The Jackstones’ release Love Badly
If you were to ask me to summarize The Jackstones’ latest album Love Badly in a sentence, I would describe it as what I imagine a Husker Du album would sound like if they had been a country band instead of the alternative rock pioneers that they were, and that the resulting product sounds a lot less like The Flying Burrito Brothers than one might expect it to. What I mean by this comparison is that like Husker Du, The Jackstones are committed to pushing the sonic envelope and limitations of their own genre of music to the very edge to see what they can render without going off a cliff into the atonal abyss, and that Love Badly doesn’t sound like the “experimental country album” as we’ve been led to understand the term. The Jackstones are the intellectual’s country music band, sans pretentiousness, and characterize all of the ideals of what country can sound like when it isn’t required to play down to its audience.
Love Badly is a pretty airy, nimble record that moves with grace from song to song without any breaks or chop to shift the momentum away from the band and their grooves. While they could have broken this into two separate extended plays and allowed the songs to breathe a little bit more, the twelve tracks here still work as a really smart collection of songs that play off of each other well and don’t just repeat the same four bars played in different fashions. “Cowboy Life,” for example, has all of the muscle and grit of a southern rock standard, while “Obstacle Course” is a hard driving country rock song that leaves Nashville guitar slingers in the dust with its sexy Californian sting. “Crawl” on the other hand is a blues driven ballad that almost mischievously slinks between the left and right speakers like a jungle predator in the night, hot on the prowl for some vulnerable prey. There literally is something for everybody on Love Badly, and that isn’t something that I can say about very many records that I listen to as a critic or as a consumer.
When music is as physical and prominent as this, you don’t try and compress it into a small space and hope that all of the energy and passion will translate all the same. The Jackstones did the most important thing a band can do when it comes to producing an album of this gravity; they didn’t force anything, they didn’t try and color it differently, they just let it open up and unfold on its own, and in experiencing their music, the relaxed vibe they celebrate becomes quite contagious. No matter what your taste in music is, whether it be in rock, pop, R&B or good old fashioned country music, you can’t go wrong with The Jackstones this summer and Love Badly. They took some big risks with this record, and the payoff is adding up to be something that could impact the future of their medium forever.