Jack O' The Clock: Repetitions of the Old City - I
You might not have heard of the San Francisco Bay area band Jack O' The Clock which would be a shame since they are an outstanding band. They released their first album Rare Weather in 2008 and I became familiar with the band upon hearing their last effort All My Friends in 2013.
In the band are:
Damon Waitkus (vocals, guitars, hammer dulcimer, guzheng, flute, piano, pianet,
mandolin, percussion, wine glasses)
Emily Packard (violins)
Kate McLoughlin (bassoon, vocals, flute)
Jason Hoopes (bass, vocals, zither)
Jordan Glenn (drums, percussion, marimba, vibraphone)
This is a band that is certainly hard to classify. Bits of avant-garde are melded with folk, jazz, chamber, Americana, perhaps even a bit of blue grass, mixed in a blender and sprinkled with a substantial helping of progressive rock. Influences from Gentle Giant to RIO bands like Henry Cow seems to be a general consensus. Interesting arrangements, quirky instrumentation and excellent musicianship is commonplace. Another interesting aspect of the band is Waitkus' lead vocals. He has a fine tenor and is always on point but his melodic tone may be somewhat of an acquired taste. In my opinion his vocals are ideally suited to the band's unique music.
The disc begins with the mostly a cappella "I Am So Glad To Meet You". It's a short track but the vocals are outstanding. The next two tracks, "The Old Man and the Table Saw" and "When the Door Opens, It Opens on Everything" are both highlights. The former features a jaunty melody supported by mandolin, bassoon and violin with many twisting turns and a great bass groove while the latter has a predominant Americana sound with hints of blue grass. An excellent acoustic guitar intro and playful bassoon and violin makes this one a must listen. Another one of my favourites is the catchy ".22, or Denny Takes One For the Team" opening with a cool intro of dulcimer and violin and later on an excellent trumpet solo. This one definitely has a bit of whimsy. Fred Firth (Art Bears, Henry Cow) provides electric guitar on the intriguing "Videos of the Dead". Ethereal instrumentation with some really unique sounds and is still surprisingly catchy. One of the band's greatest strengths is able to take their esoteric sound and squeeze out some great melodies. "Fighting the Doughboy" is the disc's longest track with spacious instrumentation, nice vocal harmonies, delicate guitar work and sublime melodies.
This has been a difficult review to write because music as innovative as this can sometimes be hard to describe. That should be taken as a compliment. Jack O' The Clock deserves your full support so please go out and purchase this highly rewarding album so they can continue to make great music.
1. I Am So Glad to Meet You
2. The Old Man and the Table Saw
3. When the Door Opens, It Opens on Everything
4. Epistemology/Even Keel
5. .22, or Denny Takes One For the Team
6. Videos of the Dead
8. Fighting the Doughboy
9. After the Dive
Added: February 8th 2017
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
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