Columbia Free Times

Mason Jar Menagerie’s self-titled LP

By Jordan Lawrence
Wednesday, June 11, 2014 |
Mason Jar Menagerie
Mason Jar Menagerie
(Deep Roots)

Mason Jar Menagerie doesn’t sit still. Since forming three years ago, the Upstate trio has gigged relentlessly, striking out this spring with a contingent of Palmetto State bands for a showcase at Texas’ annual South By Southwest Festival. This self-titled platter, their second full-length and third release in as many years, makes good on this effort, sharpening the group’s bluesy rock ‘n’ roll.

What: Mason Jar Menagerie
Where: Conundrum Music Hall, 626 Meeting St.
When Saturday, June 14, 8 p.m.
With: Dumb Doctors, Pillage & Plunder
Price: $5
More Info:
Much of the record recalls The Black Keys as they appeared on 2008’s Attack & Release, which found the duo grinding insistently through revved-up Delta blues before their subsequent dive off the arena-rock deep end. Mason Jar Menagerie can’t match the finesse of the Keys’ give-and-take, but the band’s brash bass lines and swaggering melodies are delivered with similar conviction. Opener “Coming for You” lets guitarist Jake Garrett simmer through mournful blues licks before kickstarting the song’s frenzied riffs. The penultimate “Get Everything and Go” stomps and staggers like The White Stripes early in their run, with Garrett’s coarse croon ably backing his tough-guy barbs.

These highlights, while thrilling, are far from innovative. But the skills displayed form a bedrock from which Mason Jar might reach for more adventurous heights. Check “Concept of God,” the honky-tonk epic that closes the album. It’s a little like The Drive-By Truckers when their big-rig tunefulness breaks down. Patient strums, tender licks and far-off organ cushion Garrett, who howls as if still battling raucous volume: “Could you just take away the pain / From me?” he cries, seeking absolution without the burden of faith. It’s a powerful moment, one that draws on familiar sounds but strikes out in its own bold direction — a pattern Mason Jar would do well to repeat.

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