Review: Chad Johnson - "Rollin'"

Chad Johnson - Rollin'
(2016 Self-Released)

"Two" seems to stumble at the starting blocks, its shuffling drumroll ironing out the wrinkles of its pace as it reaches for the baton. Wheezing from behind, a pair of guitar leads croak like nasal congestion, joined at the ankles, extending this wand at the peak of a three-legged stride. The track's pathos is derived from the dividing line drawn between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat: it's tragically pretty, like a picturesque blooper.

Named for the Cincinnati Bengals' now-retired wide receiver formerly known as Ochocinco, New York solo outfit Chad Johnson owes as much atmospheric credit to grass-stained autumns as it does to the athletic endeavors they house. The project's sophomore EP, Rollin', is driven by a rare blend of technical ability and heart, churning out its batch of jazz-infused riffs with the deceptive sense of ease that flutters on the surface of Mac Demarco's discography. 

Prefacing the aforementioned "Two" is "Hard To Find", a breezy, lounge-influenced tune that sandwiches its blurred reminiscence with meandering solos that seem to lazily stroll about the neighborhood as a dotted line reveals their roundabout path. It's a session of stretching before the race that follows. Breathe in, breathe out.

Closing number "Sorry" channels the beach-rock optimism of Dent May, pasting hooks to metronomic drum beats with a thin layer of keyboard buzz. Chad Johnson's starry-eyed refrain - "you don't have to stay / it'll always be ok" - slowly fades into the tides of cassette degradation. It's the sound of blind faith and sincerity running dry; the dehydration of a spirit clinging to the moisture of saliva.

get your popcorn ready