Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jet Black Berries EP (2009)

JBB 2009 EP

“Come Join Our Dance” ,opens Welcome to My World the first new song by The Jet Black Berries released since 1988. That opening line is kind of interesting to me because I know that one of the last songs that they were working on before the JBB’s called it quits in ’88 was called—Come Join Our Dance. The line is not only picking up where the band left off, but also a new invite to their rebirth.

The Rochester New York band is back and ready to push forward on a musical journey that started in 1977 when Gary Trainer and Kevin Patrick started a band called New Math and built a punk scene around a bar called Scorgies. New Math musically started as a punked out Kinks like unit and grew darker and more psychedelic until they collapsed in 1984.

That would be the end of the story, only Gary had started working on a Gram Parson meets William S Burroughs Space Western concept album called Sundown on Venus. The core the last New Math line up reformed and changed their name to Jet Black Berries. Sundown landed on the Pink Dust label and the Return of the Living Dead soundtrack and put out two more albums before calling it a day.

Now they are back, albeit with a new singer and a updated sound. Their new EP, featuring Welcome to My World and new versions of two New Math songs (American Survival and Ominous) has just been released in advance of a new full length due out next spring.

As a fan of their original recording, I was a little hesitant about the EP, but I’ve given it a number of spins and am left wanting more. Welcome to My World is a driving hard edged slightly psychedelic tune. American Survival was a comment on the survival movement of the 1980s, and the greed and fear of the paranoid extreme edge of those who worried about the end of the world.

Ominous is the most changed from the original. The 1980s version was a dark, direct, clear and stark warning that there is something out there. This version is more atmospheric, hazy, and less assured. It takes the fear and unease of the original and makes it more mysterious and otherworldly. On that count it works well, and fits well with the newest version of the JBB sound.

The EP is forerunner to a full length slated for release in the spring. I’ve heard a couple of the other new songs that they are working on and hope that they will continue to mine their old tunes as well as writing new ones. The EP is available as a digital download from iTunes and at local record shops in the Rochester New York area.

Jet Black Berries on Myspace

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