So they’re from Houston. You’d never know. The semi-anthology that is All Good Things aims to highlight the works of a band that has since dispersed and never really made much of a name for themselves outside of the Texas area. Unlikely. Not that the material is sub-par, or worthless, but there is nothing that’s going to make you pack up and move to Houston and start picketing for the folks to play one more gig.
Essentially, what we’ve got here is a quasi-funk approach to Texas style rock and pop. Think Replacements as filtered through an Old 97’s mentality. Got it? Maybe not. Perhaps the reason is because All Good Things at times comes across like a Blink 182 effort, a full out guitar slamming nerdy punk affair, too content with appearance and decibels, and not enough concerned with content. It’s a common enough problem, but for a “career” retrospective, it won’t fly. Perhaps their catalogue has some ingenious, thought provoking songs, but these all seem to run together in an endless barrage of songs that all sound related in a weird, West Virginia kind of way. In short, it’s a little cramped in the world of alterna-rock these days, and there doesn’t seem to be room for Jessica Six.
Not that they’re not trying. “Anne Mars” is as a good a Replacements song as Westerberg could ever muster, but it’s not 1984 anymore. This stuff is old hat. It’s one thing to reinvent the wheel; it’s another to modify it successfully. It’s hard to attack derivative songs, but it’s even harder not to when you figure that there are other ways to get around. Case in point: “Alpine” and “A Wind to Shake the Stars” scream like Foo Fighters demos, but never really take flight. The intent is visible, but the results are lacking.
So, if your music collection has a spot saved for punk bands not big to classify as such, than maybe Jessica Six is for you. The formula is there, clearly laid, out, and the execution, at least in that realm, is nearly flawless. In their own way, many songs like “Newport Millionaire” and “Swinging Naturals” are endearing and innocent, but they ain’t Soylent Green. Or even a Big Mac. But go back and time and release these songs in 1982, and we might have a revolution. If only it were that easy.
// Notes from the Road
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