BY RYAN PAUL PLEWACKI
Special to Gimme Noise
I've been fortunate to have worked on a few projects with Darren Jackson over the course of the last year. There had been small hints and mentions of a new Kid Dakota record in the works. But, no matter how hard I pried, Jackson gave me little to run with, insistent on moseying back to his plot of land in South Dakota with vague assurance that I'd hear something "soon."
I began to lose hope. That was, until Listen to the Crows as They Take Flight showed up in my inbox earlier this week.
[jump] I'd like to preface this by saying that I am a genuine Kid Dakota fan. I can't count the nights that I've decompressed on my couch with A Winner's Shadow playing softly on my stereo. Or the times I've banged on my steering wheel while blaring The West is the Future. The esteem I hold for Jackson and this band produced lofty expectations for this new album. I'm pleased to report that my standards were met and exceeded.
Exlusive stream: Kid Dakota, "Extra Ordinary"
Tracks like "Dawn Did Us Apart" and "Torn in Two" will please any Kid Dakota regular. The songs are dark with breath stealing builds. I'm talking about Jackson's cunning ability to make flawless movements from Dolce to Appassionato (for the music nerds). I simply call it the "Kid Dakota sound."
Listen to the Crows... also reveals a playful and humorous side of Jackson that is rarely heard in previous albums. The song "Jay's A Wreck" is an upbeat, yet sardonic number about an apathetic dude who reads too much, works a dead end job, and has no impact on anything or anyone around him. "Extra Ordinary," written about the Heaven's Gate cult of 1997, jabs with facetious lines like, "We'll be famous. Everyone will be very happy."
While I find it naïve to assume that any song is autobiographical, I'd suggest that it's reasonable to feel like one might know a little bit of Jackson on a personal level upon finishing this record. Following in suit with previous Kid Dakota albums, Jackson's lyrics are vivid and transparent. If the images he's conjured are not directly about him or his experiences, it's clear that he's had an intimate relationship with the emotions behind them. I don't believe anyone could write a song like "Phantom Pain" (my personal favorite) without having encountered it.
Personnel wise, Listen to the Crows... hosts the current KD lineup of Brian Roessler on bass and Peter Leggett on drums. Additional contributors include Eliza Blue, Martin Dosh, Haley Bonar, and Andrew Broder. Every note and hook are carefully placed, arranged, and weaved together with precision. It's a musical monument.
I've waited more than three and a half years for this album. I watched Jackson move back to South Dakota to grow a big garden and build a distant life away from our street lights and sky scrapers. Maybe part of me assumed that my friend and musical hero had thrown in the towel. But Darren Jackson proved me wrong. The complex Listen To The Crows As They Take Flight might take me longer to digest than it took him to record it. It has already left me full. And, as always, wanting more.
--Ryan Paul Plewacki
Kid Dakota's Listen to the Crows as They Take Flight will be released October 11, 2011 on Graveface Records. Full track listing:
Dawn Did Us Part
Plotting the Trajectories
Jay's a Wreck
Dreaming of the City
War and Pieces
The Winter Without You
Torn in Two
Fiber Optic Failure
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