Allow me to get this little factoid out of the way first, I have been listening to Nathan Ellis projects ever since he joined Coalesce; The Casket Lottery (Ellis next band) introduced me to and gave me a great appreciation for much more mellow, but still challenging, music. When I heard that Ellis now is playing with a new group of guys in Jackie Carol, I considered myself officially interested. Now, listening to the debut Jackie Carol album, Check Check, it does not disappoint in the least; actually, there are quite a few surprises as it plays. The odd time signatures and angular sound of The Casket Lottery are gone and replaced by more straightforward melodies while still maintaining Ellis vocals and guitar sound.
A fitting opening song serves as a great opening track from this new band, "Hi, My Name is Jackie " is a rousing song that really kicks the album into gear right off the bat and then the song becomes more mellow as it comes to a close and fades into the next track. "Faith (I Don't Even Own a Gun)" is a pretty acoustic ditty that has some of Ellis best vocals that he has ever done (Although I do not advocate his dropping all of his projects to do his version of acoustic singer-songwriter schmaltz). "No Fiction" has another excellent vocal melody, the song just kind of lacks that monster hook that would make it a classic pop song; but, it does come that close to being a great song though (it also shows how important a great hook is to a pop song). The call and response vocals that The Casket Lottery has down to a science pop up in "Hospital" and augment the bouncing rhythm in an infectious manner.
The beefy sound of "Time to Panic" shows that Jackie Carol can stomp down on the distortion pedals every now and then to add color and depth to the sound as well as brings the shouts of "If you want it, come and get it" to your attention. "Don't Call" may take the first prize as my favorite song on the album with its syrupy vocals and catchy hook; it makes me incessantly tap my foot while the song is playing. The closing track is a total pull at your heart strings, died in the wool love song; you know the type that people secretly like but are kind of ashamed to admit that fact because it is such a blatant love song, good stuff either way.
Check Check is a real good debut album and, if it is the first of many albums, is a portent of good things to come from this four-piece. It has its weak points that kind of let the album drag at points, but there are a bunch of good songs on the record. Jackie Carol puts up a simple pop rock album that is a nice shot in the arm; if modern radio actually played decent music, this would definitely find its way there. Even with its foibles, Check Check is definitely worth checking out and listening to a few times.
7.1 / 10
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