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Published: 2007/01/21
by Randy Ray

Keep Your Head – One Eyed Jack

Whenever good ole jamband determination appears to be in short supply, along comes a stream of new releases to prove that the genre can still produce solid albums. Well, that isnt really the case in 2007, just yet, but it sure seems like a hope-filled bag.
On that bright note, that isnt to say that Im referencing One-Eyed Jacks fourth release in their decade and a half existence as perfect or anything remotely associated with that anal retentive phrase. Keep Your Head has a derivative, been there/down that ancient sound that harkens back to the sunny ’70s days of yore. Somehow, in that pithy kneejerk description, is a kernel of truth about the entire genre that began with the Grateful Dead and appears to have died on a lonely New York highway with the Phish of Futures’ Past. But hold on, oh wise Hippie Nostradamushe speakth too soon upon the demise of said label. Time doesnt exist in this muddy field and thats why any sort of redefinition of the carefully honed, torn-and-frayed, wavy gravy hemline seems pointless. Why rename a sandless, hourglass brand that will continue to endure with or without its current flock of hairy chick armpits, unkempt wook beardos, college heads and weekend hippies?
Case in point: Keep Your Head. (And if youre keeping score, One-Eyed Jacks was the only film directed by Marlon Brandoa veritable beaut and a good one to watch on a late night, but I dont think the band is in any way referencing that legendary rebels lone directorial chestnut.)
The songs are blended in several interesting tight, albeit obtuse, formations ranging from the hard-edged whiskey and reefer foot stompers, Breathe In and Euria (the listener can almost see the twin guitar attack on stage as beers slosh in the bleary-eyed mosh pit) to a welcome bit of homegrown mellowtude with What You Find, featuring Buddy Cage from New Riders of the Purple Sage on steel guitar to the trance-like swamp rock of Grow to the scenic psychedelic trip of the title track, the downers and booze groove of On My Back, the depressingly defiant hammerlocking of It Aint Easy (because it aint, ya understand), followed short thereafter by the set closing Set Me Free, which is about as new fangled JAHmaican music, mahn as one can expect from the East Coast Kind.
More than anything, Keep Your Head promotes a self-confident swagger that never strays too far from its root. Which, obviously, is both good and limitinga nod back to when music not only jammed but also rocked, coming from a shitty, bleak audience-deprived studio, taboot. Ones reliance on prior templates can negate fresh inspiration. Jam is also supposed to wander in the Great Unknown. This may be a simple concept but one that needs to continue promotion in this thing we call jamband life. Seek it out where you may and leave your trendy threads and post-9/11 ideals at home. This aint no yuppie sound, man; this is the sound of one band clapping to that eternal buzzpre-landslide.

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