The Cincinnati-based art pop band Pomegranates will change the way you think about fruit. The November release of One of Us marks the band’s third album in three years. Just under forty-five minutes, these thirteen tracks create a psychedelic dreamlike state sans substance abuse. Oh, behold: the power and beauty of music.
Back in 2006 (also remembered as the International Year of Deserts and Desertification and completely unrelated to the group) drummer Jacob Merritt and vocalist, guitarist, and keyboardist Isaac Karns went against Reel Big Fish’s universal advice and started a band. Joey Cook joined to add another set of vocals, guitar, and eighty-eight keys. On their most recent album, Daniel Lyon replaced Josh Kufeldt as third guitarist. Lyon is not the only change to the project; they switched labels from Lujo Records to Afternoon Records and co-produced the album with TJ Lipple of Aloha. Liple has also worked with notable college circuit bands including MGMT, Headlights, and Minus Story.
In their three-year career, Pomegranates has toured with Jimmy Eat World, Spoon, Peter Bjorn, Islands, and French Kicks.
On this most recent album, Pomegranates maturely manipulates their sound and tempo progressions, both between and within tracks. Think the experimentation of a jam band, like Phish, meets the indie sound of hipster Brooklyn. Unlike their last two albums, Everything is Alive and Everybody Come Outside, One of Us also features strings which further develops their sound.
Joey and Issac trade off vocals throughout all thirteen tracks, giving the album a level of dissociative identity disorder with three personalities: Joey songs, like “50s,” Isaac songs, like the title track “One of Us,” and joint songs, like “Prouncer.” If Jason Schwarztman of Coconut Records had a child with Chris Conley of Saves the Day (post Stay What You Are), the resulting cry would be Isaac’s sound. Joey’s voice is a softer Jake Snider of Minus the Bear and better compliments the band’s vibe.
Minimalistic tracks prevent the album from becoming a mush of psychedelic power jams. “Between Two Dreams” is a gentle yet sad piano ballad with simple yet powerful lyrics. Joey sings, “I hear your voice at night in my sleep/ Some memories are hard to keep/ If it’s love/ Let me stay.” The lyricism on the album as a whole is well done.
All this being said, while they are good at what they do, I can’t envision anyone ever saying, “Oh my god! Pomegranates is my favorite band!” Is the album worth checking out? Yes. Are they worth seeing in concert? Probably. Will I still be listening to them five years from now? Probably not. Shelf life is essential to success in the true music industry and it is precisely what Pomegranates lacks.
Recommended tracks: ”Skull Cakin,” “Prouncer,” “Between Two Dreams”