Ocean Eyes Records
Review by Kent Manthie
Hailing from one of my least favorite places (sorry) – Salt Lake City. I once got stranded there for 3 days-no money, nothing to do, nowhere to hang out but one little square park in the center of downtown. This place is so squeaky clean, even the “slums” are nice. I suppose, though, if I had a wad of cash & wasn’t sick I might’ve been able to find something to do…Damn, EVERYTHING is closed in SLC on Sundays! Those Mormons really take their “sabbath” seriously! Whoa!
Enough about me, though. Jack Wilkinson – that’s the name on the CD that I received from Force Field – but, while looking him up for this review, on the web, I see that he’s actually a part of this band called Juan Wilde. Now, I don’t know which is which or if this is his solo CD or what? To be honest, I can’t find much at all on the ‘net about him or them. But I do have Jackalope to listen to. On Bandcamp.com it mentions Jack Wilkinson as the one with the album, but at the bottom it also mentions that “Juan Wilde is…” and lists six members including Jack and one Colton Nielson, who, I read, co-wrote a couple of the songs on Jackalope.
Wondering what to describe Jack as I see “tags” listed at the bottom of the Bandcamp page, which reads: blues/country/experimental/folk/free jazz/progressive/psychedelic/rock blues and Salt Lake City. I didn’t mistake any of the tunes for Ornette Coleman, so maybe this is more of a list of influences. What is “free” about the album is the associative talk between songs. The album starts off with a minute-long track called “The Dinner” which is just a group of people insanely bantering about during an ostensible dinner/dinner party. The music per se, though, I’d say does ring true to the blues. I suppose you could throw in the label “folk” as well. The penultimate song is, ironically (or not?) called “The Last Song”, which starts out in a folk setting, then speeds up a bit, adding electric guitar and a harder beat. The final tune is another minute-long tune, entitled “The Hunt”, which is, like “The Dinner”, not a “song” so much as a few dudes talking, it sounds as if they’re out in the wilderness, hunting for a “jackalope”, which, I suppose you could say, is the “theme” or “concept” of the album as it is something mentioned in other songs.
Speaking of the other songs – talking about the various genres they bend and twist together, “You Gave Me a Reason” is another folkie, which can’t really be pinned down as such, it has more of an ironic twist to it. “…Reason” goes right into “Lovin’ Machine”, which is a slick muted down rock tune, with some electric and acoustic guitars, a bluesy, ballsy vocal and, like a lot of this album, a free-form feel to it. They are indeed a loose-knit combo, but in the way a comedian can make it seem like anyone can be funny by telling jokes, when, in reality, a lot of work goes into the writing and timing, etc. On “B ‘n’ B” the band goes into a spiel that sounds as if they’re in a coffeehouse, being introduced and ready to go onstage. This stuff goes on for a bit throughout the next few songs. The irreverence on here is reminiscent of a Frank Zappa or a Loudon Wainwright III.
Ocean Eyes Records is the label that has released Jackalope. In the very near future, keep your eyes open for another band from the Ocean Eyes label – Fasba Fpel, who has a new album out that I’ll be reviewing very soon. Hope you understand what I’m writing here and enjoy. -KM.