Thursday, December 19, 2013

The True Jacqueline's newest EP is a blaze of guitar glory

  The True Jacqueline are a three piece indie rock outfit from Northampton, Massachusetts.  They have just release an EP titled Like Way Out. I think it's pretty great. Full disclosure though, I used to play in a band with their guitarist, Noah Cerveny (the Billy Ripken Fuck Face Card, look it up)... and live with him too. And the album was produced by Planes' drummer Jeff Patlingrao (who also produced/mixed our last album). So basically, it's inbred cronyism. That being said, I'm honestly crazy about this EP. If you're into guitars and pedals, AND lo-fi/mid-fi recordings, you need to give this a listen. Recorded on a Tascam 688, Like Way Out captures the rawness of the cassette tape machine, without losing any clarity or definition in the guitars.

The actual, factual, for reallz... True Jacqueline

  Cerveny and bassist Kate Niemczyk share vocal duties on the EP, and despite differences on tonality, both voices maintain a certain innocent nerdy-ness and flow together quite nicely. Drummer Brian DiPippo stays out of the way of the more intricate guitar work, but just barely. He plays about as much as one really can, while still letting the tonal instruments ring through. A fun drummer to watch live, DiPippo shines during the EP's many transitional passages.

"Knock Knees" is the EP's opener is a lesson in crunchy bass playing. Bass distortion is something that I rarely like, but Niemczyk's tone is full and powerful. The song's jagged sections feel almost scotch-taped together, yet never quite come loose, giving the track an air of spontaneity. Throughout their career, Tru-Jaq have made the transition from heavily overdriven riffs to choppy clean, almost reggae-esque rhythm playing a signature move. Though this track is bigger and more raw than their earlier work, that finger print remains.

"Cloud Metal" is the next tune. This one is more of a straight ahead rocker, at least at first. Another Kate fronted song, it's about as punk as Tru-Jac has gotten thus far, and comes right out and hits you with an aggressive assault that was missing from the band's earlier work. At about the minute mark, "Cloud Metal" takes a left turn into a really pretty dual vocal passage, with Niemczyk singing lead and Cerveny singing counterpoint. During the outro, Kate's voice pushes the limits of the preamp; an emotional buildup towards the ending, she rises over a mess of drums and distortion.

The next song, "Cookie Dog" (no idea what that is), is my favorite. It's starts a little slow, with some shimmering arpeggios. But honestly, after the end of "Cloud Metal" the EP kinda needs a little rest, and the band was smart to include it. DiPippo's drums pull the shoegazed guitars through a muddy ravine of feedbacked reverbed 6-string electrical truth. It feels like Cerveny plays half the guitars, and electricity plays the rest; like he's riding the current. He has the imperfect voice of a guitarsmith. It's perfect on this track.

"Harrison, Forbes, and Gart"is the fourth track, and it's punctuated by a pokey melody right off the back. The reference is to a Twilight Zone episode involving disappearing astronauts, though the subject matter feels more personal as Niemczyk's sad vocals seem to direct the listener towards a moment of introspection, rather than depict the dialog of a fictional character.

Like Way Out closes with "I Can Read." The tune starts off with a barrage of guitar noise, as if to shake off the ending of "H, F, and G" and declare itself a new song. This feels like the most bass-driven song on the EP, especially during the quieter verses, when the drums are mainly shaker and kick. True to form, Tru-Jac nerds out on us once more, before finishing us off with a spastic guitar solo/melodic riff/one more rep of the verse/chorus.

  On Like Way Out, The True Jacqueline get edgier, slightly darker, and more emotive. Whereas older material relied heavily on quirky charm, this work relies mostly on craft. It's not that the nerd factor is turned down, (in no way has the identity of the band changed); it's the amplification of nuances that existed on Nice Bird, were recognized on Things Under Water, and now are finally fully controlled by the band.

Check out Like Way Out on Bandcamp ---> here.

Don't forget to RSVP to the HBR holiday party ---> here.

Like The True Jacqueline on Facebook ---> here.

And like HBR on Facebook ---> here.

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