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Interviews:


The band talks with ARLEQUINS (both English and Italian versions), 1/17


Damon audio interview on DISCRETE MUSIC, KPFA (Berkeley), 1/17


Damon audio interview on PROG ROCK DEEP CUTS, 11/16


Damon audio interview on PROG ROCK DEEP CUTS, 7/15


Damon and Jason talk with PROG ARCHIVES, 5/15


Damon, Jason and Emily talk with MUSIC STREET JOURNAL, 12/14


Damon talks with AVANT MUSIC NEWS, 10/13


on REPETITIONS OF THE OLD CITY - I


from AVANT-MUSIC NEWS:


“...Through 10 years of recordings, Jack ‘O The Clock is now established as a category unto themselves. The music often takes the form of complex, contrapuntal pieces with beautiful interplay between the hammer dulcimer, bassoon, violin, and guitar. The intertwined themes build and meander, but maintain a solid grounding that never quite extends into the pure avant-garde. On top of this are Waitkus’s poignant vocals, adding to the melancholic atmosphere.


“Listening to Jack ‘O The Clock invokes a twisted view of America post World War II – or perhaps projects that view to the rural blight of today. Lyrically, the group does not make a statement in particular. They offer no positions, polemics, nor solutions. Instead, their songs explore dark slices of life, unusual and disturbing happenings involving people both ordinary and strange. This unassuming and non-pretentious approach is a welcome contrast to today’s screaming-head social commentators.”


from The Progressive Aspect:


“...a thoroughly absorbing tour [that]...transports the listener into a world viewed through the dust haze of future-as-nostalgia...Old men contemplating failure, death and loss, childhood conditioning, railing against the unfair privilege of the entitled, and songs about guns and baseball fire one’s synapses as we travel through Damon’s strange world.


“The music is multi-layered and full of subtle complexity that serves to emphasise rather than downplay the human element. This music has bags of soul. Snatches of Latino rhythm mix with surreal Beatles-esque filmscore, chamber pop and finger-poppin’ singing in the rain...snatches of old English folk music mix it up with Damon’s individual and always involving take on Americana, which together with his knack for storytelling make for a highly satisfying listen that will have you hitting “Play” again, the second it stops.


“...Jordan Glenn’s subtle drumming is the perfect complement to Jason Hoopes’ sinuous bass lines, the two creating an effortless backdrop for the entwined complexities that dance their merry dance on top.


“Oh, and Repetitions…sounds drop dead gorgeous by the way...”


from Memory-Select:


“...another engaging collection of songs with prog smarts, jazz chops, and a folk/acoustic sheen...Brainy, poetic lyrics filled with yearning...The acoustic sounds on Repetitions are lucious, as always, but...modern electronic touches abound...”


from DPRP:


“Waitkus' attractively fragile and wobbly-warbled voice ... offers an evocative and melodic counterpoint to the complex arrangements of the music, and must surely make him one of the most distinctive singers in prog.


“...The use of hammer dulcimer, mandolin, marimba and guzheng at various points in the album creates a multi-toned and coloured palette, from which a marvelous and often unique aural landscape is crafted. The combination of bassoon and violin...is highly appealing. It supplies much of the album with a recognisable style, and additionally provides an interesting and unusual lustre that gives the album an inspired feeling, one that exudes both inventiveness and quality


“...The combination of so many different styles within the album, is at its best exhilarating, and is never less than interesting.”


from Music Street Journal


“...a very impressive album...a diverse and compelling musical journey from start to finish.”


from Jerry Lucky.com


“Who knew that bassoon could be such a viable lead instrument!...It’s great stuff. What can I say? The music of Jack O’ The Clock is something that you have to hear for yourself...If you’d described it to me before listening to it I would have been hard pressed to think it could be pulled off, but this band do it and they do it well.”


from Downtown Music Gallery:


“...the music seems to involve several layers which swirl around one another or turn inside out when you least expect them to. This is the third or fourth time I’ve listened to this disc this past week and each time some other nifty idea or odd twist is revealed. In the late 1960’s, there were a number of bands who worked at length in the studio and crafted music that combined a wealth of diverse influences and genres. Bands like Traffic, Family, Procol Harum,the Beatles and the Stones and many more, each in their own unique way created a certain magic or new world. A similar, creative spirit is found here so take some time to absorb this hidden treasure. If this is just Part One, we must prepare for the next part to arrive.”


from ProgArchives:


“A masterpiece of prog folk and progressive rock music. This band is maturing, gelling into one of the most compelling masters of the modern prog scene.”


