-Album Reviewed By Jacob Kresovich–
X Ambassadors, originally from Ithaca, New York, first formed in 2010. The alternative rock band is led by Sam Nelson Harris whose vocals are supported by his brother, Casey Harris on keys, Noah Feldshuh on guitar and Adam Levin on drums. The band’s first EP, Love Songs Drug Songs was released in 2013. The EP landed them on the up-and-coming music scene with the single ‘Unconsolable’ finding a spot on the soundtrack for the video game Need for Speed: Most Wanted.
Following successes gained by touring and promoting their first EP, X Ambassadors has recently released their second major work, an EP titled, The Reason. The band’s streak now continues and the song ‘Jungle’ has performed phenomenally, being used in the Orange is the New Black trailer as well as in the international World Cup commercial featuring Brazilian soccer star, Neymar. The latter publicity caught the attention of Jay-Z, who rhymed a verse over the track for another version of the World Cup commercial. Although ‘Jungle’ is clearly the band’s most notable song, a closer look at the EP shows the diverse talents of Sam and the rest of the group.
The album opens with a heartfelt song ‘Free and Lonely’ in which Sam sings about different phases in his life. Working backwards, Sam mentions moving home, getting a job, earning an income and marrying a girl after an unsuccessful move out west. The tone of the song expresses regret about the life he left behind in order to meet the expectations of growing up. He looks fondly back on the time when he was “free and lonely” and “when people would see [him] on the street, and stop and stare,” hinting that he has found some success as a performer.
‘Unsteady’ is another example of Sam’s soulful and melodic voice. This song is the most genuine and sober of the tracks on the EP. The chorus features Sam emotionally singing “Hold, hold on, hold onto me/ ‘Cause I’m a little unsteady, a little unsteady,” as he cries to both his Mother and Father for help. He pleads, “If you love me don’t let go” allowing the listener to imagine the precariousness of the lyricist’s situation.
Finally, ‘Jungle’ is the core of the album, featuring Jamie N Commons. The reason for the commercial success of the song is likely due to the heavy-handed tone and robust presence starting from the drums and carrying through to the vocals. The track carries a sound reminiscent of the Black Keys or Jack White, who are obvious influences. Outside of the song’s excellent production, the lyrics may explain why it was picked to be the theme of the 2014 World Cup commercial. The chorus begins, “Won’t you follow me into the jungle/ain’t no God on my streets in the heart of the jungle” which fits well with the World Cup as it is being hosted partly in Amazonian Brazil.
X Ambassadors are an up and coming band and the sky is the limit. Their stock continues to rise as they become increasingly visible on the world stage. Landing a song with Jay-Z is no small feat, but to have written the theme song for one of the worlds’ most watched sporting events puts this accomplishment in another stratosphere. The X Ambassadors are on the fast track to success with a rapidly increasing following. The band’s achievements to date have afforded them new opportunities to experiment and audiences should anticipate more fantastic music to come. Farewell small town heroes, this group is bound for glory!
Post Photo Courtesy of: www.thisfiction.com