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Jed Whedon

Jed Whedon - "History of Forgotten Things" Album - Allmediany.com Review

Wednesday 1 September 2010, by Webmaster

With a name like Whedon, all projects are going to get noticed. After all, Joss Whedon was the man who brought us Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which has perhaps one of the biggest cult followings of 90s TV shows with new fans appearing daily. Joss also brought us Angel, Dollhouse, Firefly/Serenity and a boatload of comics and movie scripts that span pop culture.

But while Joss created Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, it was his brother Jed who helped score the music. Now Jed’s on his own with an album titled History of Forgotten Things, released August 10, and while the album is not Dr. Horrible 2 (don’t worry—that’s in the works), it is a perfect placeholder for Whedon geeks while the brothers’ other projects are still in development.

“Interstate” opens the record with light electronic drums and effects along the lines of Postal Service or Imogen Heap. Jed’s soft voice, filtered at first, meets a light yet driving beat. Then comes “Tricks on Me,” which sounds like it belongs on a Zack Braff movie soundtrack (think “New Slang” by The Shins). With more soft drums, piano and guitar and Jed’s self-harmonization, it definitely has a poppy, indie rock sound that keeps the vibe laid back.

“To Be Money” opens like a track by The Killers, but it still has a fairly minimal feel. Jed’s voice is probably better suited for lighter music anyway, as his vocals come off soft and airy, especially when he hits high notes in the chorus. In typical Whedon fashion, Jed also uses friends to sing the backup “la la las,” one of whom is Felicia Day of Dr. Horrible, Buffy and The Guild.

Dollhouse fans will recognize “Drones” as the featured tune in “Belonging,” an episode written by Jed and his wife Maurissa Tanchaeron, who also provides backing vocals on this and a few other tracks. The song is haunting and dark, featuring a swirling electric organ and minimal percussion. A surprising, somewhat Spanish guitar solo is also appears. It is definitely the standout song of the album, as well as one of the most beautiful arrangements.

“Sugar Cane” jumps back into the poppy, indie rock sound. The only real surprise is the distorted synth solo in the middle that is rather spacey. The harmonies, however, are definitely on point and, well, sweet-sounding against the slightly rough electric guitars.

The ethereal “Ancestors” is a brief, reflective song featuring a haunting violin in the distance. Its’ an odd juxtaposition to “Last Man,” which Joss called an “80s sounding dance groove.” The song has poppy, electro beats, but the verses are still light in comparison to the punchy chorus. The track then slows down with a mellow jazz guitar solo by Whedon brother Sam, which offers a perfect segue into the chill-out groove of “Heat of a Match.” Mellow tones and soft harmonies set a relaxing tone before a soft drum shuffle leads into a big midsection and piano solo.

The music to “Troublemaker” sounds a bit like a dream sequence in a video game, but the song is deep and personal, written after Maurissa’s stay at the hospital after a severe Lupus attack (she’s fine now). The vocals are intentionally raw and low-fi, recorded just after the incident, and the pain in Jed’s voice adds strength to the song. Speaking of Maurissa, “Bad Son” is another collaborative effort, with Maurissa on the chorus and a story excerpt written and read by Whedon brother Zack. The song has a slow driving beat and Gypsy-like violins that echo throughout the tune, and it has a vibe reminiscent of epic movies like Narnia.

“One for the Ages” is an optimistic, somewhat inspirational rock song that ultimately builds to a peak with an almost techno synthesizer melody. The album closer, conversely, is not as upbeat, at least lyrically. “These Words” opens with a simple acoustic melody and the line “These words mean nothing to me.” The song, however, is strong even without many lyrics—drums sneak in and grow louder, and the guitars get harder, bringing the song to a head before dropping back out to the same lick from the intro, giving the record a soft end.

History of Forgotten Things may not be a mainstream release, but the Whedon fanbase is sure to enjoy it. It’s a departure from the quirky songs of Dr. Horrible, especially with its personal touch and Jed’s use of most of the Whedon friends and family. But it’s clear that he is making the music for himself, not just to make a quick buck while playing to fans. The compositions are all well-planned and very catchy, and Jed definitely proves his talent—no need for a push from Joss.

History of Forgotten Things by Jed Whedon and the Willing is out on iTunes, Amazon and Napster, and soon to be added to other services. There are no official plans for a physical release.