Monday, September 13, 2010

The Vinyl District Takeover | Jump Back Jake

It’s a crowded morning at TVD HQ, let me tell you...

As mentioned earlier today, Autumn isn’t merely for falling leaves, but dropping LPs—and one we and our friends at Ardent Music would like to put on your radar is the new EP from Jump Back Jake, ‘Call Me Your Man’ which hits your local record store shelves tomorrow, 9/14.

Jump Back Jake, aka Jake Rabinbach (who also plays lead guitar in Francis and the Lights) formed JBJ back in 2006 after jumping from Brooklyn to Memphis. The new EP is in fond memory of James Luther Dickinson, Willie Mitchell, Jay Lindsay, and Alex Chilton who all in some manner inform the recording.

As such, we’ve brought in guest reviewer Benjamin Popper for a proper review of ‘Call Me Your Man’ in advance of spending the week with Mr. Rabinbach (in addition to Those Darlins!)

TVD: we’re all sorts of taken over this week... —Ed.

The hard driving drums that open Jump Back Jake’s new EP, Call Me Your Man, don’t try to do too much. When the rest of the band jumps in a few bars later, the contours of a small recording studio emerge from the sound. It’s tight, focused, full of momentum. Jump Back starts singing, but the cadence is more relaxed then his older material. I think immediately of Kris Kristofferson when he gets to that line, “I’m sleeping in the next room doll / And all my shirts smell like you”. It’s understatement with an undercurrent, simmering on top of some rock and roll.

Where have all the horns gone? I remember Jake proudly rounding up aging Memphis brass, dragging them out of their retirement kicking and screaming, charming them with grand marnier and an unabashed love for the obscure records they played on decades ago. But the well curated soul sound that powered his first record, Brooklyn Hustle / Memphis Muscle, is over. And frankly I don’t miss it.

That Jake can still be found. The murderous metal riffs on Rose Colored Coffin (track 4) fall right into “I got a Loooovveee,” sung with the tone and melisma of a juke joint regular. But instead of trying to produce a modern soul record, Jump Back is putting those tools to work on compositions that defy easy categorization. There is something of Tom Waits in this track, a spooky gypsy, collecting the odds and ends of American music and stitching them up into an ill fitting suit that scares the women as much as it turns them on.

Records inform one another, and Jake’s new single, King of Romance, makes this new album make a lot of sense. “I remember when we first met,” he sings on that track, over a beat that could have been borrowed from Clipse. “And I took you down to Mississippi/ To see the cotton and the old cities/ Where it still looks like th 50s.” The cadence here is so startling, delivered half speaking with a rhyme scheme reminiscent of Craig Finn. And because of that, that distance from Memphis, from Stax, from soul arrangements and the rest, Jump Back’s love for the south comes across even stronger.

This music has excised the ghosts of influence. What makes the new record so exciting is not how good the musicians are, or Jake’s voice, those have always been good. It’s that he’s doing something novel, something that points forward more than back. It must be all that touring, the constant motion, the distance that makes the heart grow fonder, the pen sharper and the guitar sing.

Benjamin Popper
is a journalist living in Brooklyn, NY. He has written for Rolling Stone, Vice, Men's Vogue, the Daily Beast, New York Observer, and the Memphis Flyer.

Jump Back Jake - Call Me Your Man (Mp3)
Approved for download!

Stream the complete EP right here.

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