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Jackson Scott – Start The Bus, Bristol (November 6, 2013)

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Jackson Scott – Start The Bus, Bristol (November 6, 2013)

Posted on 11 November 2013 by Joe

After first hearing 20 year old, North Carolina based Jackson Scott’s astoundingly ghostly track ‘Sandy,’ I was excited to hear that he was soon appearing in Bristol. Immediately contacting Scott’s PR people to see if I could get on the guestlist for tonight’s gig, I waited a patient week before the response came through in the positive.

Enthusiastically and somewhat smugly informing a couple of friends that one of them could come along to the show for free, it was then even more smugly pointed out that the price of admission was all of 0p. As a burgeoning reviewer, I now had sufficient clout to command free entry for myself and one lucky friend for a show where literally no exchange of cash was necessary upon entering the doors. I felt like a mug, like the PR guy must have thought me rather special but, considering the quality of a song like ‘Sandy,’ I was also surprised.

Jackson Scott

Jackson Scott

Scott, accompanied by a drummer and bassist, provides a peddle-board induced feedback swirl of guitar sounds as the set begins. The opening track sets the precedent for the rest of the show: the music drifts from eerie textures created by multiple effects to instrument thrashing and slurred vocal murkiness.

Second track ‘Evie’ provides a slightly lighter touch with its piercing arpeggio intro and a more melodic thrust detected within Scott’s androgynous, synthetic vocal. “I’m Jackson Scott and we’re just kids from America playing Rock n Roll; we hope you like it,” he declares before introducing next track ‘That Awful Sound,’ a title that seems to induce some familiarity amongst the sparse dozen or so watchers who loiter around the stage area. Containing an all-out assault by the 3 musicians, a fractured bar chord strum and phasing, trippy guitar effects, the song distends into a lengthy instrumental jam before a Nirvana-esque 4 chord crunch heralds back in the vocal. One can perhaps see a slight physical similarity between Kurt Cobain and Scott; both small, wiry men producing hefty unpolished guitar sounds, vacillating between shrill and angry to impacting like a sledgehammer.

Next song is ‘Sandy,’ inspired by 2012’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Writing about such subject matter will often lead to either tastelessness or sanctimony, but Scott has nimbly traversed such downfalls; it is easily the highlight of Melbourne and therefore his best song. As striking as the recorded version is, the live performance fails to deliver the song’s lysergic creepiness and it’s camouflaged within the set as just another track.

The punky sounding ‘Anyway’ is dedicated to “The Bristol girls out there” and it is one of Scott’s more melodic offerings. Extending the track far past the duration of the album version, he slows the melody down to a crawl while utilising more opaque vocal effects and the first appearance of vibrato.

Scott experiments with feedback and various psychedelic effects from his peddles throughout, giving him the demeanour of an impish mad scientist imbued with the quirkiness of Mellow Gold era Beck. His bass player is an animated mass of moshing for the entire show and, performing directly in front of Bristol’s ubiquitous Big Jeff, the two seem as kindred souls as they head-bang their copious mass of curls toward each other in a transatlantic sprawl of follicles.

Coming across as rather sardonic, Scott is all monotone “Thanks” in between songs and he introduces ‘In The Sun’ with a sarcastic “This is about bored fuckin’ American teenagers, maybe you can relate.” Perhaps he is put out by the fact that, particularly for a free gig, he is performing to such a small crowd in a bar full of oblivious drinkers in booths and distracted discoursers. As the final chord of the night rings out, he says “Thank you Bristol, you’ve been fucking amazing,” and his barbed dreariness drips with arrogance.

Scott no doubt has a blossoming talent and, as composer of ‘Sandy,’ he certainly is deserved of a much larger audience than was present tonight. His following date at the Lexington in London, requiring the commitment of seeing him at £7.50 a pop, is sure to be more to his liking.

I then depart into the dark November night which is something, as connected as I am, I can also do for free.

by Scott Hammond

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Jackson Scott – Melbourne

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Jackson Scott – Melbourne

Posted on 13 September 2013 by Joe

With Melbourne, lo-fi wizard and college drop-out Jackson Scott has done his homework. His debut album offers a heavy dose of hero-worship. Laying down the tracks directly on tape, using a four track and doing pretty much everything himself, emulates Beck or John Linklaus.

Jackson-Scott-Melbourne

It’s not hard to see why. Scott recalls that “I remember riding in the baby seat listening to Nevermind – maybe listening to a junkie sing pop songs subconsciously influenced me as a four year old.”

At it’s worst, this album lays on the morose mimicry too thickly. Evie sounds like Scott’s put all of Radiohead’s in a blender and produced a sonic smoothie with an aftertaste of Paranoid Android and Karma Police. It’s not bad, just … too familiar perhaps?

Never Ever is a fat dopey psych rock wedge that’s so reminiscent of Syd Barrett you can almost smell the patchouli. Elsewhere the album feels like a more listenable Neutral Milk Hotel.

Sandy is the most emotional song on the album. As with much of the album, it’s still vocally deadpan, but it explores the recent Sandy Hook high school massacre in a way that makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

At his most poppy Jackson Scott’s That Awful Sound fuses a Monkees like vocal with yet another  Radiohead tune. Doctor Now is poppy in a different way. It’s like a morose heroin hit. Comforting and frightening. Uplifting and saddening.

Together Forever is all anthemic distortedly kaleidoscopic guitars and slacker lyrics. Its a fusion that works. It hints a little at Slowdive or early Boo Radleys.

It’s hard to tell whether Melbourne is a work of creative genius or Jackson Scott is a master forger. Either way he shows talent.

I think it’s an admirable debut, but a definite crowd-splitter. After my regulation three listens-through I still couldn’t work out whether I thought it was madness or genius. I’m now up to my tenth listen and I’m still not sure. But I am still enjoying it.

8.5/10

by Rob Finch

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