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(54:15, ‘Jack O' The Clock’)
TRACK LIST: 1. All My Friends Are Dead 8:04 2. The Academy 1:26 3. A Lot of People Are Dead Wrong Most of the Time 5:05 4. The Pilot 3:44 5. Deepwater Turbines Turning 1:28 6. Half Searching Half There 3:58 7. Saturday Afternoon on the Median 3:04 8. Disaster 2:34 9. Analemma 2:43 10. What to Do in Our Neighborhood-1 4:20 11. What to Do in Our Neighborhood-2 1:27 12. Old Friend In a Hole 13:20 13. All My Friends Are in My Head 3:02 LINEUP: Damon Waitkus – vocals; banjo, guitars; flute; harp; pianos; percussion Emily Packard – psaltery; viola, violin, melodica Jordan Glenn – drums, mallets; accordion Kate McLoughlin – bassoon; vocals; flute Jason Hoopes – bass; vocals With: Art Elliot – organ Cory Wright – clarinet Jonathan Russell – clarinet Ivor Holloway – saxophone Darren Johnston – trumpet Andrew Strain – trombone Dave McNally – piano Nicci Reisnour – harp Neil Hodge – drums
Prolusion. The US band JACK O' THE CLOCK surfaced back in 2008 with their debut album "Rare Weather". Since then this five men and women strong ensemble have established themselves as a fairly active live unit, and two additional studio productions have seen the light of day as well. "All My Friends" is the most recent of these, and was self released by the band in 2013.
Analysis. Jack O' The Clock is one of those bands that are downright impossible to pigeonhole into any well defined box. In general you can describe them as a folk music band I guess, or at least folk music inspired ensemble, very much depending on how you define folk music and just where the borderline is between folk on one hand and avant-garde music on the other. In addition there are details from both jazz and chamber music to take into consideration, and even a nice little touch of indie rock somewhere in here. Take a song like A Lot of People Are Dead Wrong Most of the Time for instance. There are chamber music and chamber rock elements in here, jazz-oriented details alongside a Beatles-esque sound reminding ever so slightly of ‘Eleanor Rigby’, with some avant-tinged details appearing here and there. The following composition The Pilot opens up sounding much more like a toy music creation, but concludes in a manner closer to Kate Bush and, again, The Beatles. Which again is followed by Deepwater Turbines Turning, a cold, ambient oriented creation with light toned eerie, ghostly details ebbing out with dampened, dark rhythm effects much like an engine sound as it would sound like under water. This is a fairly different trio of songs, but it doesn’t represent any high point as far as diversity is concerned. Folk music details are the common denominator, by way of rhythms, flute or banjo, and are elements that appear in the above mentioned compositions as well as elsewhere. But the general context and framework of the material continues being fairly diversified. Continuing onwards Half Searching Half There is a pastoral affair with plucked instrumental details that concludes with the addition of a symphonic oriented, smooth backdrop, while Saturday Afternoon on the Median comes across as a REM inspired affair, liberally flavored with an avant-oriented reeds and violin arrangement. Later on What to Do in Our Neighborhood alternates folk music elements with jazz in a subtly weird manner, at least to my ears, while the stunningly beautiful Old Friend in a Hole reminds me of early Bendik Hofseth in mood and atmosphere, although in expression this is a sparsely arranged affair utilizing piano details, voice effects and static noise to craft haunting delicate moods, with some instances of tighter arranged, more energetic inserts to maintain tension and interest in this 13 minutes long, stunningly haunting construction.
Conclusion. Jack O' The Clock appears to be a band well worth seeking out if you enjoy a band that manages to create innovative music with something of a foundation in folk music. The end result has strong ties to traditional folk music in general and arguably a US oriented one in particular, liberally flavored with occasional avant-oriented sensibilities, jazz inspired details and some instances of sequences, arrangements and themes with somewhat closer ties to chamber music. Stunningly beautiful at best and always interesting on some level, this disc should be a nice find to those with a liberal taste for innovative music in general and folk inspired varieties of that nature in particular.
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