“Jim Fusco – Those Around Us”
Connecticut native, Jim Fusco delivers his eleventh album Those Around Us for our listening pleasure. Fusco cites bands like The Beach Boys, The Beatles and The Monkees as influences. It is easy to hear how these bands have helped to shape his songwriting. Jim’s music has a distinct 60s pop vibe.
While it is easy to hear the influence of these classic artists in Jim’s music, particularly in the harmonies, the sound is all his own. What he does share with these artists is the ability to craft a pop tune that sticks with the listener, be it an upbeat, get your feet moving song or a slow, cuddle up with someone you love, ballad.
On the ballad front, there’s “Helpless” which is like a mash-up of the Bacharach and David lounge sound with Beach Boys harmonies. Those Beach Boys harmonies figure in greatly on this album. If you are going to draw from a sound of the 60s, you can’t go wrong with that. The album’s closing track “How Are You Feeling Tonight?” really has that signature Beach Boys sound, so much so, that you might think you are listening to them.
Fun pop songs are what Jim does best. Take “Anything For Love,” it has a great guitar riff and again, harmonies. This song brings back the innocence that is lacking in most pop music. “Follow You Home” is another one. These three and a half minute songs are reminders of how fun music can be.
Jim’s music is all about harmony. It is what sets his songs apart from the rest. It is what draws the listener in.
You can call Jim’s music power pop or you can call it retro pop. The influence and sound of the 60s bands puts his music in both subgenres, but why classify? What you have with Jim’s music is timeless pop and we can always use more of that. Songs like “Don’t Give Up” and “In Your Head” sound like classics already.
Jim is a versatile songwriter, but even more than that, he’s a versatile and talented musician, playing all the instruments on most songs, with the exception of drums on “Opportunities,” “Anything For Love” and “In Your Head,” which are handled by his brother, Mike Fusco and the hand claps on “Choose Your Words (Carefully)” are done by his wife, Becky. That’s pretty impressive and considering Those Around Us has as much polish, if not more, than most albums you’ll hear on the radio. “Look Around” features Jim playing a lap steel guitar, a new instrument to add to his unique sound. This album also features a Wurlitzer 200A electric piano. That’s not an instrument you hear much about these days. But it is things like this that make the songs come to life.
Listening to Those Around Us is refreshing. It is pop music that is fun, fresh and exciting. Jim Fusco has a day job, but you’ll want him to quit it after listening to Those Around Us, because you’ll want him to concentrate on getting another album out ASAP, not that doing that is a problem for him, this is his eleventh full length!
You may not have heard of Jim Fusco before listening to Those Around Us but after you have, you’ll want to listen to him more and more. Thankfully, he’s put out an album a year, since 2001 with an exception of his most recent release. There’s a little over 2 years between Halfway There and Those Around Us. Fans will surely agree, two years is too long to wait between albums. But don’t worry about waiting now, put Those Around Us in your CD player or iPod and crank the volume (well maybe not in your iPod) and enjoy twelve finely crafted pop songs. This is music to make your ears happy!
Rating: 10/10 stars
“Those Around Us” Review
By Jeff Copperthite, 2012
As one of many eager fans of Jim Fusco (and as a good friend), I was thrilled as always to hear that he was releasing a new album. I have been among the people that are privileged enough to have heard the evolution of Jim’s work – from Walkin’ in the Dark to Halfway There. He went from using a MIDI program to track his music to dedicating space in his own home strictly for the incredible collection of instruments, microphones, recorders, drum sets, and of course his guitars.
So naturally when his CD release party came about for Those Around Us, I was the fifth person to purchase the CD. I was hoping for a limited edition numbering on it, but that’s ok. I’ll just get it from his next album Three Quarters There.
I don’t write reviews often, but I’m required to use a set up. Now for the album review.
Those Around Us is an album that continues to make me say “How does Jim top himself?” Every time Jim comes out with another collection of his work and recording, he manages to raise his own level in such a stunning way. Jim has really pulled off an incredible collection of songs that showcase his songwriting ability, sound engineering, and instrumentation. I always joke with Jim when I listen to a new album “How did you get all those guys to sound like you?”
The starting track is called “Run My Way” and starts off with a soft opening acoustic guitar. Then in kicks the lead guitar riff, followed by a drum fill. The album kicks off with this great song with a super catchy chorus. Jim manages to work in the right effect at all parts of the song – whether it be the phased electric during the verse, or the stereo panned vocal track. The song even tosses in a whammy bar. The outro to the song is like the intro – gradually reducing the instrumentation until it’s just the acoustic guitar. It is a great opening track – something Jim has a knack for.
