Jetpack On! (their punctuation – although I would imagine that anytime a jetpack is involved, there is some sense of urgency) is a three-piece band from Michigan that nicely straddles indie, powerpop and straight-ahead rock and roll. Guitars rock, vocals are solid, and there’s a conscious effort to avoid padding in the arrangements – a welcome change from a lot of young bands seeking to set themselves apart from the pack.
Leadoff cut “Best I Can” is punchy with an infectious chorus, sounding like Snow Patrol asked The Edge to sit in on guitar – and it’s even better than that sounds. There are a myriad of “sounds like” moments here, from the above referenced U2 in “Come On Stack It Up” to such polar opposites as a poppier Buckcherry (“Tease Tease Tease”) and a far more skilled Maroon 5 (“I Know, You Know”, “Here Again”). One could even imagine a mature Billy Idol helming “Another Surpise” and having an FM hit with it; guitarist Ryan Hoger even sounds like he’s getting his Steve Stevens on during the solo.
Hoger and Nick and Vince D’Agostino (bass and drums, respectively) have a clear, crisp sound and songs that for the most part hold up very well with repeat plays. The ten tracks hover between the four and five-minute mark, which is a minute longer than people expect from pop songs, but Jetpack On pulls it off; I never felt like the songs should have ended sooner.
In fact, my two favorite tracks might be the longest. The hypnotic single “Where Do We Go From Here?” gradually builds from a pulse to a fist-pumping rocker, and the closing track “Bring Her Back Home” is just dripping with attitude. I suggest that you check them out and get your Jetpack On!
Jetpack On! at MySpace
Although he sat in on a gig in July, he hadn’t been playing drums with them since 2009, but you can’t think of Little Feat without thinking of its backbone, and one of its founders, Richie Hayward. Diagnosed with liver cancer last year, and sadly (like so many musicians) without sufficient health insurance, he finally succumbed Thursday night.
Beyond the storied and wonderful Feat catalogue, Hayward also played with a laundry list of musicians over the years and will be sorely missed. I hope he and Lowell George are jamming right now in that club on the other side. R.I.P. my friend.
Welsh Rabbit was another band I stumbled across on those late-night “sounds like” tangents that I have been addicted to for most of my life. Back in 1991 all I was able to get my hands on was West 11th Love Letters. I wrote it up for Cosmik Debris but lost track of them soon afterwards and figured they might have been yet another band who high-fived the brass ring but didn’t grab hold.
As you can see from this CD Baby comment page, I wasn’t the only person being pleasantly surprised. It also appears like I have a fellow Tangent Monkey in the commenter who cites following a recommendation based upon his purchase of The Rosenbergs. You’ll note references to Weezer, Elvis Costello and The Beatles, although I think the Soft Boys and Big Star references more accurately pick up the dissonance they employ.
But we all agree that they’re a band worth checking out. Here are my original thoughts on that first EP…
I must admit when I heard the first few notes of “Where You Are,” I would have bet the farm that the singer would launch into “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” but it was merely a tip of the cap to the Fabs (as is the closing vocal harmony). West 11th Love Letter is a low-frills EP collection of some basic tracks laid down in vocalist/guitarist Nick Levine‘s basement. The sound is good, but more impressive is the charm of the songs; they’re amazingly strong for a first recorded document.
Somehow “Do You Want To Dance” juggles the indie cred of early REM with the hypnotic guitar work of The Edge in his prime. “My Summer Girl” and “Tonight” both have great hooks and show that the band can handle midtempo as well as power pop. Bassist Kyle Chilla, drummer Ian Campbell and keyboard player Rolf Nordhausen form a tight quarter with Levine. Overall the lead vocals are pretty good, although the harmonies are stronger; the guitars go for the jangle over the flash. For the first five tracks, anyway.
Nothing prepared me for the closing song, though. “Rollin'” is a ten-minute track that doesn’t waste a second. Somehow the pop path veers off into Neil Young meets Radiohead territory, and it works. Haunting, pulsating guitar work drives the song as the melody gains steam and the vocals build into a crescendo, tagging a minor chord to reset the mood. I know that most of their songs are now a little shorter and sharper, but this is one that I hope they keep playing at full length – it’s a stirringly emotional piece of music that few bands outside of Built To Spill can pull off well.
Looks like they are now a trio (Nick, Kyle and drummer Jordan Selman) and finally have a full-length album out called Don Quixote vs. Sancho Panza. I’ll have to grab that along with the other EP I missed, Forward Motion.
Welsh Rabbit on MySpace
Welsh Rabbit website
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