By Patrick Perkins
Nomad is the debut album from the band Jumpmonk, whose members include Coby Sandholtz (drums), Jens Watts (bass), Madison Schefer (vocals), Joseph Sandhotlz (keyboard/trumpet), and Samuel Handley (guitar). The band was created in 2016, and they played live shows up until 2018, at which point they took a hiatus to focus on finishing and releasing Nomad. The hiatus turned into hibernation as the COVID-19 pandemic prevented them from playing live shows after the record was released. Thankfully, they have started playing live again in 2022.
Nomad starts off with the brief track “Launch,” which sets the stage for the rest of the album. This song tells the listener, “strap yourself in, you’re about to embark on a journey through the luscious soundscape of Nomad.” Luscious indeed. Nomad is a ripe peach containing groovy, syncopated drum patterns and succulent, hypnotic synth and piano melodies. The soulful, comforting guitars and trumpets are the whip cream atop the peach, and Madison Schefer’s beautiful voice is the cherry on top. And yet there are still more sonic delights to be found tucked nicely into the mix of each song. I’ve listened to this album 10 times now and I’m still finding things I didn’t hear on the previous listen. I find myself continuously revisiting the album, and the new sounds I hear each time make it all the more worthwhile.
My favorite track off of Nomad has to be “Flutter in the Wind.” The mid-tempo, staccato piano that begins the track lays the rhythmic groundwork to allow room for the trumpet to “spread its wings,” if you will. The trumpet and Schefer’s singing are connected through a series of playful, lighthearted calls and responses. The two play off each other and begin building up energy, which culminates in a mean trumpet solo in the middle of the track. There are a few times throughout this song where I can’t help but make a “this shiz is friggin crazy” face.
Jumpmonk put “Forgotten Dreams” – another favorite of mine – next in the tracklist. It’s a cooldown track after the thrill ride that is “Flutter in the Wind.” This track begins with a soothing piano melody that is eventually layered with a guitar and Schefer’s vocals, and then suddenly bursts into a full on groove with a sick guitar lick. Then a woody flute comes in to serenade your ears. It is truly a joy to hear how all the instruments work together on this one. There are so many great tracks on this project, but the aforementioned tracks are my two favorites.
As far as the music itself goes, I’m at a loss trying to find anything to criticize. The mixes on each song sound great, Madison Schefer’s vocals never waver or have an iffy moment, and I love the variety of sounds and grooves that are brought to each song that give Jumpmonk a unique sound. I love the tracklisting, and the album art is intriguing. The one suggestion I have is for the band to generate additional content for their fans. I didn’t find any music videos online for any of the songs on Nomad. Maybe make a few music videos, even if it’s just a song being performed live. I enjoyed this album so much, I really wanted to engage with it in new ways, and there wasn’t anything else to explore.
In conclusion, Nomad is an excellent debut album from Jumpmonk. It’s clear that a lot of time, effort, and love went into making this album. What was most impressive to me about Nomad was that it was so uniquely Jumpmonk. It seems that upon their first collection of songs, they already have an identity and their own unique sound. It’s astounding how incredibly talented everyone in this band is and how well they work together. A record label needs to sign these guys immediately. I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.
Make sure to follow Jumpmonk on Instagram and check out “Flutter in the Wind” below!