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Jack O' The Clock: All My Friends

Jack O' The Clock are an American outfit based out of Oakland, California. Band members include Damon Waitkus (voice, guitar, hammer dulcimer, etc), Emily Packard (violins, psaltery, melodica, etc), Kate McLoughlin (bassoon, voice, flute), Jason Hoopes (bass, voice, piano) and Jordan Glenn (drums, percussion, accordion). There are many other instruments listed in the credits too numerous to mention. It is the variety of instruments used that help to make All My Friends such a unique album. This is one of those albums that is hard to pigeonhole. I hear folk, pop, ethnic sounds all with an avant-garde/experimental twist. Its progressive yet quite accessible. Often the arrangements are sparse but highly imaginative and the song craft is excellent. Perhaps what makes this album so enjoyable for me are Waitkus's lead vocals. He has an endearing voice and although it is not exceptional it is very pleasing to the ears.

The first track "All My Friends Are Dead" starts with those words amidst quiet instrumentation. The singing is almost fragile, virtually breaking apart, delivered in a half talking/singing style that does not often work but does so here. Bassoon, glockenspiel, strings and other instruments serve up an element of whimsy adding to the song's folk-like charm. "The Academy" is another whimsical track with gentle instrumentation almost like leaves fluttering on the breeze. It's a short tune leading directly to "A Lot Of People Are Dead Wrong Most Of The Time". It is a little more upbeat with a cool fuzzed out guitar solo amidst the quirkiness and reminded me a little of what XTC was doing in the 80's. The strange "The Pilot" is filled with percussive sounds and has a much sparser arrangement digging deeper into the avant-garde. Unusual instruments like corrugated plastic tubes and a heating grate are used adding to its unique flavour. The vocals here subtly remind me of Jon Anderson and really help flesh out the sound. Another highlight is the ethnic flavoured "Half Searching, Half There" featuring the guzheng (a Chinese plucking instrument) and delicate acoustic guitar. It is a mellow track with a nice flow and soothing arrangement.

All My Friends is a highly unusual album with a quirky nature that only adds to its charm. An accessible avant-garde album; who would of thought? If you are searching for something a little outside the box Jack O' The Clock may just be the band for you. Recommended!

Track Listing:
1. All My Friends Are Dead
2. The Academy
3. A Lot Of People Are Dead Wrong Most Of The Time
4. The Pilot
5. Deepwater Turbines Turning
6. Half Searching, Half There
7. Saturday Afternoon On The Median
8. Disaster
9. Analemma
10. What To Do In Our Neighborhood 1
11. What To Do In Our Neighborhood 2
12. Old Friend In A Hole
13. All My Friends Are In My Head

Added: September 5th 2013
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 3725
Language: english

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