I didn't hear about last night's tragedy outside the Mohawk until after I was home and ready for bed. For as grand a celebration as the Buffalo Lounge was yesterday, the news put a serious damper on the day's events — and it will surely do the same for every day after.
This is my first South by Southwest, so some rookie mistakes are to be expected on Day 1. There were a few instances, however, in which I definitely should have known better. Like, you know, sunscreen.
Naming your band Jackie-O Motherfucker is the titling equivalent of
purchasing a license to record whatever the hell music you want, as far
as I and the Americana-experimentin’ Portland indie collective are
They’re kindred spirits to Waka Flocka Flame in that sense. And that sense only.
But enough teasing about Jackie-O’s name. Let’s tease them for recording a patience-trying album.
“Earth Sound System” contains a pair of tracks — one exactly seven minutes and eight seconds in length, and one sitting right at nine and a half — that might not even be music. They’re titled “Raga Joining” and “Raga Separating,” respectively, and are both experimental droners that don’t sound anything like … well, anything, really. They sound like what your typical layperson probably thought the inside of computers sounded like in 1987: lots of offbeat clicks and whirrs, and percussion instruments that bands often think are really funny.
The album marks a pretty stark difference from 1995 when the collective — it’s hard to call them a band when they’ve had more than 40 members over the years, only one of them constant — started out as a freeform jazz outfit. Their sound’s pretty clearly evolved into a rustic, psych-folk-type thing. Lots of finger-picking on the guitar that nicely comfits around Tom Greenwood’s dreary singing, which is basically an earthier, less-British take on Jason Pierce of Spiritualized. It’s lovely and comforting, like a big, sloppy St. Bernard licking at your face.
With this formula, “In the Willows” and “Dedication” both redeem the album’s title, but not “Earth Sound System” as a whole. It’s too spaced-out to be saved. —Matt Carney