Urgent memo to the A&R department at Skinny Dog Limited: WHERE THE FUCK DO YOU FIND THESE PEOPLE?
Scratch that, actually; I’m not certain I wish to know. Nonetheless, I’ve got a few tangential musings of my own considering this latest JACKIEO album:
1. JACKIEO must be one of those bands that you’ve “just gotta see live,” and mine is only to surmise that someone in a position of authority at Skinny Dog Limited did indeed attend one of these epochal performances, thus explaining JACKIEO’s presence on a record label and subsequently why I’ve spent the past several days polluting my ears with this pile of musical animal droppings. I mean, it has to be, right? How else do you presume to explain the fact that a record as bound-for-the-dumpster as Between Worlds of Whores and Gods was made on the luxury of label dollars whilst a group like The Rockaissance – a duo of college girls who wear Medieval costumes and perform hip-hop hits as arranged for guitar and recorder – remain largely unknown outside of an audience of a few fortunate locals? Don’t get me wrong – a critic learns fast that talent has precisely nothing to do with who does and doesn’t get to make records, but holy bottom of the barrel, Batman, must our standards be in such a constant state of descent?
2. My best friend at age fourteen was a blossoming metal-head with a magnetic attraction to anything with lumbering sludge guitars, embarrassingly awful lyrics, and vocals that epitomized feigned rage and pent up rock-with-your-cock-out masculinity. One of his most prized possessions was a copy of Motley Crue’s self-titled album from 1994, the one where Vince Neil was absent, probably in drug rehab or something, and in his place was some third string replacement singer against whose talents “Kickstart My Heart” might as well have been Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” He obtained this jewel in a Circuit City discount bin in which all CDs cost $3.99 and have little notches on the spine to denote that they’ve been stagnant units for several years and are now no longer permitted to share shelf space with CDs that people are actually buying. Often, my friend played this disc while we were sitting on his porch, trying to look cool for the neighbour girl; equally as often, another of the neighbors would call and request that he changed CDs. It wasn’t a request to turn the music down, mind you, it was honest-to-god quality control; as the guy who lived next door once said, “I don’t care if you play your music loud, just don’t play that ‘Hooligan’s Holiday’ song anymore. Ever.”
All things considered, JACKIEO’s Between Worlds of Whores and Gods is almost as good as that Motley Crue album.
3. I like to laugh. In that regard, JACKIEO are the best new band of 2006. In their press letter, they refer to themselves as – get this – a “PUNKTRASHBLOOZECOLLECTIVE.” The same press kit also asserts that, “their quest [for the source of true rock and roll enlightenment] led to the realization that the forces of capitalism, greed, authority, and misogyny may be effectively challenged by the no chord discordance and power of the electric guitar.” I mean, coming from someone over the age of fifteen, that’s funny, right?
4. When I was a wee tot growing up in suburban Illinois, there was a boy in our neighborhood named David Johnson who used to call himself “Blood Man” and drive crossed wooden stakes into his front lawn, so as to keep vampires at a safe distance. My mother discouraged my brothers and me from playing with this boy. Had I not known better, I might have assumed that young Blood Man had grown up to become a member of this band. Knowing otherwise, I’ll settle for a guess that he’s probably just a die-hard fan.
5. Oh yeah, the music. Well, there isn’t much to say about it, really. Though I am dreadfully against the use of those unequivocally dull x-artist-meets-y-artist comparisons, alls I can really submit in regards to singer Jackson Starfield is that he sounds like an early Nick Cave impersonator if said early Nick Cave impersonator occasionally took some time out to do Cookie Monster impressions. His “singing” consists primarily of a lot of overly emotive yelling, growling, and dramatic spoken/shouted monologues that conjure images of Jim Morrison in his more I-am-the-Lizard-King! moments, moments which occur terribly unfortunately at moments during which the rest of the band has chosen to remain silent. From what of them are understandable, the lyrics are your standard PUNKTRASHBLOOZECOLLECTIVE fare, manufactured fright-night theatrics with possible S&M tendencies, song titles like “Plastic Black Jesus” and “Hellzapoppin!” – to say nothing of the album title itself. The guitars, played by Starfield himself and someone who refers to himself simply as No Hero (sweet name, dude, totally anti-establishment!), sound like silverware stuck in a garbage disposal.
6. JACKIEO are, let’s hope, a joke. They may not be a very good one, but at least an attempt at parody is a better mission statement than the one affixed in their press kit, which is to “vent a contemptuous spew of hatred, for all those silly little Indie Boys, who get ritually shafted every second of every minute of every hour by The Industry.” Yes, the industry – in capital letters, no less. We’ll hope, for all of our benefits, hating the industry though they do, JACKIEO manages to fly forever under its radar.