Reviewers in the modern age are at a distinct disadvantage. Rock and roll is a spectator sport and some bands were just meant to be seen live. In other words, their music is difficult to translate to a digital download or even a CD for that matter. Jaggermouth is a five piece band from Charlotte, NC who I wish I could see live before I write this review. In listening to their sophomore release “Synthetic Me” I hear flashes of true brilliance in a sea of monotony. Many of the songs on the album sound eerily familiar and are not distinguished enough to be truly innovative. I am sure that played live, the songs have infinitely more personality and greater interest. As I said, however, I hear flashes of brilliance even in these tedious compositions.
The bio of the band talks about how they pulled themselves out of the slums of Charlotte to create “catchy melodies, witty lyrics, driving rhythms, and survival of the fittest attitude”. Great verbiage for a band bio but how much of that story is true and how much is designed to put a context to their music? Jaggermouth does bring together a group of talented musicians who truly do rock the house down. Nic Pugh and Nick Martinez front the band with dual guitars who play very well off each other and keep the band focused. T.J. Banks and Jake Porter form the rhythm section that keeps the band anchored and Matt Wheeler’s vocals, though sometimes homogeneous, do provide an interesting counterpoint to the wailing guitars and driving rhythms.
I hear a lot of influences in this band ranging from Ted Nugent to The Black Keys. What I don’t hear is a truly original take on the songs they have written. I get the angry young man aspect of their “out of the slums” story but I would rather hear an honest and authentic composition born from this upbringing rather than a forced representation of who they think they ought to be.
Uncle Duke; a.k.a. Rob Penland is the producer and host of "The Mad Music Asylum" a 4 hour weekly syndicated radio show and now a 24 hour streaming internet station.