Roaming around the ol' noggin

Boy, did I keep going back and forth on this one. The Jackals expertly recreate the rambling psychedelic americana of late-era Byrds--minus Roger McGuinn's iconic vocals, of course. I kept waiting to hear something that elevated this above the tribute level. And then I stopped waiting.

The Jackals
(Burger Records)
There's no cribbing here despite the fact that the Jackals do what countless other bands have done. They dig deep into influences and recreate a sound without a supporting scene. And why not? The late 60s and early 70s gave us some of the greatest music of all time. Yes, Rolling Stone overstates this with every "Best Albums Ever" issue, but boomer nostalgia isn't the reason for this acclaim.

Let's take a very quick look at 1968. The Byrds released two albums (The Notorious Byrd Brothers and Sweetheart of the Rodeo), Johnny Cash threw out Live at Folsom Prison, Creedence released its first album and then there are the albums you know by heart: White Light/White Heat, Music from Big Pink and Astral Weeks. Oh, and the Mothers of Invention released We're Only In It for the Money and Cruising with Rueben and the Jets. Not to mention minor events like the White Album and Beggars Banquet. Do you seriously think any year since 1973 measures up? No, and it's not close. Even 1991 (the year of Nevermind, Still Feel Gone and so much more) doesn't come close in terms of depth.

So I'm re-evaluating the way I look at stuff like this. The Jackals aren't reverent in their sound. They do a fine psychedelia, and they write solid songs. If you're in the mood, this album will satisfy a craving. Is it the second coming of anything? No. But it sure does set a nice plate for the frontal lobes.

The Jackals do throw some modern ideas into the hopper, but that's mostly in terms of arrangements and superior production values. These songs bound about most pleasantly, and there's very little drop-off as the album rolls on. If this isn't your sound, then so be it. There's no great musical revolution going on here--just good music. And in the final analysis, I'll take that every time.

Jon Worley

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