Do You Mind If I Wear A Clown Mask?
Independent release, 2015
REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/06/2015
There are a lot of potentially misleading clues about this album. First, no one in this band is named Jackie. Instead, this is a trio of guys from the D.C. area who have all been in numerous bands, the most notable being Girl Loves Distortion and Lethal Park. Second, the cover isn't what it seems either. This is not kids' music or a joke band by any means. On the contrary, Jackie And The Treehorns is a seriously great rock band.
The best indication as to what Jackie And The Treehorns is about is where this album was recorded, that being at Inner Ear with Don Zientara, who was behind the knobs of albums from legends like Dag Nasty, Minor Threat, or more recently Joe Lally's solo work.
The album starts with “I, So, Like, Believe You,” a moody rocker with '80s post-punk feelings and an overall genre defying approach that brings to mind both Ted Leo and Wire. “So Many Ways (To Turn You On)" follows and moves from hushed into an anthemic display of fuzzed out power and crashing percussion; it wouldn't be out of place sandwiched between a Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana video circa 1993. “Information Overload,” the longest song on the album, builds from a jumping bass line and is a more playful alternative rocker, showing a strong ability to engage the listener for seven minutes.
At the halfway point, "In No Condition To Explain" isn't far off from the mid-'80s Dischord Records label roster and could be a B-side Gray Matter song, and the sparse "The Life And Times Of Mr. Happy" sounds anything but happy. Instead, it moves with a tense energy and plaintive tone. It's an interesting diversion from the loud, propulsive rock of the rest of the album, illustrating a skilled diversity.
Near the end, the twinkling aspect of the indie-rific "Dems Fightin Werds" makes an already fantastic listen even greater, and the closer "I Heart Myself" is a reflective, moody exit with louder ebullient moments between calm melodies and droning guitar work.Sometimes the best things come in deceiving packages. Do You Mind If I Wear A Clown Mask? is a perfect example of this and one of the best albums this year that, unfortunately, not enough people will hear.