J. Arthur Keenes is something else. Setting himself apart from many other chiptune artists with his well-produced, stylish, and uncommonly cool offerings, his latest EP makes for another highly enjoyable listen. "The World's Smallest Violin" marks a definite maturity and progression in songwriting for Keenes, who delivers a dose of brilliant bedroom-produced tunes in five tracks.
Interestingly, the classic GameBoy which was so prominent in Keenes' earlier work takes more of a backseat role here, but the additional and varied instrumentation, including a classy use of electric guitar, does not disappoint. The opening track "Monsters" includes a lovely chorus, which is further complimented by calm, unique vocals. The lyrics are fairly vague and hard to decipher, but the atmosphere conveyed here is consistently excellent. "Southern Accent" ratchets things up with an impressive, extended instrumental section led by a rocking guitar and carefully-calculated percussion. The short, sweet theme of "Trying Not to Hide", on the other hand, brings the EP to a close quite well.
With an appeal not limited to his clear 8-bit influence, J. Arthur Keenes has crafted an awesome set of songs with "The World's Smallest Violin". Although starkly different from past releases, the new style sounds great and is totally worth your time. And oh, that cover art!
SCORE: 8.6 out of 10 - "Great"
[You can stream or download the EP here: http://thejarthurkeenesband.bandcamp.com/album/the-worlds-smallest-violin]