Here goes with the overwrought musical descriptions and, inevitably, a faulty comparison or two. As American composer Aaron Copland put it, “If a literary man puts together two words about music, one of them will be wrong.”
So let me say a wrong word about Jackbloom, the best unknown band I’ve heard in a long time. (The last unknown band to really impress me was led by Dave Matthews.) Sure, Jackbloom has talent. The players have open invitations from at least four other local bands. “Being a band” is a tenuous business, after all.
Jackbloom’s current focus is a CD for release this summer. Mushroom Cloud or Wild Blue Yonder are tentative working titles. The album promises what rock Americana always promises: nothing less than the indie grail, the breakout. Jackbloom songs might be a bit too complex to be hits, but they don’t neglect melodic hooks either, sorta Neil Young-ish, or Pretenders. (See note on “faulty comparison” above.)
It’s a band with a voice of its own. I’m not talking vocals. I mean the songs themselves have distinct voice. Jackbloom doesn’t “sound like” anybody else, and that’s a major achievement in this if-it-worked-for-them era of copyright infringement.
Adam Jaffe’s smooth pedal steel, Alex Sefchik’s precise moving bass lines, drummer Chad Kortan’s spot-on harmonies, the clever lyrics and tasty licks—whatever it is, Jackbloom sounds like Jackbloom.
Songwriter Dave Gill lives in the studio. Literally. Equipment upstairs, bed and refrigerator downstairs. His van is on the chopping block, ripe for repossession when the financiers figure out where he lives. He got a killer deal on a vintage speaker cabinet last week, another debt the Muse won’t pay. He’s up all night with Her because one of the tracks won’t mix right. Time slips by modern tempo. He’s sick of playing crowd pleasers he wrote 12 years ago. He paints houses to pay rent on the studio, and the CD’s not ready to send away.
“I’m not in it to get laid,” he says, “I’ve got a girlfriend.” On a similar theme, “I’ve got all my chips on the table” and, the one I like, “I’ve got no Plan B.”
Gill is a perfectionist living in an imperfect world. He doesn’t have a hell of a lot of tolerance for kids in bands who don’t know an inverted chord. He displays in full self-aware technicolor what Todd Rundgren called “The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect.” His songs range from heart-on-sleeve anthems to wry, humorous social commentaries.
Along with Gill, reformed garage-can banger Kortan has senior membership, having moved with the band from Sedona, Ariz., to Reno two years ago. Easygoing Jaffe, a talent on guitar, pedal steel guitar or whatever you put into his hands, also moved from Sedona. He can twang a banjo or twing a mandolin. Bassist Sefchik, a graduate of Berklee School of Music, has a jazz background, an unexpected layer to Jackbloom’s brand of rock Americana.
Sophisticated, catchy rock songs are rare on stage or radio. The CD, whatever it’s called, won’t be perfect, but it will be distinctly Jackbloom.