Band To Watch

Artist To Watch: John Hancock

Our first introduction to John Hancock came via his jammy, dystopian art-rock group Empirical Mile, born in the bowels of the University of Miami School Of Music and gone as quickly as the buzz they had built. It happens. Next, John spearheaded the poorly-named (but entirely awesome) Awesome New Republic, a collective whose album ANR So Far — a laptop-laced mix of guitar rock, soul, and party-pop — was a Stereofave in ’05 (and won some others, too).

Things have been queit for ANR since –members moving and marrying — but John’s been busy working on his solo debut Part Mongolian ever since. He’s a one man operation now — playing every part, tracking every vocal, tweaking each knob — and he’s still an incorrigible genre hopper. Makes sense, since he considers Prince his biggest influence in both spirit and, sometimes, sound. Aside from the last half of standout “Mama Don’t Break,” Part Mongolian is less purple than his Awesome New past — toying with Delta blues (“Dig This”), Caribbean beats (“Watering Hole”), and Kevin Barnes styled glam dance (“Part Italian”) — but watching him try on fresh faces on each track is addictive, if not maddening. In terms of potential, there’s no limit with this kid. Best to keep your eye on him. And at 25, he’s got time. “I’m Your Man” is our fave from the new, with JH weaving his soulful falsetto, reverbed keys, and studio trickery into a sweet little love letter. Perfect for Valentine’s Day.

John Hancock – “I’m Your Man” (MP3)

And here’s a taste of ANR:

Awesome New Republic – “Wheels, No Engines” (MP3)

Part Mongolian is out today on Snuggle Down Productions.