Newly formed Sof Srv kicks it beyond the usual pop-punk-jam-rock
Joshua Griffith: musician, soundman, bartender and irresistibly likeable guy. He’s always smiling, always laughing, always quick with a joke. Over the years I have known him, his music has been an extension of that vibe. The guy writes tunes that are really funny—so funny, in fact, that it’s easy to miss how well-written they are.
That can be a problem sometimes. See, I like funny tunes, and perhaps you do as well, gentle reader, but it is a niche after all, and playing in a niche has its own set of ups and downs. That’s why I was excited to hear that Josh has a new band, a new project, and a new album, all of which should conspire to give his considerable songwriting talent a broader audience.
The band is Sof Srv (pronounced sof-srv, Mr. G tells me). Besides Josh G. on rhythm guitar and vocals, the band features longtime collaborator Michael “Bean” Kerns (“Haricot” to his French fans) on lead and vocals, Matty Koff on bass and Pete Guild on drums and vocals.
Their new album is called Slf Srv Us, unless it’s called Fragile Egosystems (or possibly a third thing, should they think of something punnier). Doesn’t matter what it’s called; it’s a pretty kick-ass collection of jams.
I was given a sampling of three tunes to listen to. I would have had more, but the album is still in the process of being mixed down. The guys are taking a collaborative approach to their songwriting which is a good thing in this case...it isn’t always. It brings a balance to the music, which is itself a good indication of the balance between the players.
The right people are in this band, is what I’m saying. The music is a distillation of the various genres and backgrounds each man brings to the stage but overall, if we must use labels, I feel like it falls squarely in the jam band category.
Now hold on there, Chet! Odds are, half of you just went, “Oh, yay! Jam band music!” while the other half went, “Oh…yay. Jam band music.” I’m calling it that because that’s what I think it is. But as jam music goes, I think it has a much broader appeal than most, the result of the guys incorporating their own interests and styles into a sonic melting pot that works better than most I’ve heard.
In the first place, the tunes aren’t too long. Two of the three fell right around the five-minute mark, which kinda makes them the Ramones of jam music. There’s just enough space to let the instruments stretch their legs a bit, but not so much that you find yourself wondering what you need from the grocery store and whether or not your hamster is experiencing ennui.
My personal favorite tune of the lot is a twofer, “You and Me/Way Back Down.” Bean Kerns’ guitar tone is gorgeous, reminding me of nothing so much as a young David Gilmour. Don’t know if that’s what he was shooting for, don’t care, it’s what I hear and I love it. Halfway through, the song shifts gears into a much funkier jam, a sort of reggae/ska affair, and it’s that kind of dynamic shift from Floyd to Marley that exemplifies the solid compositional skills of the band.
A style that is too inclusive can sound cobbled together from odds and ends, but the seamless (and thoughtful) transitions these guys manage denote a measure of maturity and experience worthy of respect.
The album is recorded and is now in the final stages of post-production. While a release party with the one and only Hap Henniger is in the works, the date hasn’t been set yet. In the meantime, Sof Srv will be playing at JJ’s Bohemia on Sept. 8 with Shabti and Marbin and if the album is any indication, the live performance ought to be pretty damn fantastic.