With the release of their self-produced, full-length debut, 2018’s Great Album, Philadelphia-based indie trio Great Time — vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jill Ryan, Zack Hartmann (bass, synths) and Donnie Spackman (drums, synths) exploded into the local and national scenes: The album caught the attention of WXPN‘s Bruce Warren with several album tracks receiving regular rotation. The album also received attention from NPR, Earmilk and Paste Magazine.
The band also quickly developed a reputation as a must-see live act, playing prominent local venues like World Cafe Live, TLA and Underground Arts before being asked to join nationally touring act Caroline Rose on her East Coast and Midwest tour dates. The Philadelphia-based trio began last year by being the house band for Winnfred Coombe’s The Violet Hour, which featured Saturday Night Live cast members Alex Moffat and Melissa Villaseñor and guests Kristin Chenoweth and Gina Gershon. And just before the pandemic, the members of Great Time were set to open for Lawrence.
Much like countless bands and artists across the globe, the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into their touring plans; however, the Philadelphia trio have managed to remain busy writing, recording and self-producing new material, including the Sounds Like ________EP series. “The idea behind this Sounds Like series of EPs is simple: We want to make what we want to make. We’re inspired by tons of different styles and sounds, and we feel most genuine when we’re creating music without any limitations or boundaries,” Great Time’s Jill Ryan explains in press notes. “The title is a response to the critiques we received on our first album. Critics have suggested that we should pick a lane or a genre, and Sounds Like is our way of defying that while staying true to ourselves.”
Released yesterday, the second EP of the series, Sounds Like ______ [Vol. 2] further establishes Great Time’s genre-defying sound and approach with the EP’s material sonically focusing on the electro pop element of their overall sound. Thematically, the EP touches upon the frustrations of being a musician/artist, self-doubt, anxiety, obsessive thoughts — and the urge to keep creating despite all of that.
Sounds Like ______ [Vol. 2]‘s latest single, “80z Slo Jam” is a sleek and slickly produced song centered around jagged synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, chiming keys and Ryan’s sultry delivery paired with an infectious, club friendly hook. The song’s title strikes me as being rather ironic: First it ain’t exactly a slow jam. And secondly, the track sonically — to my ears, at least — is a mix of Nu Shooz-era synth pop and Lenses-era Soft Metals. Regardless of all of that, the track a finely crafted banger that captures day job frustration and ennui, longing and desire for more than working for the weekend.
The recently released video is a slick fever dream that follows the members of Great Time as bored and dissatisfied office drones with big dreams of escaping the rat race and making it.
With shows and tours actually being things again, the band will kick off at regional fall tour on September 18 with a set at WXPN’s Xponential Fest before a run of shows in their hometown, NYC, Boston and Vermont. More on that to come, I hope! Additionally, Great Time’s Jill Ryan will sit in on saxophone for Japanese Breakfast‘s sold out, five night run at Union Transfer, which started yesterday and ends on August 11. She’ll also join Cassandra Jenkins and St. Vincent for several October dates including Pitchfork Festival and St. Vincent’s highly-anticipated October 12 stop at Radio City Music Hall.