13 October 2021

CALEB LANDRY JONES – Gadzooks Vol. 1 (2021, LP/CD Sacred Bones Records)




Label: Sacred Bones Records

Format: LP, Album, Limited Edition, Black Vinyl

Format: LP, Album, Limited Edition, Deluxe Edition, Red w/ Blue Splatter Vinyl (includes a zine insert featuring handwritten lyrics and a small collection of art created by Caleb during the process of writing and recording the album), 300 copies

Format: LP, Album, Limited Edition, Red Vinyl

Format: CD, Album

Release Date: 24 Sep 2021

What a wonderful and unexpected surprise! Another BRILLIANT album by an actor! ??? Well, let me explain myself… It isn’t long ago since an actor from the UK blew me away with his latest LP album. I’m referring to British actor/musician Matt Berry and his LP “The Blue Elephant” (Acid Jazz Records)… On the other side of the ocean, another actor released ONE of the best Neo-Psychedelic albums of this 2021 pandemic year! Well, all of you cine-freaks out there, may have heard his name, Caleb Landry Jones, he played in many movies and one of his most known roles is Banshee in X-Men: First Class… It seems that “music” is Caleb’s secret passion and after I came across his album “Gadzooks Vol. 1” is that I discovered that this isn’t his first record as his debut was released last year (2020) entitled “The Mother Stone”… Well, by now, you may have thought something like “OK, another American actor out of thousands that releases music, so what?… BUT!!! This youngster here (born in 1989) seems that he knows his “lesson” extremely well! Let’s have a closer look at his Bandcamp notes before we start to explore “Gadzooks Vol. 1”:

“Caleb Landry Jones is a continual creator. The Texan-born star found fame as an actor – you’ll recognize him from key roles in X-Men: First Class, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, amongst others – but music is perhaps his first love and his source of greatest comfort. A chance encounter with famed auteur Jim Jarmusch brought him into the orbit of Sacred Bones, and the stalwart independent released Caleb’s 2020 debut album ‘The Mother Stone’. Psychedelic in a defiantly non-retro way, this indulgent, freewheeling trip won critical acclaim, but masked a secret – he’d already finished another album.
Filming alongside Tom Hanks in dystopian-themed Finch, Caleb found himself writing during those long evenings after the shoot in locations across New Mexico, idling away his hours by focussing on creativity. “I need it,” he says. “I’ve tried working without it. On one acting job, I intentionally didn’t bring a guitar to try and do it without music… but that didn’t last long. I need to create something – it could be a drawing, it could be a song – because otherwise, I feel like I’m wasting time. Which is something I do plenty of on my own!”
With his creative faculties burning, Caleb knew he had to get straight back into the studio when filming stopped. Linking with the same cast who formed ‘The Mother Stone’, he resumed his partnership with producer Nic Jodoin, based out of the elegant Valentine Recording Studio in Los Angeles. A studio steeped in history – everyone from Bing Crosby to Frank Zappa worked there – he interrupted mixing sessions for his own debut album in order to focus on something different.
“I knew I could make something a little more focussed, and less difficult. And this became an experiment,” he explains. “We wanted to do something we hadn’t done on the last one and also get a slightly different sound.”
New album ‘Gadzooks Vol. 1’ exists in a completely different realm from Caleb’s debut album. Ranging from spider-like wisps of neo-psychedelia through to vast swathes of synthetic chords, it’s a record that moves from joy to despair, from horror to glib humor. “‘The Mother Stone’ was so open to me, and it went to a lot of places, and it never came back to those places. And I wanted to just keep going,” he says. “I wanted to make something that made me smile and giggle!”
Working 18 hour days at Valentine Recording Studio – “oh boy, it’s immaculate!” – Caleb brought his vision into focus. Producer Nic Jodoin was key to the process – the pair’s relationship was deepened by their experiences on his debut. “I mean, technically, he’s a genius,” Caleb gushes. “I think we were able to trust each other more on things and go down the rabbit hole faster. We had more faith in ourselves.”
“But more importantly, I think it’s his attitude. He’s always wanting to push himself, for me to push myself, and we’re both wanting to make something that we haven’t made before.” They’ve definitely succeeded. ‘Gadzooks Vol. 1’ is unlike anything you’ve heard before – comparisons range from Skip Spence’s fractured masterpiece ‘Oar’ through to skewed troubadour Robyn Hitchcock, via John Lennon’s black moods on ‘The White Album’ and Frank Zappa’s caustic surrealism. Recording to tape, Caleb would hack away at each take, re-assembling the songs like Escher diagrams. “It’s like when you’re swimming in the pool,” he smiles, “and you’re doing a bit of butterfly, and then that gets old after a while. So then you start doing breaststroke, and then that gets old after a while. I think it’s just a reaction from the place where we were before.”
Opener ‘Never Wet’ scarcely stumbles over the one-minute mark, yet it feels like a battery overloaded with electricity, sparking and flashing with incendiary ideas, close to the point of explosion. “I think if I said what it was about, I get in a lot of trouble!” he laughs. “I guess it’s an inside joke.”
‘Yesterday Wil Come’ is little more than strummed notes and a mantra-like vocal line, half-laughing itself into ego death. “I actually didn’t realize what the lyrics were,” he comments, “until I was playing it for my mom in the studio!”
Amid the chaos and confusion, however, certain themes and motifs recur. Like dreams, for instance – “I don’t think you can trust someone who doesn’t dream” – or the reaches of religion. Brought up in Texas, Caleb Landry Jones was smothered in Christianity during his childhood, until uncovering The Beatles fostered his free-thinking individuality. ‘Never Wet’ contains oblique Christ references, while ‘Bogie’ – “The old woman rushes my faith… you let me live this lie” – is the closest Caleb comes to some form of renunciation. “There’s a lot of meaning there,” is all he’ll say on that one. “It’s pretty self-induced.”
He’s the first to admit that there’s a child-like element to his studio inquisitiveness. “I am very influenced by the music I heard when I was a kid,” he admits. “But I’m also influenced by the rules of comedy, because they apply to music, too. It’s the same. I think they core align very, very well.”
Some parts of the album were written years ago, and some were constructed on the hoof in the studio. ‘California’ for instance, was penned during the recent bushfires, and it’s a meditation on the Golden State. “I came to California obsessed with making movies, but most of the people involved in making those movies had died,” he says. “I found very quickly that it was unlike anything I’d expected. And then it grew to be something greater than I could have expected as well.”
Album finale ‘This Won’t Come Back’ is perhaps Caleb’s finest moment to date, a bravura statement from a free spirit. Spending hours alone in the studio with a Prophet keyboard, he constructs something truly original, breathtaking in its sheer daring. “I was obsessed with this idea of letting go, and to just not have a plan,” he recalls. “I really wanted to finish the record this way. I needed to get away from song structures, and bar measures, and just see if my music worked without those things.”
Part of a flood-tide of creativity – as its title suggests, a second half to this album is already on the horizon – ‘Gadzooks Vol. 1’ is thrilling, shocking, and wonderfully entertaining. Each song starts and finishes in entirely unique places, often totally divorced from each other. “I’m trying to write something very simple,” he says. “And it gets really abstract because I don’t know any other way.”
Right now he’s living in Bushwick, New York – “long story short, I’m actually living in a bar!” – seeing out the pandemic, waiting for roles to come in and songs to appear. “It’s champagne problems!” he laughs. “I’m always writing. Always.” He smiles and finishes: “I do this all the time. It’s a craft.”… 

