We all trust the music we know, and from where Jason Karaban’s coming from on his new album Shift, it’s not a hard bet that this music’s soon to be permanently implanted in your heads. Trust me.
When you bring this much talent together, it’s hard not to craft a melodic alt-pop gem — or at least you wouldn’t think it’d be. Written jointly with Glen Phillips and featuring Counting Crows’ David Immergluck and Charlie Gillingham, as well as Lucy Schwartz, the song has everything working in its favor on paper. Still, it’s refreshing to hear “Devil That I Know,” the latest from Jason Karaban, off his upcoming album Shift, actually delivers on all that promise! This is a twisty hook of epic pop proportions, easily living up to the reputations of all involved.
Karaban, based in LA, got his start fronting the band Dragstrip Courage in ’97, which explains at least some of the depth of alt-rock nineties love you’ll feel when playing this new track. It’s a cross between early Counting Crows and more modern alternative in the vein of Only Son, and if the rest of the album is this good I suspect you’ll be hearing a lot more about it … from me and any of your musical friends with taste.
Those of you who have been long-time readers of Hear! Hear! know I’m a huge fan of Only Son, the solo front for Jack Dishel, formerly of Mouldy Peaches fame. His album Searchlight, which came out back in January, remains among my picks for the top albums of 2011, but he’s still bubbling under the radar. Below you can read previous articles from this site regarding the album and its various video singles, but you may also behold his latest video, this time for “You Stayed At Home,” one of the album’s least assuming tracks. It’s a beautiful melody-based acoustic track featuring the lyrics / vocals up front in a way which makes one wonder how huge a hit this could have been in the 60s if covered by a duo like Simon and Garfunkel. That’s Searchlight in a nutshell; this is an album which covers so many genres and moments in time it becomes all but timeless itself. Too bad so few people have had the chance to fall under its spell.
But it’s never too late …
Year of the Album — #033
Only Son – “Searchlight” (2011, Red General Catalog)
Jack Dishel, of Moldy Peaches fame, really comes out of his artistic shell with Searchlight, his sophomore album recorded under the moniker Only Son. Featuring a dozen songs awash in Beatlesque melodies, he continuously twists the music up in knots, managing to constantly surprise the listener on repeated listens thanks to his unique, quirky arrangements and his many deceptive hooks.
“It’s magic, ‘til you know how it works,” he sings. “Nobody wants to see how you do it.” The same applies to the magic of songwriting, and Dishel consistently makes it sound easy even though there are so many layers going on at all times on these songs. “Magic,” the album’s first single, features the strongest link with Lennon-McCartney era pop, layering echoed vocals atop keyboards and guitars that build a complex sound out of a straightforward arrangement. It’s aural alchemy, and he knows he’s got us by the shorthairs.
“It’s A Boy” throws the album’s first curveball, and it’s a doozy, melding a creepy Bradburyesque story of genetic engineering into a song which features a tight bass line and eerie keyboards, culminating in a mindbending chorus which will be guaranteed to stick in your head for weeks. “Stamp Your Name On It” then immediately throws us for a loop, melding “End Of The World As We Know It” era R.E.M. vocals over a clever musical arrangement which owes as much to “Miserlou” as it does to “Rock Lobster.”
The album as a whole is impeccably arranged, with each song playing as well on its own as it does as part of the complete song cycle. Searchlight proves that Jack Dishel is truly a songwriter of note, and he’s got the skills to keep us guessing while continuing to create pop music of the highest order. If you heard this album when it came out in January, give it another shot – there’s so much worth exploring, there’s nothing like a repeat listen to jog the memory. And if you’ve never heard Jack Dishel or Only Son, jump in headfirst, the water’s fine!
My nephew finally got himself an mp3 player for Christmas. And already the adventurous music listener (and a voracious one too!) he asked me to play “cool uncle” and fill it up with music for him for New Years.