“The performances are crisp and clear and brimming with emotion. The excellent lyrics are delivered with some of Damon's best vocals to date. The music here is a little more technically complex than some of their earlier works, but it is still delivered with real, organic instrumentation and an accessibility that will keep you coming back for more. I really love this band and this is another winner!”


from Sea of Tranquillity:


“Interesting arrangements, quirky instrumentation and excellent musicianship...nice vocal harmonies, delicate guitar work and sublime melodies...Music as innovative as this can sometimes be hard to describe.”


Non-English-language reviews:


http://www.chromatique.net/chroniques/item/16098-repetitions-of-the-old-city-i

http://www.ondarock.it/recensioni/2016_jackotheclock_repetitionsoftheoldcity.htm

http://recyclablesounds.blogspot.com/2016/11/jack-o-clock-repetitions-of-old-city-i.html


http://musikreviews.de/reviews/2016/Jack-O-The-Clock/Repetitions-Of-The-Old-City-I/


http://www.progwereld.org/cms/album/jack-o%E2%80%99-the-clock-%E2%80%93-repetitions-of-the-old-city-i/


http://www.streetclip.tv/magazine/details/reviews/article/jack-o-the-clock-repetitions-of-the-old-city-i/


http://babyblaue-seiten.de/index.php?albumId=16235&content=review


on NIGHT LOOPS


“[A]nother astonishing record from the all-American combo Jack O’ The Clock, following on from the All My Friends album which we noted in April 2014 with eyes agog and breath bated. Once again this mostly-acoustic five piece play the compositions of lead singer and musician Damon Waitkus, and throughout they conjure up stirring visions of a hybrid American history, part fact, part poetry, part visionary hallucination. There’s much depth and complexity contained within each song, hidden to some extent by the “ordinary” sounding titles, but Waitkus generously pours out lyrical images and unexpected turns of phrase that almost cast him as an folk-Americana-rustic reincarnation of Peter Hammill. He outdoes Walt Whitman and Thoreau in his compressed and multi-dimensional layerings, superimposing stories, memories, and fleeting dialogue on top of each other in each compacted song. The talented players Packard, McLoughlin, Hoopes and Glenn are required to swing their way effortlessly through elaborate chord changes, swoon-worthy layers of vocal harmonies, and melodies that weave their way around your head like creepers in a tree. Besides the dreamy songs, there are a number of shorter compositional works, replete with unusual sounds and instrumentation but quite heavy on the sort of creaky and clunky percussion that recalls the “bone machine” of Tom Waits, which earn Waitkus his spurs as a serious and inventive musician, occupying his own unique niche in a hollow log. Highly recommended…suggest you make tracks and investigate the back catalogue while you can.” -Ed Pinsent, Sound Projector


“Jack of the Clock just seem to go from strength to strength, one of the most original and compelling groups I know playing some amazing compositions that seem to tread effortlessly between Van Dyke Parks and folk music from an as yet unidentified culture, while making all the things you've always thought of as difficult sound as effortless and natural as breathing.” - Fred Frith


“Night Loops is a weighty head-on dive into the abyss of the human soul...There is absolutely nothing in this album that sounds false, inauthentic, or to be taken lightly. Night Loops is a meaningful and introspective album whose avant-garde tendencies certainly do not take away from its ability to feel very human.” Matt DiGiordano, Progulator


“There is so much music and depth to it - it will take weeks to peel it all back. "Come Back Tomorrow" for example, is incredibly rich, with catchy, spooky hooks, wonderful guitar, evocative story telling and pathos, beautiful arrangements, melodies and intricate textures in continual flux, sparse but exceptionally effective deep bass - this is the sort of musical experience that's kept me searching - and rewarding me - all my life.” -Werlon Funderbuck


“...haunting lyrics – poetic images of mainstream Americana’s cracked fabric...