“Gadzooks Vol. 1” contains 9 tracks/songs/creations and there’s no pause between the songs making this record a continuing musical journey… The opener “Never Wet” starts and I can’t believe my ears! Imagine a more slow-down, psychedelized, swirling, and Strings-infused version of that great Underground tune “Now” from the album “Cosmic Mind At Play” by that terrific 1970 Psychedelic band from Minneapolis, The Paisleys, and you may get the picture… W-O-W! And while I’m still in a sock, and only 93 seconds have passed, the song is abruptly interrupted and moves to the second track, “Yesterday Will Come”, a mid-tempo and super-extra BEATLES-influenced tune (Let It Be era) with an amazing mix of various different “things” going on at the background, emerging a nostalgic feeling and assimilating a fabulous 60s atmosphere, a quite Baroque n’ Psych delicious tune! “The Loon” with its strange deeply-effected vocal sounding and the beautifully disturbing soundscape, is an insanely torturously PopSike song, becoming a distortically sophisticated John Lennon tune… “Bogie” sounds like a lost track from The White Album sessions, while in the studio along with the fab four is Syd with members of Skip Bifferty and Tomorrow! “Gloria” is the most PSYCHEDELIC 38 seconds of new music that I’ve heard since I don’t even can remember! I believe that Caleb has studied The Claypool Lennon Delirium, this is quite obvious on the next track “California”, another extremely Beatlesque song, emerging a strange kind of gentleness… God, it’s so hard to describe the music that I’m listening to… Psychedelic Beatles are blending with LSD-operatic vocals… This is Genius Psych music! “For A Short Time” is another “out-of-this-world” tune that is very hard to be categorized, strings are mixing with slow warm vocals filling the atmosphere with melancholic vibes getting darker with a distorted funeral-like atmos, an eerie tune indeed! “A Slice Of Dreams” is a short 92 seconds tune, full of strangeness and psyche, a multi-effected tune that can only make me wonder what would have happened if these 90sec tracks were ever expanded to full-length Psych anthems… Eventually, the album closes with the structure-free 20min elegy “This Won’t Come Back”… There’s an evil haunted distorted melody on the piano which is sporadically being repeated through this magnificent experimental epicness… At some point, I catch myself being teleported back, in the middle of an Acid Test happening held by Key Kesey and his Merry Pranksters… The whole thing here acts like a free-form studio experiment using all sonic abilities that a studio console can provide… Feels like you’re inside a perverted reality in an ambiguous state of mind… Strange… So strange… Of course, this is not an “actual song”, this is not Pop music (though it has elements), this is a PSYCHEDELIC EXPERIMENT using lots of sound-trickery… I see an effort from Caleb, trying to incorporate everything he can absorb from the psychedelic 60s into his music… On the other hand, maybe not… But who cares? Let’s face the true facts here, the raw reality… Caleb Landry Jones delivered a Mind-Blowing album, destined to be cult in 50 years, or so… I can hardly imagine what a Vol.2 will sound like and I’m very desperately looking forward to it… Needless to say, “Gadzooks Vol. 1” is one of the best albums of the last… DECADE! TimeLord Michalis



A1 Never Wet 1:33
A2 Yesterday Will Come 3:23
A3 The Loon 3:01
A4 Bogie 3:09
A5 Gloria 0:38
A6 California 4:49
A7 For A Short Time 2:27
B1 A Slice Of Dreams 1:22
B2 This Won’t Come Back 20:18


Listen/Buy through CALEB LANDRY JONES Bandcamp

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1 Response

  1. Pingback : TimeMachine Productions » CALEB LANDRY JONES – Gadzooks Vol. 2 (2022, LP/CD Sacred Bones Records)

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