Across their self-titled debut effort, Newark, NJ based duo The Jack Moves captured the duality of the city’s existence, from the crummy and rude glory hole bandits of Penn Station to cherry blossom park lovers north of the city. The seaside soul meets skate-punk funk narrative was artfully carried forward on the band's sophomore offering Free Money, which was named one of 2018's best albums of the year by KCRW.
Once again it’s on… after a stint stuck in solitude, The Jack Moves are back in the ring. Still in love, but not falling. This time, they’re the prize. This go-round, they’re coming out swinging, not too cute for a scuffle. Still cruising, but now it's for a bruising. Legendary producer/arranger Paul Kyser dubbed The Jack Moves “the baddest band in New York City," and they sound every bit of it on their third full length LP Cruiserweight.
Since that last outing, which included two cross-country road tours in 2019, Zee Desmondes and Teddy Powell have collected the experiences from their previous travels, and brought them back to home soil, where they would inevitably get deeper into their Jersey roots. To examine what distinguishes a city like Newark and a state like New Jersey from any other. How it’s become like an alternate dimension, somewhat stuck in the past, but simultaneously far off into the future. To further connect with an unusual cast of characters, and translate their passion and mysticism into song. Still dripping with hard soul, but not quite as obvious to categorize…
With Cruiserweight, The Jack Moves take a cinematic approach to song making. Each tune is a vignette, where the fellas get deep into character, to deliver essential parts of the story. As the plot thins and thickens, we’re treated to the sound we’ve come to love, along with a few new card tricks brought to the table.
With its infectious, ebullient hook and jaunty flute, lead single “Somebody's Watching You” might seem like a sweet paean to longing, to desire—but it's also an ode to looking in its many forms, to the interplay of gazes online and in real life, to observing, being observed, and performing for the eyes of others. Follow up single "Seabra" is a breezy and romantic, mid-tempo ballad, calling back to Philly soul acts like Teddy Pendergrass or Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, but infused with a sweet Brazilian samba rhythm, à la Astrud Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim. The Jack Moves enable disparate elements to coexist within sweet soul/R&B, much like the Brazilian community in their home-base of Newark has become an intrinsic part of the city's character. “Lionel Richie” is a hard soul banger, complete with throbbing bassline, menacing drums, luscious string and horn arrangements and cocky vocals. The song is reminiscent of The Ohio Players and Rick James funk, or INXS dance-rock if spun at one of David Mancuso's infamous ‘70s parties at The Loft. It's a distinctly east coast R&B sound, but able to sit comfortably alongside a contemporary outer-regional song like "Am I Wrong" by Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, or joints by artists like Bakar and Frank Ocean. Imagine a steaming subway commute through the bowels of the city, to emerge into the powder keg that is NYC… ‘Lionel Richie' is that energy. Perfect for modern and nostalgic soul, funk, boogie, rare groove, and disco playlists.
Overall, Cruiserweight is a potent dose of everything we've come to know and love from The Jack Moves, from the sweet soul of "When You're In Love" to the rock & roll tinged "Gatti vs Ward," but with a noticeably more dynamic range. With this record, The Jack Moves promise to strengthen their foothold within the current musical landscape, occupying greater space across genres, and taking significant steps forward into this next chapter.
In 2022 The Jack Moves have toured with Thee Sacred Souls, Ghostfunk Orchestra and Weapons of Mass Creation. They’ve been sampled on songs featuring Ghostface Killah and Conway the Machine, and have performed at Brixton Academy, Red Rocks and Billboard Live in Tokyo. Their singles “Somebody’s Watching You” and “Seabra” can be heard on Morning Becomes Eclectic. For those who may have contemplated betting against The Jack Moves… you might be stupid, but don’t be crazy!