Jon McKiel Casts a Hypnotic 'Hex'

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BY Alex HudsonPublished May 6, 2024

Jon McKiel's 2020 album, Bobby Joe Hope, had an incredible backstory, involving a second-hand reel-to-reel recorder full of mysterious fragments of music that McKiel took it upon himself to flesh out. The follow-up, Hex, comes with no such narrative — and yet the results sound similarly lost in time, as if the East Coast songwriter has continued to commune with another era, even in the absence of any archival material to duet with.

That's particularly true of the opening track, a haunting soul shimmy that combines the ghostly wall-of-sound reverb of '60s pop with a more modern approach to looping, a lonely saxophone meandering along with the hypnotic groove.

Like Cindy Lee's Diamond Jubilee or Jessica Pratt's Here in the Pitch, Hex evokes the feeling of a bygone era without being constrained by its tropes. Even as McKiel crafts an approximation of brill building pop and Beatnik folk, his psychedelic guitar noodling and dense patchwork of percussive layers mean that Hex exists enigmatically out of time


(You've Changed Records)

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