Wednesday, August 27

The Who + Ted Leo = Jet Age and the Rock Album of the Summer

Artist: Jet Age
Album: What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?

Comments: It takes sometimes just a few members to make a massive sound come to life. There are a lot of bands out there that drag tons of people into the studio to achieve their sound. Bands then drag tons of people on stage to replicate this sound live. Not many bands stripped down that can really rock an album anymore. That being said, a few diamonds in the rough come cropping up here and there.

A late night listen to a local college radio station has brought to attention a great three-piece band that can fill your headphones with a cacophony of sounds that rain embers of sheer rock goodness upon those lucky enough to get a chance to hear about them. This very band is Silver Spring, Maryland's Jet Age. Their second LP entitled What Did You Do In the War, Daddy? is a joyous celebration of what a rock band can do with just three members.

That's not the only revelation the band brings to the table. They bring a very stripped down garage rock sound that is honest, bold and thought provoking. The record is a rock opera of sorts. It's about a disgruntled middle aged American man who decides to become a suicide bomber after such hate and disdain for his own bland life and his indifferent government push him to the edge. Sounds like a stretch, right? Well this is probably the weakest element of the album. It might be an over ambitious idea, but if you didn't know that was the concept, you would say it's just a regular run-of-the-mill rock and roll record. And that is really all it is. The concept isn't what makes the album good. It's the fury and passion in the belly of the music and lyrics that drive it to excellence.

The record starts off with "Ladies Don't Cry Tonight" (as well as reprises this theme at the end) which sounds a hell of a lot like a cross between Ted Leo and Pete Townshend. In fact, the whole album sounds as if The Who (sans Daltry) grew up in the late 70s ad started their band during the post-punk movement. It's stripped down, gritty, yet has all the grandiosity that rock and roll ever had. And it's in achieving this with three pieces that really amazes me from listen to listen. A song like "O, Calender" with it's super fast guitar passages, calculated drum smashing and awesome lyrical content build and pulsate with a basement recording quality all it's own.

"Dumb" is a track that will captivate its audience with it's audacious and sinister structure. It's cynical lyric is a telling tale of a common feeling among disheartened American citizens trying to figure out what is going on and wrong in this country. And without being too in your face preachy is still a noteworthy rock song of rebellion, but a rebellion that is one that the rebel questions. Does this make any sense? Even if it doesn't, it's damn fine rock music.

It doesn't take a lot to immerse yourself in the music of The Jet Age. Not much has changed from their debut, Breathless. The concept behind What Did You Do In The War, Daddy? is about it. It's a theme tying together some amazing rock tunes. Maybe it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, even though on the band's website there is a step-by-step reveal of the narrative. It's less of a rock opera and more of a string of rock and roll songs leafed together by a common sentiment many Americans are having. Disillusionment. And if the means of this sentiment is through a furiously exciting rock and roll album, then so be it. If not for nothing, it's a refreshingly great rock album executed with precision by just three members. Bass, Guitar/Vocals and drums. No frills attached rocking.

I can't stress enough that this is something that breathes life into a musical atmosphere that is littered with bands that rely on production rather than straight up quality musicianship/song crafting.

- by Paul Tsikitas

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Key Tracks: O, Calender, Dumb, False idols, Maybe Loves a Transmission

Buy, Steal, Skip: Buy

7 comments:

Pete said...

Thanks for the great write-up! Out of curiosity, what station did you hear us on?

Pete (drums)

Pete said...

And one other thing: the album title is, What Did You Do During The War, Daddy?

Nathan said...

Pete,

Sorry about the album title error! It'll be fixed once I get off work today.

As far as what radio station the writer heard you on, you'd have to ask him. You can contact him through his blog "In the Wake of Poseidon." Since we are Philly based and I know the dude personally, it might have been WXPN. But again, you'd be better off asking him.

You guys sound like a rockin' gang of dudes. I'll be picking up a copy of your album ASAP.

-Mr. Dogg

Paul Tsikitas said...

It actually was the Princeton Radio station WPRB 103.3. I first heard your song "Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Lose" and immediately downloaded your record from iTunes. Keep up the kick ass work. Sorry for screwing up the album title. I'm kind of an idiot but at least the music is kickass.

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