Review : Immaculate Machine - High on Jackson Hill
PrefixmagBritish Columbian indie darlings, Immaculate Machine, have been making waves in the Canadian pop scene over the past several years. Comprised of the songwriting efforts of Brooke Gallupe and Kathyrn Calder (New Pornographers), High on Jackson Hill is the kind of record indie-pop wet dreams are made of. Recorded in Gallupe’s basement featuring production from Colin Stewart (Mountain, Destroyer), the songs are filled with undeniable substance and the ambition to help them rise to the same tier as their Canadian counterparts....full text
MusicomhWe've been a little unkind to Immaculate Machine in the past, labelling High On Jackson Hill's predecessor, Fables, with the most dismissive of terms in a reviewer's vocabulary: beige. As a band that specialise in pouring on the sunny charm, it is no doubt their fate to be considered the soggy lettuce in the hamburger of life by some. Going by track titles like I Only Love You For Your Car alone, this, their fifth album, promises to be a whole lot edgier than previous efforts.
Is it? Well, yeah, sort of. Kinda. Maybe. If you asked Immaculate Machine themselves, you'd probably get the shuffling of shy and embarrassed indie feet in response. It is certain, at least, that the sound of the band has changed somewhat, though this is due to personnel issues....full text
PitchforkHigh on Jackson Hill comes a bit less than two years after Immaculate Machine's Fables, whose minor charms came from the way it filtered gentle advice through cute cautionary tales (and, let's not forget, the positively charming Kathryn Calder, a touring member of the New Pornographers). Hill opens with "Don't Build the Bridge", which links the two records nicely. Brooke Gallupe admonishes someone he deems is making a possibly risky social move: "Don't build the bridge, if you don't want to let the riff raff over." It's a sincere enough sentiment, but it also sets an precedent for the rest of the album. Gallupe has mostly taken over the reins of the band-- Calder provides background vocals and gets the spotlight on one song, "You Destroyer"-- and the fruits of his solo stewardship, as represented on "Bridge", can leave a bit of a bitter taste, when they leave a taste at all.
If Fables was an angel on your shoulder whispering advice, about a third of Jackson Hill sits between the poles of doomsday forecasts and caustic reprimands. "Sound the Alarms" is an acoustic march led by Gallupe to warn anyone within earshot that "we're at the dead end of everything," because his generation has lost all of its good ideas. Gallupe tells us on "He's a Biter" exactly where those ideas have gone: they're dead, having been "bitten" by "downtown loft vampires." "Biter", unsurprisingly, doubles as Gallupe's attempt to draw lines around appropriate aesthetic behavior. "There are some who lead and some who make it look as though they've led," he teaches us, before striking out at those who "Photoshop themselves into the credits when they can." Perhaps a bit ironically, "Biter" is Hill's most reverent bit of pastiche, a direct line to Marc Bolan's groovy Slider-period electric doo-wop. "You Got Us Into This Mess" could gloss on another album as a broad political statement, but here, a line like "It could have gone my way on any other day" is most likely very personal. And kind of selfish, too, but not as much as "Thank Me Later", which broadcasts Gallupe's healthy egotism in its title alone....full text
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