The next song “Choose Your Words (carefully)” is another equally strong track. Jim is putting more effort into making his guitar sound stand out, yet work perfectly in the background of his songs. In this song, everything blends so well. The chorus of the song stands out a bit more than the rest of the song – not a flaw by any means. Just like the previous track, very catchy. I like how the pre-chorus lead guitar changes ever so slightly to lead perfectly into the “You say those words…” line.
“Don’t Give Up” is an interesting track because Jim has made the song sound full, but there are some typical elements missing – again, not a flaw. Jim uses only one vocal track for this song, and throws in some delayed vocals during the verse. The chorus is once again quite catchy. One minor blip is during the instrument break – the song seems to lose its drive. The chorus in the song is another catchy one as well. The line “Don’t stop don’t ever give up on me girl” are complemented nicely by the instrumentation. The 12-string guitar also stands out in this song.
Jim’s first fast track is “Opportunities”. This song reminds me of another song of his called “Only a Dream” during its chorus. The bass in this song really pops to me (as a bassist). Jim effectively displays his vocal prowess in this song in my opinion. He mixes oohs in during the chorus, and double tracks his vocals during most of the song. The instrument break is absolutely incredible in this song. It really should be considered a vocal break as it gradually builds to the end. A really terrific song in the clean-up spot.
“Good Enough” is the next song. Jim succeeds in having the music blend perfectly with his vocals. The builds leading into the chorus are spot on. He lets his voice do most of the work in this song. The guitar solo I feel is very strong in this song.
Jim typically does not do very many down tempo songs in his albums. “Chameleon” is very unique in Jim’s repertoire. The song works so well that it makes me wonder why he hasn’t written other songs in a similar vein. The xylophone and electric piano make a very solid chorus riff and build into the nice backing vocals. I love the electric guitar work in this song as well – the offbeat strumming that Jim does make the song work quite well. The fade out seems a bit quick on the song, however. I think it would’ve benefitted from a good 15-20 seconds in that department.
I think my 2nd favorite song in the album is the next track “Look Around”. I almost don’t want to write too much about this song. The vocals work so superbly at all points, the bass punches, the guitar work is incredible, and the percussion pushes the song forward. Jim manages to work in a guitar slide to a few tracks – including the guitar solo. This song is so impressive – a clear standout.
“Anything for Love” is another “fast” song. I am a big fan of the bass line of this song. Jim’s vocal work stands out in this song. The pitch range in the chorus may sound a bit odd at first, but it catches on really quick. This one you’ll find yourself singing in the car. The guitars work solidly in the background, but given the vocals, they seem like they’re there simply to let Jim know what notes belong to the backing vocals. They work very well in the song. Again, the bass line makes a great hook.
“Helpless” is my favorite song lyric-wise. As a fellow married man, I share the feeling of the song. Jim’s vocal work is at it again making beautiful harmonies during the chorus and echoes. The guitar tracks are wonderfully played – even though at times there’s a lot going on, it works very well.
“In Your Head” is the third “fast” song on the album. The chorus is catchy and the instrumentation drives the song very well. In the interlude after the 2nd chorus, there is something about the vocals that seems out of place to me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it is after the line “up front with me”. The song’s ending is great, but the way it ends makes it seem like there should be more. It’s probably the music theorist in me. It actually works as a great way to lead in the next song, however.
“Follow You Home” is the next song on the album. This song reminds me most of “classic” Jim – a driven quarter note piano track that is constant in the entire song. His vocal work is great. I absolutely love the chorus and the interlude he places in the chorus. The guitar in the background complements the song quite well.
My favorite song on the album – as has been the case for the last four albums – is again the last track. Again, everything just works together so well. Jim’s multitracked lyrics are perfect, as is the electric keyboard that reminds me so much of The Doobie Brothers. The distorted guitar lead is another great compliment. I think the catchy outro is what makes the song for me. Having everything come together and lead the album out just ends the album on such a high note. This you’ll find yourself singing along to even on the first listen.
To summarize, Those Around Us is an incredible work by Jim Fusco. How he continues to top himself is an attestation to his ability to improve his own standards and methods. What amazes me continually is how I say “Wow this album is the best I’ve heard” and then the next one is even better. Jim has succeeded in what he does best – creating a great rock album that sounds great at any volume with enough hooks and catches to keep you listening to the entire album over and over again. Jim has really outperformed himself. You will not be disappointed in this album.
