The Austin Chronicle
September 8, 2000

Record Reviews

Little Jack Melody & His Young Turks

Live -- Noise and Smoke (Kilroy)

Mostly due to their geographical origins in Denton, Little Jack Melody started out with the rep of being something of a "Little Brave Combo," but it soon became obvious they preferred to tread the less sunny side of the street. This recent live effort is musically tight, strong on song selection, painting a portrait of the band as a cross between Sinatra and Waits, with bits of Brecht and Nordine thrown in on the side. After an opening that sounds like a Leonard Pinth-Garnell speech written by Michael O'Donohue, the band delivers something that's a far cry from Bad Theatre. With a tendency toward taking the music of yesteryear and giving it lyrics with far deeper meaning than the songsmiths of the last century envisioned ("The Dance Lesson" is well-described as a "dysfunctional co-dependency tango" for example), Melody finds his forte in bringing the sounds of a bygone age into the next century, making nearly every track on Noise and Smoke an impressive beacon for tomorrow. Except for the cover of Quiet Riot's "Cum On Feel the Noize," of course, which they can only be forgiven for because they started covering it swing-style before Austin's Recliners did.



The Austin Chronicle
March 26-April 1, 1999

Recommended events

Little Jack Melody
& His Young Turks

Cactus Cafe, Saturday 27

"When you wake up in a blue ashtray joined at the hip with a waitress whose name you canít quite remember," confided Little Jack Melody, leaning with a wan and sinister smile into the Speakeasy microphone during his Thursday SXSW set, "thereís a high probability you were slouching towards Bethlehem." Maybe so, Jack, maybe so, but what better guide than the muy suave Little Jack Melody and his swanky Young Turk backing Band? Moody, stylish, and egregiously talented, the Young Turks churn out prime slouching music, a neo-cabaret built from organ, banjo, bass, sax, traps, trumpet, and the droll and tender romance of Little Jack himself.

One of a kind.

-Jay Hardwig




The Austin Chronicle

March 12, 1999


Get out your smoking jacket and lay your ears on velvet for the droll romance and melodic melancholy of this Denton quintet, a neo-cabaret act whose setlist runs from "99 Luftballons" to Beethovenís Ninth to a host of strange originals. Little Jackís latest on Carpe Diem, My Charmed Life, runs from the suave to the swanky to the sublime in the finest Young Turk tradition. Lounge music? Maybe, but twice as good and three times as inventive as most of whatís out there. (Speakeasy, midnight, 3/17/99)



The Austin Chronicle
Texas Platters

September 12, 1997


my charmed life (Carpe Diem)

Little Jack Melodyís third release is full of gorgeous musical textures and hidden aural surprises, but thatís what happens when you mix Bertold Brecht cabaret commentary with Tom Waits-style instrumentation. The title track, with its smoky lounge feel, brags about (pines for?) a life where the "skies are always sunny, jokes always funny/100% is my share/My Charmed Life/essentially nonpareil." Another tune, "At night you hear the trains," with its hawker-meets-space waltz beat, sounds like Chris Isaak writing the incidental music for a circus episode of Twin Peaks (after exceeding the recommended dose of codeine cough syrup). Then thereís "Samba Ordinaire" with its delightfully bouncy Brazilian rhythm and punchy horns, and "Thirty pieces of silver," a haunting song with Judas-meets-Faust-meets-your-local grifter lyrics and an appropriately edgy sax solo. But not every tune is a twisted tale: "Maggie, with green eyes," with its sparse, moving piano and violin line, is a short, emotional song about losing a loved one to lifeís fate.

Ah yes, what a deliciously crazy world it is. Thank Zeus for circus freaks like Little Jack Melody & His Young Turks for unfolding it for us.

  -David Lynch









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