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Through their first three albums, the group divined a signature style–what Pitchfork described as “an expansive vision of rock ‘n’ roll, one that cherrypicks from various folk traditions: punk, rockabilly, blues, whatever they might have on hand or find in the trash.” The sound is a front-heavy, groovy, fire & brimstone punk-blues overlying a dynamic and metaphysical roots rock. On their fourth album Human Question, the Denver trio zooms out to a more vast and accessible stylistic and spiritual universe. The 38-minute thrill ride generates growth and cathartic self-reflection for audience and performer alike. If there was justice in this world, the Yawpers would be the savior that rock and roll didn’t know it was waiting for.
Following their critically acclaimed and meticulously plotted concept album Boy in a Well (set in World War I France, concerning a mother who abandoned her unwanted newborn), the Yawpers created Human Questionwith a contrasting immediacy. The album was written, rehearsed and recorded over a two-month period with Reliable Recordings’ Alex Hall (Cactus Blossoms, JD McPherson) at Chicago’s renowned Electrical Audio. The band tracked live in one room, feeding off the collective energy and adding few overdubs. Through the new approach, 10 songs connect with an organically linked attitude and style.
On Human Question lead singer and guitarist Nate Cook writes his way out of trauma, rather than wallowing in it, as was his self-destructive formula in the past. “I wanted to take a crack at using these songs as therapy, really,” Cook said. “I think I’ve always been inclined to write more towards the dregs of my psyche, and explore my depressions and trauma, rather than describe a way out.” The self-reflection engages the band’s trademark dangerous, emotionally fraught choogle, and the listener is constantly kept on edge, not knowing when to brace for a bombastic impact or lean back and enjoy the ride.
The band skillfully balances that Jekyll and Hyde formula. In “Child of Mercy” guitarist Jesse Parmet revs the engines with a disintegrating blues guitar framework, backed by a breakneck beat by new drummer Alex Koshak. Eventually, the tune whips into a cyclone of distortion and Cook’s sustained falsetto, as he howls, “Won’t you please wake me up when the night is over.” For such a raw and kinetic sound, the Yawpers are never stuck in one gear for long. They deftly navigate shifting dynamics and moods, and if you squint your ears, the Sun Studios’ Million Dollar Quartet, transmogrifies into the ghosts of Gun Club, Jon Spencer, and Bo Diddley.
“Dancing on my Knees” is the direction that Dan Auerbach could’ve taken Black Keys: raw yet poppy, outsider while mainstream, danceable while thought-provoking (lyrics include “It wasn’t what I asked for / But it’s exactly what I need / You’ve said there’s growth in agony / And we finally agree”). There are moments of blunt Stooges raw power (“Earn Your Heaven”), shaker rhythms behind ‘70s psychedelic rock (“Human Question”), and salacious boogie of Zeppelin (“Forgiveness Through Pain”). Through it all, Human Question is impossible to confuse with anything else – it’s distinctly the Yawpers.
“Man As Ghost”, “Can’t Wait”, and “Where the Winters End” reveal a softer and contemplative side, blending touches of modern Americana and folk music. In these moments of sonic respite, Cook and company display their range through acoustic guitar strums, relaxed and aired-out tempos, and big yet dialed-in vocal runs. But, no song exhibits the band’s extended capabilities like “Carry Me”, a Gospel-soul burner that builds from hushed to impassioned, with the lead singer begging for salvation in full open-throated fervor by song’s end.
Human Question isn’t meant for the meek or casual listener. It will make you dance, mosh, sing along, and dig deep into your soul. Some people lament that rock ‘n’ roll is dead. They just haven’t heard the Yawpers yet.
Elison Jackson is a garage–folk/ psychedelic rock band from Philadelphia, PA & New Haven, CT. The band has put out three records and several bedroom-demo mix-tapes since 2011. Their third LP, “Do Not Fear To Kill A Dead Man”, was released in the fall of 2013 to critical acclaim. Featuring basement organs, haunted lyrics and Neil Young-esque guitar jams, their sound has expanded significantly from its folk roots, moving forward with a strong foundation into blues, 80's analog synth, and prog-rock. Their newest record, a 5-song collection titled "Silver Sounds: Hallucinations", takes a step further in the band's sonic progression. Heavier drums, driving synth, and atmospheric bowed upright bass fill out the songs in a way the band has never achieved before.
Staying busy since their beginnings in 2010, Elison Jackson has emerged as one of the most consistent and unique bands in CT. Sharing the stage with Elvis Perkins, Akron/Family, Mystic Braves, Simone Felice and other like-minded contemporaries, the band has built a loyal following in CT and beyond. Primary songwriter and singer Sam Perduta currently resides in Philadelphia, PA, after living and basing the band out of New Haven from 2012-2015. The band plans on touring extensively in the Spring and Summer, and will be releasing "Silver Sounds: Hallucinations" on 12" record at the end of 2016. They are currently in the studio recording a follow up at the infamous "Blazone" in New Haven, CT.
"Elison Jackson has added an extra layer to their already psychedelic sound by dropping a record that resembles a psychedelic experience in of itself" - The Deli Magazine
"..evokes sepia tacked imaginary, the drawers of memory materialize in present as a mysterious revenant....as if "Time Out Of Mind" was recorded by a band of twenty-somethings in a garage: lucid madness"- Gabriele Benzing, OndaRock Italy
“With two solid full-length albums and a handful of EPs and singles now to their credit, Elison Jackson has established itself as one of Connecticut’s most consistently interesting young bands. Their most recent LP, last fall’s “Do Not Fear to Kill a Dead Man” (Telegraph Recording Company), is an assured nine-song collection of rootsy rock songs...”- Rolling Stone contributor Eric Danton, Listen Dammit
"Elison Jackson comes across as being possessed with an inherent wisdom bound by some ancient knowledge capable of evoking eerie comfort from shaking hands with the vague and wistful memories of lives past." - Drop Zone LA