Jar of Jam Ton of Bricks
(2009, Happy Jack Rock Records)
In 2009, Robert Pollard teamed up with Australian indie-rock icon Richard Davies of Cardinal and The Moles. Following the side-project mold, Davies recorded all the most of the instrumentation himself, recruiting several Bostonians in the process. Pollard added vocals melodies, and lyrics. According to press release, Pollard did let Davies take the vocal leads on 2 tracks, and allowed 2 additional tracks to remain as instrumental segway pieces.
Regarding additional musicianship on the record, Davies recruited David Minehan (The Neighborhoods), Malcolm Travis (Bob Mould's Sugar) and Stephen Brodsky (Cave-In) plays second to Richard Davies' recorded work.
The following tracks are all rated, regardless of Pollard influence. In short, Jar Of Jam Ton Of Bricks is a quit enjoyable LP with little surface creative bickering for face time.
Stroke Newington Bilizkreig- 3 Harmless, short. Moody, subtle instrumental opener.
Don't Be A Shy Nurse- 4 Quaint, acoustic number. Pollard's melody is subtle and quite beautiful. Extremely pensive, reminiscent of the track "Key Losers" off Tonics and Twisted Chasers.
Nude Metropolis- 4 Minor, yet triumphant, pop song with some kick. Pollard delivers a soaring melody over this repetitive, declarative organ accented cut. Pollard's vocals and melody really carry this fay tune.
You Had To Be There- 3 Pollard hands the torch over to Richard Davies on this one, and agreed to let him keep his haunting vocals. An acoustic number, this song is an extremely subtle, attic sounding recording. Pollard adds a hint of backing vocals for good measure.
Grapes Of Wrath- 4 Triumphant guitar strums, Davies again handles vocal duties on this song. Has an '80s college rock feel on the verses. The choruses are restrained, but can grow on you.
Sudden Storms Are Normal- 2 Wind-up music-box type acoustic, tick-tock rhythm plucked. Ambient organ provides backbone structure, as Pollard bellows his vocals that almost fit. The song feels a little incomplete here, but nearly executed.
Zeppelin Commander- 2 Fairly directionless, organ lead track with maraca hits and extreme upfront vocals. Essentially, Pollard is singing a decent melody, that doesn't fit the rickety, Yo La Tengo-esque track.
Enter Moonlight- 1 Like the LPs opener, this is a super short, instrumental track. Nothing but ambient noise for 38 seconds.
For The Whiz Kid- 4 Upbeat, short early '00s sounding GBV tracks without guitar solo by Doug Gillard or something. Killer verses, not much of a chorus, but a steady, solid track.
The Neighborhood Trapeze- 3 Propulsive drum beat with big guitars that never really seems to go anywhere. Like most material on this, it's pretty repetitive. Pollard delivers solid vocals, but the song never officially breaks into any killer chorus. There's a stand alone guitar outro, but the structure unfortunately lacks any twists. And still, I like it enough to give it a "3." Almost great.
Just By Pushing A Button- 2 Piano and maraca track. Pollard sings some stuff over this 2 minute, rather pointless lullaby tune.
Early Chill Early Crow- 1 Richard Davies handles vocals again on this track. Actually, this sounds like a Pollard demo, as Davies down-strokes an acoustic, and electric squeals blast in and out. Pretty lame, good sir.
Westward Ho- 5 Acoustically backed, electric rocker. Great anthem for summer, with killer melancholy guitar leads. Pollard's melody falls a little short from hammering it home, but this song is the most solid offering on the LP.
Hail Mary- 3 The fourth song with original Davies vocals kept in. Acoustic, three chord downer pop. Davies "ABC, 123" rhyming is a little annoying. Then again, Pollard does that shit quite often enough. Kind of a bummer choice for an LP ender, but not a bad track.