Cosmo Sex School
With a hard driving rock n’ roll vibe and a punchy, to-the-point jamming style that never feels contrived nor forced, it’s anybody’s guess why J.J. & the Jackmormons have yet to experience the same level of success or recognition of so many other less talented, more manufactured “jambands.” Make no mistake though, this ain’t no noodle dancing material, or the untz-filled dance party of many of the bands in today’s scene, it’s rock n’ effing roll at its finest and most raw. It’s easy to understand where some of Jerry’s seeming disappointment comes from, with his band Little Women having been a big part of this scene since long before it even had a catchy name, and long before most of today’s hipsters were even born.
Resentment would actually be forgivable in this case, but Joseph doesn’t seem like one to sit around and mope about his problems for too long though. Instead, he seems like the type to wrestle all his demons out on stage with his own trademark brand of musical exorcism, and the life Badlandia captures just that, the joyful, the sad and the downright pissed off. It’s easy to see how this therapy, this musical purging of one’s deepest, darkest emotions appeals to his hardcore fans, as anybody who is honest with themselves about life has likely experienced many of the moods and feelings he captures in practically every song.
Hearkening back to Jerry’s Little Women roots, the band starts off “Second Skin,” which Joseph co-wrote with his longtime pals Widespread Panic, in the realm of rocking whiteboy reggae, with but with a twist. That twist comes mostly in the form of Junior Ruppel’s wicked bassline, which sounds exactly like the Fugazi classic “Waiting Room,” but works so well in this context that it’s almost hard to believe what you’re hearing before the band eventually finds their way to the truly rocking climax. Special guest Jennifer Conlee-Drizos, wife of drummer Steve Drizos, and keyboardist for indie rock darlings The Decemberists plays the perfect role on this and many other tunes, never really taking any huge solos, but always there in exactly the right places, bolstering the overall sound and taking the music to the next level.
An interesting liner note that certainly makes sense after a few listens is Joseph’s revelation that Badlandia is “the sound of a band who thought they were playing their last shows ever.” I have no idea why that was, or what, if anything has changed since, but here’s to hoping that they were dead wrong.