Happy Jawbone Family Band

Happy Jawbone Family Band

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Falling somewhere between the drug-addled innocence of Smile-era Brian Wilson, the Dada-infused absurdity of Bongwater, and the erudite, slacker melodiousness of Titus Andronicus, the first hi-fi outing from the Brattleboro, Vermont-based collective sounds exactly like what an album with song titles such as "I Have to Speak with Rocky Balboa" and "Hans Christian Andersen’s 'The Little Mermaid'” would suggest. The group's second long-player to be released by colorful, Brooklyn-based indie label Mexican Summer (a compilation of the band's early lo-fi material called Tastes the Broom was issued a few months prior), the eponymous 11-track set plays out like a Technicolor fever dream powered by Red Bull and Elephant 6 LPs. Populated by big, ramshackle pop numbers like "Everybody Knows about Daddy," "Can't You Hear Me Ticking," and "D.R.E.A.M.I.N'," all of which manage to sound both infantile and emotionally engaged -- like they were recorded in a high school gymnasium during spirit week by a gang of overachieving art students -- the record's relentless energy feels cut from the same cloth as early Danielson Famile albums like Tell Another Joke at the Ol' Choppin' Block and Fetch the Compass Kids, without all of the religious zeal. It's fun, fruity, fearless, and sometimes annoying, but never dull. It won't take long for listeners to decide whether or not the Happy Jawbone Family Band's first stab at the mainstream is their cup of tea, as the group's nervy energy, angular melodies, and surrealist storytelling is as idiosyncratic as it gets, but there's no denying the mad joy that went into creating it.

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