Elison Jackson are a band that stands out. They have their own distinct and unique blend of pop, folk and blues. On their new album "Do Not Fear To Kill A Dead Man" they explore new and old territory, refining and perfecting their sound.
"Tongue On Fire" opens the album starting off slow and lonely like a good Wilco song, and then as soon as Sam Perduta's crooning vocals begin the song is brough to the next level by singing saws. This is a very nontraditional use of singing saws (if that's what they are), they kind of work like Issac Brock's vocals at their most effective: confidently off-key. This is a nice take on traditional songs by fusing old and new ideas with classic instrumentation. Sam's occasional vocal cracks bring so much life to the melody.
"No Tomorrow" has qualities not unlike many of the tracks on their debut album "Spectral Evidence". Nice vocals through some light and tasteful distortion, matched with flaunty and saturated drums, bass and keys. There is some 12-string guitar work that goes along the bass that gives it a real late 60's vibe too. This would be a good contender for a lead singer and it is placed in the albums sequence to reflect that. This is a very solid and dark tune.
Sam rocks his best Dave Longstreth vocals as "2009" erupts into a near stadium ballad caliber folk song. This one is a surefire crowd pleaser live. Doubling up the vocals was a very tasteful move on this track, adding some width to the overall mix. There's a killer guitar/keyboard solo as well!
"Disco Teen" has some kicking drums and bass, but not how the title would suggest (FYI: it's a reference to the band Disco Teen 66). Some 80's synth effects and pop sensibility take the chorus of this song to the next level, delivering on the promise of some fun dance music. This one could also be a pretty strong single.
"Do Not Fear To Kill A Dead Man" is softer, and features very sparse percussion but is eerie and affecting. It's like a creepy lullaby drawing from some half remembered references from vastly opposing corners of the psyche. It crescendos and swells while teetering the line between genuine and campy.
"Biddleford 10" takes the tempo back up as the band creates a dark and foreboding pop song. This song reminded me in vibe of something The Walkmen would have done 10 years ago. It's feverish and dark and wonderful. I could see this as a single as well, more on the bold side, but still thoroughly enjoyable. The fuzz bass is pretty classy in this track as well.
I think "Dreams Of Home" might be Sam's best job on vocals ever. The song floats along as his reverberated vocals swell and blow out the song like a strong wind. The back and forth between the vocals and music is a real treat to the ears, hearing how they play off each other in the environment of the song. To me, this is a pretty classic Elison Jackson song, a very strong representation of their overall sound and vibe.
"Sounds From The Hall Redux" is a sequel to a song from "Spectral Evidence" and is drastically more energized. While the original centered around guitar and upright bass, this song is sonically fleshed out. Drums, guitar, bass and keys all swirl about with Sam's trademark croons. This is a very feel good song and feels almost like a departure song. I bet this would be a good song to introduce this band to some one who hasn't heard them before. It's pretty universally poppy and pleasant on all levels.
The closer, "Sad Cellar Door" sports a sort of bombastic, honky-tonk rhythm and over time turns into an all out barn burner riot! This song has a build up like no other, filled with lead guitar and keys and HUGE ass drums! This song was expertly played and recorded. Like any good party, this one comes to an apex and then it ends, and that makes this track the perfect conclusion to this marvelous set of songs taking Elison Jackson to the next stage of their musical career.