Album Review—Green 15: The Jib Machine Records 15th Anniversary Compilation

by Ben Arzate

Jib Machine is an Ohio-based record company with a wide variety of artists from different genres. Established in 2004, this compilation celebrates their 15th year by collecting thirty different tracks from thirty different acts.

I had decided when I received this album to go in blind and I was surprised at how eclectic the artists were. From the first song, and the DIY look of the album, I thought it would be all punk. While that’s certainly a part of the album, it’s not the only one.

I want to first give attention to “Dragon Eye Girl” by Slammin Gladys, as I also received a copy of their single for this song. This song as well as the other two on the single are funk-infused hair metal that take me back to the kind of things that other kids’ young parents would listen to when I was over at their houses.

It’s no surprise that the band was first formed in 1989. While I’m not exactly nostalgic for that sound, I did enjoy this. Between the title song and “Hangin’ on to You,” the single shows them as excellent musicians with a great singer. The live version of “Color Me Gone” also shows they can get pretty wild when they play live. If you like the kind of metal Bill and Ted would listen to, the single is definitely worth picking up.

The other songs on the album vary, but they mostly fall under the umbrella of rock. The album opens with “Harley Girl,” a fast-paced punk song. I can’t say that it pulled me into it, this type of punk music isn’t my cup of tea, but I can certainly see fans of the genre enjoying it.

There is, however, plenty here that’s more to my taste. For example, “Cold” by Eli Fletcher is a country rock song with the kind of desperation that I like hearing in my country music. “Minister Sinister” by Pontius Pilot is a dark and brooding country song with excellent atmosphere. There’s also “Evel Kienevel and God” by Smf, a lo-fi folk song reminiscent of Daniel Johnston. My favorite song on the album is probably “The Major Fall of Minor Men” by The War Toys. This is an excellent folk song with poetic lyrics that has made me very interested in seeking out more from them.

Even as eclectic as this, there are songs that really stick out. “Old Skool X” by The Penfield Experience is a techno song straight out of the mid-90s and an enjoyable one if you have affinity for that type of music. There’s also “O Holy Night” by Philomena Gales. Yes, the Christmas standard. While Gales has a lovely voice, there’s nothing unique or interesting about her rendition of the song. This one stands out in a particularly bad way as it sounds so incredibly bland. It’s easily the worst on the album.

With 30 tracks on this album from many different genres, it’s guaranteed most who listen to it will find something to like. It works more like a sampler, as Jib Machine puts out too wide a variety of music to really pigeon-hole them as any particular kind of label, but it’s one worth picking up if you’re looking for new music. There are a few groups on here that I know I’m very interested in hearing more from.

Stereo Saturdays: Band of Skulls – Music Review

By Bob Freville

The following review originally appeared in Kotori Magazine on June 19th of 2009. It is included here as part of our retro weekend series.

“Gasoline, saccharine/I got no reason for the state I’m in/But I know what I am/They know what they are/So let me be.” So go the opening lyrics to the first brazen song I hear from Band of Skulls. And it goes on about hotels and taco bells, these are two of my favorite things, so it’s definitely for me and I think the clap stop tambourine duet bepop ‘tude of this tune is for a lot of other cats too. And it’s only a set warmer, but damn if it doesn’t throw sparks! With stomps and chants it’s got everything that says, “We are legion, I dare you!” A strong case for individuality if there ever was one.

“Fires” comes on like a bellyful of butterflies and breath mints, a star-crossed homage to that fleeting, urgent sick sensation of anticipatory love that every one of us is lucky to experience at least once or twice in our lives. The get-together of timbre, atmosphere and mood is perfectly layered, textured in cherubic background coos; This is what really sells the package, the soft and somewhat somber love potion that gives us the same progressive wind of the Sixties. This would be in good company alongside “Telstar” by The Tornadoes or “Nights in White Satin.”

This same track reminds me why I love the London Suede and why Blur never lived up to their full potential. They were on too many downers to convey the full spectrum of emotional possibility. Band of Skulls might be able to succeed with this. Sentient Rock is much different than what now passes as Emo, and that’s crystalline from hearing this sampler of tone and topic married to power strip.

“Death By Diamonds & Pearls” is either an overt tribute to The White Stripes, in musical and vocal concoction, or some producer or label rep’s take on an appropriate single-worthy entry into the batch. If it’s the former, then the end result is fluid and well-crafted and perfectly dead-on. If it’s the latter, well, that’s kind of short-changing the band’s obvious ability, but right on! It works, man. Who is to judge? Every great band had to produce something somewhat insincere to make good.

Look at Modest Mouse’s licensing their songs for bullshit commercial TV spots that have nothing to do with the substance of the material or Korn whoring themselves in underwear ads in teeny bopper magazines back in the day. Before the groundbreaking “Follow The Leader” there was “Life is Peachy,” a borderline pointless EP whose purpose was to get 90’s kids to buy the same clothing their older brothers or uncles wore in the 70’s, on the basis of a grade school play on initials (All Day I Dream About Sex). The Stones recorded several worthless records that meant shit. It kept their name prominent.

Something in my gullet speaketh: Band of Skulls will never have a problem with this. They’ll never attain prominence in the first place, not with radio programmers playing the detritus they now play. Their hope lies in satellite and kooky showcases. And thank Haile Selassie for that! There are cafes full of crunchy people ready to sway.