Yes, he wants the usual stuff everyone his age is listening to on the radio … or as his mother puts it: “anything that sounds rebellious.” But he’s also a huge Lindsey Buckingham junkie. He’s memorized most of the libretto to Anais Mitchell’s Americana opera Hadestown (my top pick for album of the year in 2010). And he helped pick out The White Album by the Beatles and the BBC Sessions from Led Zeppelin for my father for Christmas along with his parents.
Did I mention he’s in first grade?
I’ve noticed people tend to have low opinions of young people and their musical taste. Disney markets Hannah Montana to kids and they lap it up because it’s what they hear — and their parents buy it for them because the music’s safe and inoffensive (just don’t let the kiddies watch “Can’t Be Tamed” if that’s your theory!) But kids aren’t stupid. They want to hear music that sounds good, and if they could hear bands like Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, Regina Spektor or Only Son playing on top 40 radio, they’d lap those bands’ albums up too.
[It'd be nice if the music industry could pick up that kind of idea and run with it, the idea of getting kids when they're young and teaching them to love music, to want to explore it. These are our children, they're not just another marketing tool.]
Anyway, I just had a ton of fun filling his mp3 player up with both the music I know he already enjoys, along with the music I think he will enjoy when he gets a chance to hear it on shuffle. And I’m not going to make assumptions about what might or might not be over his head … aside from keeping things clean (he’s seven, so no major profanity) I think it’s best to let him set the limits of what works.
I can’t wait to hear what he winds up latching onto …
Can this Only Son upcoming album release for Searchlight get any more tantalizing before the world gets to hear it in full? Short answer: “Hell yes!” With “It’s A Boy,” his second single off the album (which isn’t even out until January 18, 2011, former Moldy Peaches guitarist Jack Dishel rocks things into a whole new dimension by taking on … eugenics? Again: “Hell yes!” In one of the creepiest videos I’ve seen in a long time, played completely straight by Dishel, with Aleksa Palladino (of Boardwalk Empire) and her EXITMUSIC bandmate Devon Church providing able support, is a (not so distant) future where the perfect child can be built from scratch … for a price. And those who can’t pay … well, it’s best not to think about it.
Check out the video before it goes super-viral, so you can say you saw it first! (Lyrics below). And as soon as I can get a full-length review copy of the album, I’ll run a review by you all to further draw out the anticipation.
Let’s start with the baby’s gender … do you know what you both want?
Well, we’ve discussed it, and we’re pretty sure we’d like to have a boy.
Okay … that’s fine.
Six-two with perfect vision, good teeth and perfect skin.
Block the addiction gene and quarrantine his temper if you can.
Okay … we’ll see.
He needs a homing chip put deep inside his wrist,
In case somebody tries to steal our “little Prince.”
You’re not the first in line, and I don’t have a lot of time.
And if you’ll look I’m sure you wouldn’t mind
To pick one of our stock designs.
I’ll leave it with you.
He shouldn’t have to go to school like all those people off the grid.
He needs a good head start, like every single normal other kid.
I’m sure we’ll find a way to pay …
He needs a humor chip – put it second on the list,
For when he’s old enough to realize where he is.
And if we can’t afford to give him what he’s worth,
Just make sure that he’s strong enough to work.
You’re not the first in line, and I’m running out of time.
I can recommend a friend of mine who deals with our “low budget” line.
But if you want to make him right, so he has a better life
You can sign us back his human rights and get him now for half the price.
It’s a pretty good deal …
I heard this guy several years ago when he opened for Regina Spektor while playing the Murat Egyptian Room in Indianapolis, and I knew someday being on his mailing list was going to pay off. “Magic,” the new single off his upcoming album, Searchlight — the long-awaited sophomore effort due out January 18, 2011, is a real stunner with a video which definitely grabs your attention. Enjoy it below:
The new album, according to an email from the artist, will feature guest input from members of the Strokes, Of Montreal, Robbers on High Street and Little Joy, along with a unnamed duet with Ms. [Regina] Spektor herself . . . something I’m already salivating over, and I haven’t even heard it yet.
I’ll definitely keep up on this guy in the coming months. Who knows, perhaps a full interview with him will grace these Internet pages in time for the new year . . .