Drummer Brian Jones' projects snap together some of the most creative local players with recombinant Lego logic. His frequent dispatches from the artistic front are somewhat difficult to tell apart, given their minimal black-and-white packaging. All four of his 2007 releases are recommended, but funky melodies and rock instrumentation make "Lux" an ideal place to start.
"Lux" is built around the complementary guitar styles of Trey Pollard and Sam Wilson, with bassist Matt Hall and Jones laying down the rhythm. It's mostly originals, although there is a ghostly take on the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby." One of the charms in Jones' projects is the multiple layers of action and interaction; everyone is always doing something interesting.
"Rich Man Poor Man" is equally engaging. The Boots of Leather band was originally formed to play the songs of The Velvet Underground. "Rich Man Poor Man" replaces the Velvet covers with a wide range of songs, including the Beatles' "Blue Jay Way" and a mournful take on the militaristic "Rally Round the Flag." Pianist Daniel Clarke, now touring with Mandy Moore, is a particular standout.
The other two releases are duets. "Snakeform" features Jones' longest-running collaboration, with fellow Agents of Good Roots alumnus (and Boots of Leather member) JC Kuhl. "Duo" pairs Jones with his teacher, the great ex-VCU drum instructor Howard Curtis. The intensity won't be to everyone's taste, but these intimate sessions, with their high-wire inventiveness, are arguably Jones' most personal statements. S