“Masters of the Internet”
By Jesse J. Stanley, Record-Journal.com Newspaper, 2008
Meriden – Local band Masters of the Universe is branching out into another universe lately – the Internet – with an interesting concept they’ve named Laptop Sessions.
Chris Moore, 23, of Meriden; Jim Fusco, 24, of Meriden; Jeff Copperthite, 27, of Fairfield; and Mike Fusco, 22, of Wallingford have been making music together for two years. This venture onto the web is something none of them have seen anyone else do to such a level.
“It’s a mix between hobby and fun,” said Chris Moore, band member. “It is a melding between our original music and covers everyone knows.”
“The concept is pretty simple. Each member of the band will record and post a cover song onto the site once every day. Their goal is to post one song per day for the entire year.
“We’re not going to miss a day, God help us,” said Jim Fusco, band member. “We made a commitment to ourselves more than anything.”
“There have been a few close calls, though,” Fusco said. “Every time we get a little frustrated, we say, ‘whose idea was this?”
Usually after that, the band shoots Moore a few dirty looks; but they have managed not to miss a post.
The exposure that Laptop Sessions has brought it has been very positive for the band.
“In total, we have more than 500 subscribers between us,” Fusco said. “They get updates every time we post something.”
The band members’ sessions have resulted in thousands of YouTube views every day, more traffic to their Web site, and an interest in their original music, as well.
“We like to think that if they like the music we like, that they’ll also like the kind of music we play on our own, too,” Fusco said.
“We’ve noticed that people are also commenting on our original works we are posting, too,” Moore said. “It is always a huge joy to hear a person comment on a song I’ve written.”
One piece of recognition was a big deal to Fusco.
“Brian Wilson, of the Beach Boys, has a permanent link on his official Web site to my cover of one of his songs,” Fusco said. “For me that was huge.”
They’ve also been coming up on Internet searches more frequently.
“I did a search the other day for a cover song and we came up as the first link in that search,” Fusco said. “It is exciting to see all this work come to fruition.”
It is also a way to practice their skills as musicians.
“We have grown as musicians as a result,” Moore said. “It is good for honing my skill.”
“We used to only play originals, but Laptop Sessions has given us more than 100 new songs we can play,” Fusco said.
With posting a new cover every day for an entire year, one might think the band might run out of material to cover.
“There’s no end in sight,” Fusco said. “My iTunes collection has more than 11,000 songs in it; we are huge music fans and there are a lot of choices.”
Already they have covered music from more than 50 bands.
All of this work they do from the comfort of their own home – or at least, the comfort of Fusco’s own home – with a recording studio in Fusco’s basement in Meriden.
“We have a recording studio set up with all the trappings of an amateur professional studio,” Moore said. “What we really love doing is making music.”
They are hoping to help other local musicians have a recording space in the future.
Masters of the Universe has played at the main stage of the Webster and locally at George’s II and Testa’s. You can tune in every day for a new update at www.LaptopSessions.com.
“People can go there every day and see something new,” Fusco said.
Jim Fusco: “What About Today?”
By Karla Ash, TheWigFitsAllHeads.com
There is a dry sense of humor at work here, at least judging from the title. Singer/songwriter Jim Fusco (http://www.jimfusco.com) is asking about the present time when, in fact, he is living in the past. The strange part is that Fusco wasn’t even born yet in the time period that he’s nostalgic about. Back in the ’80s it was common for alternative rockers to revive certain sounds from the ’60s. Considering that was their childhood, it made sense. Fusco defies logic. How can a 21-year-old kid write and record an LP that sounds like 1967? No, there’s no studio trickery involved, at least that which is apparent. Fusco’s voice – clear as water, melodic, and sad and dreamy as Brian Wilson’s – is a ghost from the past.
The songs feature the ringing guitars from the Summer of Love and calming hippie harmonies although minus the clichés that would horribly date this material. “Another Backwards Day” wouldn’t sound out of place on an oldies radio station. In fact, just about every track on this album could be played on KZOK or KBSG without anybody noticing they were from 2005. However, Fusco isn’t a Xerox machine for baby boomers; the sincerity is revealed in his vocals and the good-natured sentiments of his lyrics.
Review of “What About Today?”
By Adam Harrington, WhisperinandHollerin.com
Somebody check this man’s I.D.
