Keith Hallett is one of Fredericton’s signature musicians, well-recognized by the twang of his vocals and his lucid stage presence. Teamed up with Drew Budovitch, formerly of Fredericton favourite Maiden Names, they form Janowskii, a band dressed in a delta-doom outfit that provides a powerful trip with a blend of rock, blues and other sounds you just can’t put your finger on.
Their debut, self-titled album, is cohesive and executes the art of building anticipation, giving the listener just enough of a release that they return wanting more.
The track list starts with “Treat Everybody the Same,” a song that makes you want to dance by the way the groove and vocals play off each other. The pace builds, becoming more frantic, almost getting ahead of itself before ending on a final scream from Hallett.
A similar pace is featured on the track “Dyin’ Bed,” only it’s heavier and more saturated with fuzz and distortion.
The album transitions to an emotional tone on “Confusion Prince,” bringing somber guitar tones paired with soft, rumbling drums and a moving crescendo in Hallett’s vocals. This builds into the track “Did,” which is laced with blues elements and a riff that hits home with every note. The track fades down into a soft pocket and the tempo slows, before an energetic shift back into the main hook.
The next track, “Down With The Wind,” kicks off with a myriad of open chords before settling into hard plucked guitars on the verses. This is coupled by rapid fire lyrics that Hallett drones and eventually howls out as the track progresses.
“Genocide” is the best composition on this album. The song keeps up with the theme of anticipation in the verses with their loudest, yet slowest played riff. The drum track is Budovitch’s best, with gigantic sounding toms and loose notes on the hi-hat. The snare rolls at the end of each chorus, leaving an incredible impression on the album when paired with the passion Hallett has when he screams the lyrics “It’s a genocide.”
The last part of the album settles into the laid back, top string grooves on “Steady Rollin’” and “Blow My Top” before concluding on the track “Lunnie,” which has an eerie vibration of guitars and some of Hallett’s darkest sounding vocals.
The album fades out in a maniacal, unexpected headspace. However, considering how obscure the album is, it’s a fitting conclusion.