live, and damn if that band wasn’t even better live than on this record! There are dramatic skits at the beginning and end of most tracks, but they’re short and well-recorded. Stand out tracks include ‘My Heart,’ ‘Circles,’ and my own personal favorite, ‘Kill Em All,’ with its killer chorus and sudden, rapid fire freestyle breakdown, a feature on more than one cut, though not all. Give ‘Kill Em All’ one listen, and see if it’s not stuck in your head the rest of the day. The Idle Class recently caught up with Fresh to ask him a few questions about the album and its upcoming sequels. 

IC: How many members are in your band, and how many of them played on Teshuva?

SF: There are seven members, including myself. On the first part of Teshuva Project I, DJ Ellmatik and Rafael Powell (flute and sax, respectively) contributed. 

IC: When is Teshuva 2 coming out? 

SF: I am aiming to release The Teshuva Project II — Moscato and Leftovers in the first quarter of 2016. 

IC: What is behind the lyrics of the heaviest hitter on the record, ‘Kill Em All?’

SF: Anger. I had a lot of crap happen all at once. I was being laid off from a company that I had poured my heart and soul into. So, with a little more free time on my hands, I started watching more television and paying more attention to cap on social media. During that time, I saw innocent people being hurt, children being molested and having their innocence removed from them, my people being gunned down and treated like animals. My mother’s house was even broke into while she was off preaching the word of God. I was angry and I needed an outlet. While writing ‘Kill Em All,’ it was a little weird because my previous music was all about love, roses, and unicorn piss. This was different. This was the theme music for when the protected have to become the protectors. 

IC: What are your thoughts on contemporary hip hip, specifically hip hop here in Arkansas? 

SF: Arkansas is the best. We have the best talent, musicians, and work ethic. As you have seen before, whenever we are given a platform, we dominate. I love the music scene here. Whenever you hear a record, or witness a show, you can sense the creativity and hunger, and it feels great to be a part of the pack.

Music review: Bombay Harambee

by Aaron Sarlo

Published January, 2015

The year 2015 stands to be one of contemplation on the post-rock sound, omnipresent in American culture. Surely as the pendulum swings, popular music has begun to sway away from its fascination with what will, eventually be remembered (for better or worse) as "hipster" music – somber, "feely" music designed to a soundtrack for a twenty-something's mopey lifestyle rather than a convention-eschewing statement of truth. 

Bombay Harambee does not follow in this vein. They are a rock band in a post-post-rock world. Their songs are brash, and their songs snarl with 70s era guitar tones, way closer in execution and intent to Iggy Pop than to Death Cab for Cutie. Bombay's songs pile meaty chords (that ring like outtakes from a Rolling Stones record) on top of dirty, Mudhoney-esque riffs. Front man, Alexander Jones, sings smart lyrics with a stoicism that is strangely soothing in such powerful music. 

The band just released a full-length, Wolfman Fellowship, on cassette on Weiner Records.  Congratulations, Weiner Records. Bombay Harambee is brave stuff. You are working with a band that has clear potential, that crafts honest, complex songs, and not with a shoe-gazing band that drizzles dreary, amorphous blobs into a cookie cutter labeled "music."