Let’s be honest for just a second shall we. I get a lot of albums sent my way for review, and I mean a lot. Most of them don’t do anything for me. They don’t always get happily placed in the CD player, but the ones that do usually get a three song stay of execution and generally if they last past that they get my full unadulterated attention. Sometimes I’m hooked from the first track, and that’s precisely what happened when I put the latest release by Los Angeles based band Hunter and the Dirty Jacks on. The CD bursts to life with “Jubilee” and its fantastic rocked out sound that follows through with a wonderful sequence of songs, 3 of them to be exact. It twists and turns the way great albums should with a little bit of rock, a little bit of high octane driven rock-soul and a lot of harmonic goodness. Hunter and The Dirty Jacks comprise a virtual all-star cast of Los Angeles and Orange County-area musicians that have been playing locally and regionally for over ten years apiece. Fronted by lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Hunter Ackerman, and anchored by Jon Siembieda and Carmelo Bonaventura on guitar, Aaron Barnes on bass, and Brian Lara on drums, the Dirty Jacks put forth an extremely high energy, emotionally compelling performance coupled with a rare combination of soulful originals and tasty covers.
I also really like the song line up – the way each song masterfully transitions through to the next creating much in the way of drama. So many bands and record labels get this basic skill so wrong. They fail to listen to the songs at their disposal and seemingly throw the album together without giving it any real thought. I’ve known people who work formulas making sure that their best songs start and finish the album with the remaining tracks squeezed between in a slapdash fashion. That’s not the case with Hunter and the Dirty Jacks. In fact each track could probably survive on its own merits, but the album just flows so well. Front man Ackerman and company could easily be heralded as classic sounding rock but there is so much more to them. I hear Leon Russell, original musical works by Charles Manson, Bobby Charles, John Cleary, John Hyatt, Lowell George. Some pieces stand out like the more appealing to a mass audience “Jubilee” but there’s a deeper and sharper edge to songs like “Smoking Gun.” Salt Whiskey” is my favorite track on the EP. The strategic interweaving of systemic melody and impressive vocal performances from Ackerman is a delight, but the solid rhythmical foundation of this band is essential to their artistic and commercial potential. The sound is that of the golden era of popular music in the sixties and the seventies when musicianship mattered! But the beauty of this record is the use of all mod-cons forcing The Dirty Jacks’ relevance into the modern world. These 6 should achieve good support from radio and appear to be critical darlings of California. But I am left bemused how Hunter and the Dirty Jacks are not yet a household name. It’s not a case of all the elements being present but the final product being missing as the songs, the musicianship, the production, and the performance all knit together beautifully-even brilliantly. Maybe I’m lucky enough to be in on the ground floor? Maybe things are just about to kick on for them.
Whatever it is make sure you get hold of this latest ‘short but sweet” self-titled EP by Hunter and the Dirty Jacks right away via the below link – it’s a must have and in a class all by itself.
Rating – 8.5/10 CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/hunterthedirtyjacks
Michelle Parks edited by Michael Rand
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