Monday, April 6, 2009
Normally when you hear that a band breaks up or changes its lineup directly after recording new material, the resulting output is a bit of a mess. As the band starts to sense the end, artistic direction is push and pulled to the point the band’s fabric is ripped beyond repair.
In the case of Immaculate Machine, with Kathryn focusing on her countless other projects (New Pornographers, Jon-Rae Fletcher) and Luke retiring from his duties on skins, High on Jackson Hill really plays like a swan song for IM as a trio and the passing of the torch to Brooke Gallup. Without focusing too much into the dramatic change in the band's lineup moving forward – IM has become more of a family band with the support of his Brooke's sister and his girlfriend, a new drummer and guitarist – it’s easy to just listen to High on Jackson Hill for its countless rewards.
The 70’s swagger of He’s a Biter, straight ahead rock riff of Neighbours Don't Mind and infectious hook and chorus of Thank Me Later really infuse the record with energy and pave the way for more subdued, orchestral efforts like I Know It's Not as Easy or And it Was. Honest emotion pours out of the back porch, Kathryn led You Destroyer, but some how the beautiful acoustic number stand along side the swanky, sultry feel of the single Sound the Alarms.
IM has been playing music for a long time – three albums and a couple of EPs – but this record feels like it might have been the most fun to record (even though it’s the least poppy in my opinion). Instead of being concerned with audience, High on Jackson Hill shows the freedom of recording sessions where no idea was discarded without giving it a try first. The band even escaped the pressures and gloss of the studio by recording the songs in a basement instead, letting the noises of the neighborhood and grit of the sessions shape the sound.
I'm not sure what's going to happen with Immaculate Machine. Brooke's diverse musical background and the rotating cast of characters make it impossible to predict what direction they may follow, but High on Jackson Hill is a nice transition that helps you remember why you like the band so much and still gets you excited for what's next.