Review : Jason Collett - Rat a Tat Tat
PitchforkIndie-folk may typically foreground words and voices, but that doesn't mean all lyric sheets and vocal cords are created equal. For every hauntingly poetic Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) or piercingly larynx-blessed Jonathan Meiburg (Shearwater), there are a million and one singers a little too in love with their pens and pipes. Jason Collett isn't going to blow you away with his imagery, and his voice-- while sturdy and appealing-- doesn't stand out from the alt-troubadour pack. What Collett does know, however, is craftsmanship. While so many insurgent folkies treat sonics and structure as afterthoughts, Collett suffuses his music with a level of playfulness and variety that's reflective of his membership in the acclaimed indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene.
In a seeming demonstration of What Not to Do, Collett's fourth solo album, Rat a Tat Tat, is actually bookended by two songs that showcase the worst tendencies of indie-folk. On opener "Rave on Sad Songs" Collett lays on his maverick country pretensions syrupy-thick, affecting a John Prine/Terry Allen sneer to sing some ridiculously stylized stuff about tears falling in stereo and how "happiness is for amateurs." Closer "Vanderpool Vanderpool" is even worse, as Collett appears hellbent on cramming every noun Bob Dylan's ever uttered (hustlers, madames, levees, and Jerusalem all make an appearance, among many others) into a single track. Unsurprisingly, both songs feature accordion.
In between those self-indulgent missteps, however, Collett delivers a solid album that moves with confidence between breezy pop-rock and more pensive, artier endeavors. The reverbed, reggae-tinged "Lake Superior" and cheekily shuffling "Love Is a Dirty Word" posit Collett as Mellencamp 2.0, an earnest roots-rocker with a firm hold on rhythm. Meanwhile, "Love Is a Chain" yields a playful organ-and-handclaps-driven stomp as well as some genuinely engaging lyrics about a hot-and-cold relationship ("We fight and then we fuck and then we fight all over again/ It never ends")....full text
PrefixmagAs a follow-up to 2008’s Here’s To Being Here, Jason Collett’s Rat a Tat Tat was mixed by Robbie Lackritz (Feist, Jamie Lidell) and produced by Carlin Nicholson and Michael O’Brien (both members of Zeus, which has performed as Collett’s backing band since 2005). Feeding off the artistic energy of the Toronto arts scene, Canada is a heavy theme throughout Rat a Tat Tat, with track names like “Lake Superior” and “Winnipeg Winds.”...full text
InsoundVINYL FORMAT. Rat A Tat Tat took shape in a dilapidated garage in Toronto's East End (owned by Carlin Nicholson of Zeus) during the summer of 2009. In this comfy hole in the wall, surrounded by clutter of vintage instruments and recording gear held together with shoe laces, gaffer tape and indefatigable optimism, Collett worked with the duo of Carlin Nicholson and Michael O'Brien. The pair comprise one half of Collett's labelmates, Zeus, whose members have performed as Collett's backing band since the 2005 release of his acclaimed Idols of Exile album. Nicholson and O'Brien recorded and produced Rat A Tat Tat, and the album was mixed by Robbie Lackritz (Feist, Jamie Lidell). Rat A Tat Tat is Collett's follow up to his widely praised 2008 release, Here's To Being Here. The album attributes to, and trumpets the energy, of an exciting and burgeoning creative arts scene Toronto, in which Jason Collett - highly regarded as a prolific songwriter and performer - finds himself at the very center. Rat A Tat Tat shows Collett using the Canadian backdrop to further explore his roots as a national storyteller ("Lake Superior," "Winnipeg Winds," "High Summer"), and shows his knack for articulating the subtleties of human interactions and experiences ("Cold Blue Halo," "The Slowest Dance"). As well, he dives headfirst into the passions and struggles of relationships ("Rave On Sad Songs," "Love Is A Chain"). Rat A Tat Tat is a remarkable and honest example of a storyteller documenting and soundtracking his experiences and surroundings with distinct and precise ability....full text
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