Jackson Scott, a powerful psych-rock musician emerging on the sound-waves, takes the next step into polyphonic bliss. (Courtesy of Bloodmoss Records)
In the ever-evolving music landscape, psychedelic rock has been a staple since its inception and its most popular era in the late ‘60s. The scene back then was so deep that many of the lesser known bands put out records that were on par with some of the famous bands, but they never got the recognition they deserved outside of circles dedicated to that type of music.
Bands like 13th Floor Elevators, Love and King Crimson are more widely known than they used to be, but they still don’t compare in popularity to artists like Jimi Hendrix, The Doors or Pink Floyd.
The same dynamic can be seen in the modern music scene, where psych rock has a fairly prominent presence with bands like Tame Impala breaking into wider circles and bands like The Black Keys switching course from blues rock to psych rock. And just like in the ‘60s, there are plenty of underground bands putting out radical psych rock that don’t get nearly as much attention as they should.
One of these artists is Jackson Scott, who not only writes and plays, but also self produces his music. His first album, “Melbourne” (2013), was met with some critical attention but his music has yet to be widely heard. His latest record, “Sunshine Redux,” out today on Bloodmoss Records, is proof that he deserves the attention of the masses. What makes the record truly special is Scott’s knack for great transitions, which makes the album feel like one piece of art as opposed to a collection of songs. “Redux” starts with the short but sweet “Woodwork,” which seems to exist solely to be the crescendo leading into “Broken Record Repeat,” a thunderous acoustic guitar, strumming a unique but catchy chord progression.
Scott’s music takes influence from ‘90s grunge rock as well, with “Broken Record Repeat” being the best example of this; if the guitar was electric and a bit faster, it could easily sound like an old Nirvana demo. There is a pattern throughout the album of building up to a point, tearing it down and building up again. The third track, “Ripe for Love,” is a prime example of this, with the first two minutes dedicated to sounds that could soundtrack a demented merry-go-round. This leads into an anthemic chorus of sorts, which transitions into a heavy guitar solo only to be brought back to the merry-go-round for one last spin. “Steal Me” has one minute of dissonance that serves as great transition into “Pacify,” the first single of the record. A song that sounds like a lost Elephant 6 single, Scott again uses the tactic of acoustic verses leading into electric freak out choruses, with “Pacify” being one of the more uplifting examples.
As “Pacify” fades out, “Save the World” begins. Easily the most sentimental song on the record, it starts with an arpeggiated riff followed by melancholy chords and lyrics to match. Again, Scott transitions beautifully into the slow-burning “Merry Nightmare,” which features more arpeggiated guitars drifting along into a chorus in which Scott “promises life’s a merry nightmare.”
“Dissonance” follows in the wake of “Merry Nightmare,” and brings the listener back from sleep into Scott’s heavy reality, one that builds up into the most atonal and raucous part of the whole album. As “Dissonance” relents, “PRPLMTV” takes over in full force. Easily the most anthemic song on “Redux,” if any song catches mainstream appeal, it will be “PRPLMTV,” with its stripped down verses leading into swirling guitars that make the chorus disorienting but inescapable. Scott ends “PRPLMTV” with a synthesizer flourish, leaving only “Ripe for Love II” left for the listener to digest. Beginning with acoustic guitar playing that sounds like a classical guitar fingerpicking exercise, it transitions into a reprise of the earlier riff from “Ripe for Love” sauntering along ominously as Scott sings one more verse before letting “Sunshine Redux” fade out into the ether.
If anything, that is the only fault of the record; clocking in at just over 30 minutes, “Sunshine Redux” leaves the listener wanting more. At the same time, however, what is there shows that Scott has brilliant ideas in his cup of psych rock tea that the Mad Hatter could not even dream of, and the ability to make them a reality. And considering that he is only 22 years old, we could be hearing a lot more remarkable work from this man in the coming years.
In other words, jump on the bandwagon now while he is still playing half empty bars — it won’t be that way for long.
Choice Cuts: “Ripe for Love” and “Ripe for Love II,” “Dissonance,” “PRPLMTV”
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