Jack-O & the Tearjerkers

Bad Moon Rising

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Another in the epic list of bands of underground garage rock legend Jack Yarber, the Tearjerkers have the same soulful mix of scuzzy rock and blues as any of his other projects. The stomping R&B of "White Lie, Black Eye" opens it up, combining the attitude of the Oblivians with the sensitivity of Cheap Trick's Robin Zander. "Stupid Cupid" has the same approach, but with a catchy '70s-type rock riff and a great dual guitar solo. Then the album opens up to a more twisted side, with the Stooges-esque "Wire Tapper Calling" and "Dollar to Death" sounding like a less distorted, keyboard-happy Ramones. Much like the Compulsive Gamblers or several other of his bands, what makes this so special is Yarber's interpretation of classic song styles, mixed with an uncanny ability to fill each self-deprecating lyric with a complete range of emotion and intensity. The psycho-country of "Bank, Gun, Jail" provides a great outlaw story, with Yarber's typically creative and at times humorous lyrics ("She was my Bonnie, I was her Clyde"). Other standouts include the frantic, upbeat crunch of "Earthquake Date" and the Western twang and futility of "living behind a tin badge" on "Devil's Border." Ten of the 12 tracks are originals, and Bad Mood Rising closes with "D.O.A. Blues," an unusual but solid garage-blues cover of a Van Halen song. Yarber's honesty and delivery, not to mention his appreciation of a well-written song, somehow make this scattered collection of songs sound timeless and essential.

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