That a 21-year-old singer/songwriter can so accurately recapture the summer breeze gentle guitar pop of the late ’60s, without parody or irony, is downright bizarre. Perhaps Jim Fusco (http://www.jimfusco.com) is the reincarnation of a forgotten rock star. Or maybe he’s lying, using a fake bio and Photoshop-tweaked pictures.
But does it really matter? After all, we should be happy enough that somebody remembers how good the music of that time period was, giving it the proper respect and tender loving care. “What About Today” is track after track of hummable ’60s golden lights, from the wah-wah psychedelia of “Another Backwards Day” (even the title is so ’60s) to the Beach Boys-ish harmonies of “Sometimes.”
Fusco must’ve inherited an older parent or relative’s record collection and discovered the sense of wonder and joy that the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Zombies, the Beatles, and the Moody Blues brought to an entire generation. Every song is sung with affection and good vibrations.
Oddly enough, the best track here actually reminds one of the ’70s and not the ’60s. The charming, melancholy “What Left to Do?” is gorgeous, reminiscent of Bread , America , and Classics IV.
Fusco is a man out of time – or is he? Whether or not Fusco is actually 21 has yet to be believed.
It’s a One-Man Show for Jim Fusco- 2005
By Ralph Hohman, Record-Journal staff
WALLINGFORD — These days, work is all about play for Jim Fusco. His part-time job doing computer work for a local real estate agent is fun, he says. But more than that, it’s a way to get money for instruments and recording equipment, with a little left over for lunch with his girlfriend at Burger King.
“What else am I gonna spend it on?” he says from the basement of his family’s home.
The place is his studio, where Fusco makes CDs and videos, his latest titled “What About Today?” It mixes a little of both in an enhanced CD format, with the video playable on computer. Aside from buying a 24-track digital machine on which he recorded the album, Fusco says he put $1,500 into pumping out 1,000 discs through a Virginia company called Oasis CD Manufacturing. As part of the deal, “What About Today?” is distributed through Internet outlets like Amazon.com and Borders.com.
“I designed the cover and the back, and the disc art — which took forever — sent them everything, and they put everything together,” Fusco says.
The result is a package that looks more professional than do-it-yourself, PC-copied CDs (with photographs taken in Fusco’s yard and at West Haven Beach), down to the real, functional barcode.
At 21, and heading into his senior year as a video production major at Southern Connecticut State University, Fusco (online at www.jimfusco.com) has made six CDs, some of them in musical partnership with his friend, Chris Moore. Last Year, Fusco compiled videos from the music of his first five albums into a DVD called “The Best of Jim Fusco: Volume One.”
“He puts an incredible amount of effort into it,” Moore says.
For “What About Today?” Fusco did just about everything himself ( Moore co-wrote one song and contributes harmonica work). Fusco has an array of acoustic and electric guitars, basses, drums, keyboards, ukuleles and a mandolin.
“If it’s needed in the song, I’ll find a way to learn how to play it,” he says.
For the two videos on “What About Today?” Fusco used a single camera, playing through each song three times, repositioning the camera with each take. Editing makes it look like there were three cameras on the shoot.For the album’s 13 songs, Fusco laid down his own drum tracks first, followed by electric guitar, bass, acoustic guitar before the vocals, on which he often performs multiple harmonies with himself.
“He’s a very good musician,” says Moore, who shares the Web site with Fusco at www.fusco-moore.com. “His strength has always been vocals, but more and more, especially on electric guitar … it’s becoming more of his own style.”
When it comes to writing, Moore says of Fusco, “Everything in his life, he interprets into songs.”
“What About Today?” is a flowing album, not a collection of disjointed singles, something that goes back to Fusco’s influences — bands such as the Beach Boys and the Beatles. He’s also old-school (relatively at least), preferring the feel of the 24-channel mixer over computer recording, and CDs over downloads, the way his parents’ generations clung to LPs.
His throwback style also presents some marketing problems. Fusco says he’d love to play out more, and he bought a portable public address system that would do the job in a coffeehouse setting. But while he’s of legal drinking age, he says finding a bar gig is hard to do. A lot of places want rock ‘n’ roll cover bands, not necessarily softer rock originals like Fusco’s.
“I’ve done as much as I can by myself now,” he says. “I need a manager.”
A Review of “That’s All…” by customer, Pete S.
“That’s All Jim” really registered with me big time.
