Swimming with the Sharks – art by Chris Visions and Rico Renzi
Jeremy: “Swimming…” has just enough twang to relay the frustration of being an artist in a society that seems to devalue one’s craft in favor of capitalism and the scramble to get ahead of the next guy. Chris Visions interprets this as Jack playing for a crowd of shark people. The blood-like ribbons emanating from Jack’s guitar brings a crowd of sharks in business suits, pushing through the crowd. As they loosen their ties, Jack tightens his string tie. And, that’s the end…? I actually really dig that it’s left open ended. It feels like a fight’s a-brewin’, but who knows for sure?
Getting Good – art by Rich Tommaso
Steve: Getting Good is a slower number featuring the beautiful vocals of Lydia Loveless. The song is about getting up and pushing on when things don’t go well. It’s a fairly typical country song, but it is rendered wonderfully by the harmonizing of Hage and Loveless. The two are seamless here. The song also has a distinctive guitar solo, and I’m not usually a guitar solo guy. This one is appropriate and perfect. As for the story by Rich Tommaso, it is a very cartoony venture of only two pages. It does follow the song’s first verse, but fails to pull the emotion out of the message. Where there should be a note of desperation, there is none. It simply reads as a guy having a fairly bad day going out to play a gig. Another page to show a hint of anguish before the triumphant concert would have helped.
Hurricane – art by Vlad Legostaev
Jeremy: The lyrics of “Hurricane” seem to be a bit stream of consciousness, which fits the theme: you can’t really control what happens. You’re just stuck in it, and hopefully, things will work out. Vlad’s futuristic sci-fi vision shows us Jack stuck on a flying bus, jammed in amongst the commuters. He finally steps off, just in time to get rained on. Then he drives (flies?) out to a party with his guitar, and promptly blacks out. He wakes up alone, hung over, and stranded, eventually catching a ride on that same crowded bus.
Elevator – art by Khoi Pham and Morry Hollowell
Jeremy: This may show my age, but I feel like “Elevator” is JTR’s “Working for the Weekend.” In the BEST possible rockin’ way! (And this song does ROCK!) “Work sucks, so let’s party hard tonight, and see what kind of adventure we can stumble into!” Khoi Pham’s condensed story shows us the band packed into an elevator in full Day of the Dead regalia, severely out of place among the normies. They pile into the car to head to a gig, taking the stage, and letting loose with an enthusiastic “LET’S RIDE!”
Socks – art by Nick Cagnetti
Steve: The beginning of Socks is a refreshing change in the album. The song opens with a heavy bass groove before jumping in with “You chewed me up,” the first fight between our young lovers. The song walks us through a typical relationship with ups and downs. Hage launches into a catchy chorus that will have listeners singing along. The art by Nick Cagnetti takes us on a “trippy” ride for Jack as he goes from fight to flight to reconnection. Fans of Mike Allred will enjoy this one- vibrant colors and insane visuals. I’m not sure that the story comes across as much as I just enjoy the visuals. In that respect, great song and cool visual accompaniment.
In the Trees – art by Justin Mason and Simon Gough
Jeremy: “Trees” is a super solid country blues groover about breaking away from your parents to find your own path in life. Justin Mason shows us Jack in a post-apocalyptic landscape, all bombs, dust, and animal bones. Jack climbs up, “In the Trees,” to hop onto the back of a giant moth! Personally, I’d love to see where he’s headed.
Secret Cities – art by Chris Brunner and Rico Renzi
Jeremy: This is a beautiful song, possibly my favorite vocal performance of the album, all built atop drummer Kevin Rader’s easy shuffle. George says it was inspired by walking alone in NYC, and the single page of art reflects that. We see Jack observing scenes from all over the city, itself a giant melting pot of diverse people, every one of them in their own situation, feeling their own emotions, and living in their own “Secret Cities.”
Steve: Everything about this project makes me happy. The experience takes me back to better musical times of my youth- comic shop owner tells customer (my boy Jeremy) about a book he might like. That book leads to him finding this cool new band. Jeremy shares cool new band with his friends (of which I am one). I now sit on my couch listening to the music as I read and experience the stories in the comic. It reminds me of sitting on my bed listening to music and reading liner notes on my vinyl records when I was a kid.
As for the products, the album is solid from opening track to the closer; there isn’t a clunker in the bunch. This is clearly a love child for George Hage who is spreading a much needed message of hope in dark times. I bought in hook, line and sinker. The comic book is of the highest quality. Heavy stock cover, glossy pages and vibrant colors. Jack the Radio and Wave New World placed a Q&A with the band, band photos and concept sketches in the book. This is a top tier effort. I really hope in the future that other bands would try the same. I can’t express the joy of reading and listening. Thank you!
Jeremy: I’d like to offer a hearty shout out to my friend, Shawn, who owns my local comic shop (Comics Cubed, in beautiful downtown Kokomo, Indiana!). Had he not randomly handed me a comic that he thought I’d enjoy, I likely never would have found what is quickly becoming a band I absolutely love. The comic is fantastic, fun, and damn good-looking. It led me to seek out the band’s music, which is also stellar! A Wave Blue World is publishing quality books. According to Shawn, they’re a joy to do business with. I’m beyond stoked they decided to produce this project with George Hage and Jack the Radio. The entire package has brought a light to my cold, cranky heart.
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