Jack Name

Light Show

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Jack Name's real name is John Webster Johns and he's buds with Ariel Pink. He can also found onstage playing guitar with neo-psych cool guys White Fence whenever they come out from hiding. Add Brian Eno and Alvin & the Chipmunks to those two names and you have a half-decent idea where Jack Name's sound is located. His debut album, Light Show, is a maddeningly fun and weird experience that swerves into nonsense at times but never in a way that makes you want to trash your headphones in disgust. Instead, the odd song structures, the dizzying stylistic shifts, and the strange sonic choices draw you deeper as you try to make sense of it all. His predilection for pitching his voice to Chipmunk levels could have been annoying, but since it happens during insanely catchy songs like "Do the Shadow" or the super-hooky miniature-sized Krautrock of "Out of Sight," it's easy to be charmed. When he drops a singalong ballad in the middle of a batch of squirmy, skittering tracks, the result could be head-scratching, but the song, "Pure Terror," is catchy enough that the relatively straightforward approach seems weird in context. Elsewhere, he creepily conjures up the ghost of Tom Waits on the oozy late-night ballad "Trans America," jumps and twists like a damaged art patient on "It's Right There," and basically sounds like a kid running wild after hours in a candy shop, hopped up on sugar and full of wild ideas. It makes Light Show a slightly off-balance, totally creepy album, but also one that's worth giving a chance. At first, the weirdness may seem a little much, but as it goes along the songcraft, energy, and ideas will likely win over all but the stodgiest indie rockers.

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