Home: New Jersey & New York
Members: Brad Kleiman, Acorn Slim ~ guitars
"Saxy" Joe Braverman ~ sax
Ian ~ bass
Kevin ~ drums
Jackie Puppet have made 2021 their year to record & rock like they've been held back for too long ... which they likely have been, given they only put out a couple singles in 2020. Their bandcamp has lots of singles released this year. As of this writing May marked the last release, but these are guys that don't seem to go long without doing something either with Jackie Puppet, on their own or with some other groups. As it is, I know co-founder Brad Kleiman has been working with Dennis Young of Liquid Liquid & singer/songwriter Raymond Bally, the later who I have reviewed favorably many times for his awesomely unique style, to form the Primitive Substance collective that promotes each others work, plays on each others albums, & just enjoy the game of musical collaboration ... really a way to get their music out there, having been playing together for nearly a decade in others bands. Its via finding out about this new creative cooperative, through connecting up with Ray to find out what he was doing musically these days, that I discovered Jackie Puppet when going through Brad's extensive musical output. I love musical wormholes & following out musician's musical family trees is how I've discovered a majority of the musicians I listen to. Hint, hint, I highly recommend letting yourself wander through a musician's catalog. Being that I don't review singles or albums with less than 3 songs, which for me is the minimum to be called an EP, I'll let you explore Jackie Puppet's output on bandcamp as most of it is single releases while I share here their longer releases. I will warn you, the membership is loose & so is the music. Since forming in 2007 as a duo they have gone through a rotating door of players, making this more a collective than a band it appears. Be prepared for a little garage rock or some acoustic ramblings, & lyrics or instrumentals. Their EP NFNSD BZZNZZ (From The Bakery Bus) is one of the instrumental forays. Unpredictable is the name of Jackie's game. Very in the moment & spontaneous. Very underground unpretentious rock'n'roll. This 3 song EP was actually recorded March 2020 as a preview of things to come on the forthcoming full length Bakery Bus, thus the sub-title, from what I can figure. It appears this is also their first proper EP since 2017's The Catskills EP. Alas, they got held back from recording additional songs due to covid-19, or if anything was recorded they have left it off the album. The fact this was released a year later hints that the album never got completed & perhaps won't, leaving these 3 tracks as a window into what could have been. had the world not gotten derailed. The album description reads: "Oops. Covid. Well - here's a sample of where we were going." This hints to me that the baker has gone home. Though, for the benefit of the doubt & with a drop of encouragement, the project could still get completed. As I post this in August 2021 I've just written & published a biography of a storyteller I originally drafted in 1996, & spent the last couple years dusting it off & finishing it. Though, I essentially completely redid as I'm not the same person nor writer I was in 1996. Yet, you never know what in the vault might find life in the way you originally planned even if needs a complete facelift, as the essence of the original project is still there. Or, another example might be the Beatles when they completed the 2 John Lennon songs. That might be a more relevant example, particularly as it keeps the past more intact than I did in my book. Going back to Jackie Puppet, if this doesn't get completed, that's too bad. It's a really fun start. The band calls this a "minor masterpiece". On one hand, I don't know if I would say that, as the 3 instrumentals are musically in the same boat. They all feature a sax playing over repeated strummed chord patterns on both acoustic & electric, though closer "I Need A New Bar" also includes an edgy electric lead guitar. I think vocals would add some necessary dynamics & focus to get it to the masterpiece level. Yet, as someone whose done some modest producing for friends I'd call this a strong foundation that would be great to build upon. Its fun, energized, & offers lots of potential to work with. On the other hand, I have a feel this was very much organically composed in the moment. Speaking as a bassist having created some great stuff spontaneously with band mates, I can understand why they call it a masterpiece. Its an exalting feeling when you create something that feels & sounds good. That's a masterpiece from the artist's point of view. If that feeling spreads to the listener, than you've hit home. What else do you need? On repeated listens I was reminded of early '80's Lou Reed, but instead of Robert Quine's wild guitar playing the focus is on the sax. The lead guitar that is here has a lot of Lou's feeling in its style. Melodic, aggressive, yet not wild, a little extra kick. I'm a huge fan of Lou, so this is completely complementary as the guy oozes individuality & rawness. Lou often said his songs might sound like 3 chords, like the Ramones made famous, but he has a passing 4th chord that gives it the little jump. So many bands forget that jump, but that's the groove, he said. I feel that jump & groove when listening to Jackie Puppet. This little EP is a fascinating look at what could have been. I can imagine many places they could have taken this. I would love to do a review down the road of that completed project. While in the age of covid its good to have that sense of completion.