Photo: William Croxton / Courtesy of Tell All Your Friends PR

Damn Jackals Get Dangerous With “Crooked Castle” (premiere)

Brooklyn quintet Damn Jackals give us the shivers on "Crooked Castle" from upcoming their full-length.

Brooklyn quintet Damn Jackals leans into the garage rock/punk aesthetic with the kind of enthusiasm your uncle Jack saved up for his post-work Hungry Man TV dinner and a six-pack of Schlitz. Drawing on the melodic but attitudinal punk of Johnny Thunders, Iggy & the Stooges as well as Television, the group releases its album Crooked Castle Vol.1 on May 25.

The album, and its impending successor, Crooked Castle Vol.2, is named after the outfit‘s recording studio, nestled deep in the inner chambers of lead vocalist/guitarist Beau Croxton’s Rhinecliff, New York home. There, he and Max Motchan (guitar), Sean Burke (guitar/keys/vocals), Matt Lion (bass) and Mike Goehler (drums), settled in to work on the nine-song release, a record that seems poised to bring rock ‘n’ roll back to the streets come Summer 2018. (That the Jackals frequently come armed with a three-piece horn section featuring Carter Yasutake (David Byrne & St. Vincent, Charles Bradley), Jason Disu (David Byrne & St. Vincent, LCD Soundsystem), and Noah Dreiblatt (Blitz the Ambassador) should probably tip you off to the fact that these cats mean business when they practice their mean business.

Just how mean is this business? You can hear the meanness, the toughness, oozing from the grooves of the track “Crooked Castle”. With eerie, AM-radio style keyboards, a haunting, fuzzed-out vocal that asks us to imagine what happens when those sweet, sweet kids from down the block stumble on hard times and become rock-obsessed vampires, there’s probably no better introduction to what Croxton, Goehler and the others get up to in the dark of the night. It’s as dark and seductive as any of those movies about the dangerous, leather-clad dude who moves in next door to your girlfriend and steals her heart without wanting to and without, really, trying. That the track burns and churns its way to an exhaustive, life-altering climax only sweetens the deal and piques the interest of our interest.

Does that sound like hyperbole? Well, sure. But if rock ‘n’ roll can’t stir our emotions to have emotions, what’s the point, eh?

Speaking about the track, Croxton said, “That song, in particular, always stood out to me because there was no clear genre. The melody and chords came together at the same time. I wrote about hardships, desolation and demons from the past versus our recording process for this album. We definitely were trying to get some Dick Dale surf rock vibes which would normally be upbeat but it’s a pretty melancholy and haunting song. Our dear friend Don Laine added some spooky synths to take this thing to a whole other level: Phantom of the Opera, surf goth/prog? I have no idea! But it’s definitely our ‘riding off into that neon sunset’ song and has become quite a beast to play live and a very fitting closing track.”

The Band had Big Pink; the Beatles, Abbey Road; Damn Jackals deserve Crooked Castle and all the delights it may afford them.

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