St. Petersburg indie-pop group The Jackettes make uncertainty feel safe on sophomore LP

'The Jackettes Live The Endless Bummer' sees release June 29 show at Paper Crane.

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click to enlarge BUMMERTIME BLUES: The Jackettes, who play Paper Crane in St. Petersburg, Florida on June 29, 2018. - Michael Oliver
Michael Oliver
BUMMERTIME BLUES: The Jackettes, who play Paper Crane in St. Petersburg, Florida on June 29, 2018.

Simply put, the new album from The Jackettes is gorgeous. From the opening, vintage horn-laced “Main Theme,” to the last, lilting organ swells of “23 Years,” The Jackettes Live The Endless Bummer lifts listeners up, spins them around and makes an individual feel not like the most important person in the world, but like one of the so many important people collectively, confusingly, trying to navigate life on this dizzying blue planet we all call home.

At times, Endless Bummer — which was recorded and mixed in St. Petersburg, then mastered in Orlando — plays like a quiet, beachside exhale (listen to “Golden Town,” which recalls Kings of Convenience or M. Ward). At other points, it’s the joyously misfiring neuron in an unreleased Jimi Hendrix solo (“So Much Hair” and “Do All Dogs Go To Heaven”). “Poplar Street” is a conduit away from darker side of the Beatles, and the LP’s title track possesses all the warmth, moodiness and baroque-nouveau flare of Rufus Wainwright’s best material. Jackettes vocalist and keyboardist Jackson Davis surrenders that an already-in-the-works follow-up is influenced by Patti Smith, Mona Bone Jakon-era Cat Stevens and The Kinks’ Muswell Hillbillies, but trying to pin the band to one specific sound or era is futile.

“I am very conscious of not turning into just some throwback band,” Davis, 27, told CL in an email about a unit that’s seen more than a handful of different players since the release of its eclectic, distinctly Floridian 2015 debut And Then He Found His Flubber Soul.

“I absolutely love that we have had so many phases. I love to keep the identity fluid, everything about that feels right to me.”

Most every minute of Endless Bummer feels good and proper, too, sorta like holding a close friend’s hand or the inside of an accepting embrace at the end of a frustrating day. To have a release evoke so many solid, assuring emotions is intriguing, considering the three-year journey that saw part of the album scrapped and then re-recorded.

“I’m constantly writing stuff mentally or recording on my phone, but honestly, for a while over the last year or two, I have dealt with some dark mental states that have brought things to a snail’s pace,” Davis explained. In fact, Flubber was a documentation of a brief, great and and exciting period where Davis’ mind was running away.

“I was kind of freaking out and trying to warn people, ‘Keep an eye on me, I don’t know where this trip is taking me.’” Davis said. But if Flubber was the period of enlightenment, then Endless Bummer is the comedown where people learn how to use their previous experiences to try and better themselves.

“It is realizing that things are temporary and you have to keep moving and learning, you’ve never arrived. You never know all the answers,” Davis explained. “So three years feels like an eternity.”

It’s also been a half-decade since a local indie-pop enlightened era gave Tampa Bay bands like Grecian Urns, The Sun Society and The Happiness Machine, which Davis was a part of. It was a great period of playing shows with friends, but the songwriter admits to being a scared kid who just needed structure.

“I faked intellect. I think I was just searching for all the wrong things back then. I feel like I’m closer to the things I’ve desired to be now that I have given up on attaining them,” Davis said. “I love the people I’ve shared creative moments with but I don’t miss it because it needed to change. I’m happy to be where I am at.”

Where Davis is at today is surrounded by a solid band that includes Happiness Machine drummer Evan Eubanks and guitarist Dallas Eubanks. Phil Oliver won’t be recording for the band anymore, which leaves a question about a bassist, but Davis is surrounded by questions anyway. At times, Davis feels in love and pumped about a new creation. In other moments it’s just emptiness and a dead feeling inside; Davis has even considered what leaving the body might be like.

“But where else could I go? I’m stuck in here… [I’m] just trying to sit in between all those sides of the spectrum and love that feeling,” Davis explained. “Self-worth doesn’t fluctuate, even though it feels that way in my head.”

It all sounds so philosophical, and a lot like the kid who used to feign wisdom, but Davis has an easy way of diffusing any notions that a singing savant might be in the room.

“I’m not saying anything new or groundbreaking, I have no answers for anyone. I’m mostly just reassuring myself right now,” Davis explained. Fluidity, queerness and just listening all feel right in this moment. What feels truly wrong, bizarre and uninteresting are the people on Earth trying to define what is normal and good, and what really bothers Davis are the loving people who can be so cruel without even knowing it. Inside of Davis is a desire to dedicate “everything I create for forever to anyone dismantling straight — or really any — structures and hierarchies with their existence.”

The Jackettes are more of an attitude, or a spirit, rather than a genre of music anyway, and that spirit is inclusion, vulnerability and the idea that inexperience and our shortcomings should fuel our creativity. Davis is all for it so as long as a that state of mind is still there. That’s what living in an endless bummer is all about.

“I want everyone to be liberated and be able to feel comfortable in their skin and I want them to shake their booties to The Jackettes while they’re gettin’ it — or not,” Davis said before signing off. “That feels right.”

Preorder 'The Jackets Live The Endless Bummer' on GoFundMe. Call your local record store to see if it'll carry the physical release, and get more information on the show below.

The Jackettes w/Ari Chi/The Venus. Fri. June 29, 8 p.m. $5. Paper Crane, 910 5th Ave. N., Saint Petersburg

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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