It's hard not to think of Jacky Boy as a quintessentially "midwestern" band. The core members, Steve Marino, Mark Edlin, and Stone Irr, all live smack in the middle of the heartland: Bloomington, Indiana. Their debut album is called On Good Terms With Everyone You Know. They harmonize like choir boys on the first track, "New Friend". They know exactly who they are: nice guys, and great musicians, who've crafted a massive and intimate rock record.
On first listen, what stands out most are Steve Marino's lyrics. There's pathos and balance; he never drifts too far toward the wild desperation of emo or the cocksure selfishness of pop rock. Steve's words sit in that uncomfortable middle space, where the speaker knows every fucked-up situation is neither the end of the world nor entirely someone else's fault.
I mean, check this out:
"It’s okay it didn’t work / It’s okay that we moved on / And I’m glad that we’re still friends / It’s just weird when it creeps back up again" ("Hear You").
That's what a breakup really feels like. It's not fire and desperation forever, it can't be - not for real people. At some point you're left picking up the pieces, some good, some bad, and trying your best to move on. There aren't many songwriters deft enough to capture that truth. Marino does it over and over again.
We shouldn't forget drummer Mark Edlin and bassist Stone Irr though; they've crafted a driving rhythm section that launches every single song, except the first and last, headlong into the verse. There's no build-up, no need for a calculated intro. Why wait?
Listen to the punchy drums on "Lease Year" and hear how Edlin injects the song with complex patterns that fit seamlessly. His double-triplet hi-hat on the chorus is absolute perfection. Or consider the tonally-perfect, reverb-laden stick rhythm on the first verse of "Hear You", matching the lyrics: "When it gets lonely / And you catch a low feeling." Edlin's sparse beat perfectly mirrors that desolation.
No song better exemplifies Jacky Boy's immediacy and intimacy than "Down". In less than a second, with a slick guitar slide, they launch into a sludgy churn, driven by Stone Irr's bass. Then, half a minute later, over an almost heavy-metal instrumental, Irr provides etherial cooing. Only moments after, Stone harmonizes through the chorus as he and Marino sing: "Down again / At least it only took so long to know / I’m wrong again." The chorus is gigantic.
In the end, those widescreen moments are what stick with you. Over the course of 11 songs, Jacky Boy present an album that simply doesn't shy away; they chase the emotion, the sound, and the songwriting wherever it might lead. As a result, the album feels deeply familiar, deeply personal, and yet still unique.
Do yourself a favor and give it a listen.
Mark Edlin: Drums/Percussion/Vocals
Stone Irr: Bass/Vocals
Steve Marino: Guitar/Vocals
Kurt Friedrich: Keys/Piano
Recorded by Kyle Houpt
Mixed and mastered by Mike Bridavsky
Tracked, mixed, and mastered at Russian Recording in Bloomington, IN in fall/winter 2016
Cover photo by Anna Powell Teeter
Layout by Aaron Denton