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Jack Name – Light Show

on January 23, 2014, 12:00am
B-
Release Date
January 21, 2014
Label
Drag City
Formats
digital, vinyl
Buy it on amazon

On Light Show, Los Angeles musician John Webster Johns establishes his alter ego, Jack Name, as an irreverent master of the recording studio. He writes a song and then fucks with it, adding twisted overdubs and sound manipulations until it becomes a vague portrait of itself. Notes don’t always go together, instruments are out of tune, vocals out of key: Jack Name plays by his own set of left field musical ideologies, recalling the disintegrations of Chrome and the candid humor of Ween.

The aptly titled opener “My Own Electric Ladyland” follows deranged, repeating riffs as Name sings through bright reverb. He makes no compromises with his listeners and starts Light Show with three tracks that are as off-putting as they are intriguing. Drum machines and synths clash and mingle in an obstinate coexistence. The vocals are pitch-shifted to sound squeaky and childlike, like a voice mask. It’s equally frustrating and mysterious — not always pleasurable, yet still able to fetch the ear.

The 8-bit chiptune melody on “Sound Was the Castle” signals a brief reprieve from the chaos, as Name transitions into his two most accessible songs. “New Guitars” is a bluesy shredder that spotlights the fine guitar work that’s otherwise repressed throughout the record. “Pure Terror” is a fuzz pop gem (appropriately the LP’s lone single) that finally reveals the singer’s true voice. It’s cool, confident, and then it’s gone, back to the high-pitched mask.

In the practical sense, Light Show is disruptive and difficult because these moments of pop clarity are so few and fleeting. John Webster Johns hides behind his Jack Name moniker and reveals nothing. But, taken on its own terms, it’s a record full of secrets, quirks, and allusions: a fun house of lo-fi dabbling and occasional bliss.

Essential Tracks: “My Own Electric Ladyland”, “Pure Terror”

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