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