I thought there were some jewels on the folk CD [“That’s All Folks”] and one of my favorites was “Your Loving Model”. Beautiful vocals and nice backing track. I only wish it was longer. I found myself wanting to hear more when it was winding down. Very sweet! I also liked “On Stable Ground”. Great composition and execution. I’m always amazed when an artist plays all of the instruments and does every vocal. That’s pretty impressive! “Hole In My Wall” is another solid winner and I think it’s interesting how you’re able to vary the delivery of your vocals to suit the particular song. Jeez, I wish I could sing!
As for “That’s All Jim”, I got an entirely different feeling from it. Very polished and “developed”. The songs showed real maturity in their lyrics and the compositions were quite good. The complexity of the music was quite apparent and several of the songs jumped out at me.
Easily my favorite was “Happy Tears” but this should be no surprise coming from a die hard Brian Wilson/Beach Boys fan (Have you ever considered covering any of the Beach Boys work? I’d love to hear the results!). [Editor’s note: Yes, Jim has done a version of “Don’t Worry Baby” in the past] I LOVE lush, layered vocals and you really hit a sweet spot with this performance. I could listen to that one over and over again. Just beautiful! The same goes for “To The Men”, which sounded like an instant classic to me. What a fabulously written piece, top to bottom. You’ve demonstrated an acute sense of arranging with those great backing vocals and, once again, extreme versatility by playing all of the instruments. I’m assuming “That’s All Jim” is your latest effort and the growth in your creating and performing is evident. “Looking To You” is yet another great combination of all elements of a good song. Meaningful lyrics, sweet melody, and an on target performance.
I’m impressed with your ability to express yourself in different ways. “That’s All Jim” conveys your ideas and feelings with considerable variety and that makes it an appealing listen. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t help but believe you’re headed for great things.
Out There, Jim Fusco and Chris Moore- 2003
By Ralph Hohman, The Record-Journal
Wouldn’t it be nice: Jim Fusco, the Beatles and Beach Boys fan, and Chris Moore, who leans toward Bob Dylan, are both 19-year-old college students dutifully preparing for the real world.
Fusco studies video production at Southern Connecticut State University and can see himself one day at ESPN. Moore is working toward an English degree at Central Connecticut State University, and is considering a career as college professor.
Neither would mind if a music career got in the way of all that.
They’ve been buddies since eighth grade. In recent years they’ve gotten serious about producing and marketing their own work. The hub of their operation is in the nicely finished basement of Fusco’s family home in Wallingford, well-appointed with musical instruments and recording equipment.
Media moguls: Fusco, who also has a radio show Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Southern’s WSIN (1590 AM), says his sound engineering skills are self-taught.
“I’ve always had a knack for computers.”
“And I just mimic him,” adds Moore.
Fusco says he recorded his first album in 2001, and has done five since. His music is smooth, mostly acoustic folk/rock, played with Moore and with Fusco’s girlfriend, Becky Daly, and sometimes with Fusco’s kid brother, Mike.
A few weeks ago they played out for the first time, at a church open-mike night.
“We didn’t know how we’d be received, because there were harder bands there,” says Moore. But they say they got a good reception, and plan to try again.
Money matters: Their music (performed mostly by Jim) is on sale through www.jimfusco.com.
Fusco is also working on a book, “based on the type of people Chris and I are, but in a much different setting.”
Moore’s hand-assembled book is $9.95 online; Fusco’s double CD, “That’s All Folks & That’s All Jim,” goes for $7.95.
The two do all the work. Moore’s part-time job at Staples puts him near a source of raw materials. Fusco works weekends at Cheshire Video, where he says he learned to shrink wrap his CDs. They manage their own Web sites.
Costs them about $5.50 for a disc, plus what they pay PayPal, Fusco says. He makes about 25 discs at a time, and says he’s sold about 20 copies of the new album.
“And we give free shipping, so really online we’re not making anything.”
That makes taxes simple, Moore says.
“We finally figured out if we don’t make any profit, it’s not gonna be an issue.”
Bang on the drum all day: Fusco has been a musician near as long as he can remember.
“When I was little, I didn’t listen to kids’ songs,” he says. “They started me right off with the Beatles and the Moody Blues and the Monkees.”
He began playing pots-and-pans drums, then moved on to guitar, keyboards and bass. Moore started playing three years ago — keyboards, guitar and harmonica. Lyrics have been his primary contribution.
Old school: With their CDs and Web sites and an upcoming music DVD, Fusco and Moore indulge their old-rock fixation with as many CDs as they can afford. They’re late coming to music downloading and MP3s.
“We’re packaging guys,” Fusco says. “We love liner notes.”
— Ralph Hohman