[T]he group continues to defy pigeonholing or categorization as they travel unfrequented roads. Another winner for Jack ‘o the Clock.” - Mike Borella, Avant Music News


“...warming music for the soul that can still be amazingly cold and remote. It makes for a wonderful contradiction, as sounds and ideas whizz past at dizzying speed, waiting patiently for the next mind snagging hook to pick you up, twirl you round and place you once more in a discordant feast of challengingly intricate constructs.” - Steven Reid, Sea of Tranquility


“[T]here is a freshness and lack of conceit in the cleverness of the compositions.” -Something For The Weekend


“Many of the unique ingredients of the first three [albums] are still present here on Night Loops, but the tone is darker, far more experimental, and there seems to be more rock and electric instrumentation in the mix, including electronics and samples...As always, the vocal harmonies and arrangements are superb throughout, with plenty of attention given to shifting moods and interesting melodic threads...Another strong effort from this excellent bay area ensemble, and kudos for their willingness to incorporate new ideas into the fabric of their sound.” Peter Thelen, Expose


“This is a pretty amazing and unusual disc. It’s a safe bet you’ve never heard anyone quite like this. I mean, overall, a lot of it lands in similar territory to Rock in Opposition, but there is a lot more here, too. The funny thing is, for the most part, although everything is generally pretty strange, it’s also somehow compelling and accessible. That says a lot really.” -G.W. Hill, Music Street Journal


“The band still plies its trade in a smart blend of pop, prog, and folk, but the layers of electronics and percussion have thickened. It feels like the already sophisticated band has gotten even more sophisticated. Electronics, sound effects, and dense production...[are] unleashed in force here, in circles widening further beyond the rootsy music that always felt like the band’s starting point...A lot of these songs have been honed in live performances and then polished in the studio. It comes together in a cohesive, intelligent album that should open a lot of ears.” Craig M, Memory-Select, Avant-jazz radio


“...a highly interesting and novel mixture of rock-band-as-chamber-orchestra and left-field pop music, driven by much and varied instrumentation...Engaging, oblique, and cliché-free lyrics...a unique and highly enjoyable trip for the thinking music fan. The secret of Night Loops lies in the percussion. Ten Fingers, a strange confection sounding like an offshoot of a parallel universe mid 1980s Scott Walker album, eventually settles to a strain of dissonant alt-pop, and is held together by the many and intricate layers of real and electronic shakes and rattles. A kind of sparse finger-poppin’ funk informs Bethlehem Watcher, and an eerie acoustic spaciousness driven by cyclical acoustic guitar with later violin and cello embellishments is at the heart of the truly wonderful Come Back Tomorrow...Night Loops is another contender for album of the year in my book.” -Roger Trenwith, The Progressive Aspect


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NON-ENGLISH-LANGUAGE REVIEWS:


Chromatique, Baby Blue, Ragazzi, Paper Cult, Arlequins, Storia Della Musica, Music Meter, Progwereld


on ALL MY FRIENDS


ALBUM OF THE YEAR, 2013! - Mike Borella, Avant Music News


A record of great genius! Think early Van Dyke Parks meets...nah, forget it, think Damon Waitkus meets an extraordinary gang of accomplices and delivers, third time in a row. Amazing production. Extraordinary compositions. You need to hear it.

- Fred Frith


Jack O’ the Clock presents a fine lesson on what it means to write songs that are at once approachable and human while simultaneously being incredibly profound in terms of timbre, depth of emotion, and harmonic complexity. A brilliant and courageous work of American folk served over a strange backdrop...with the capacity to get better with each listen.

  1. -Matt Di Giordano, Progulator


All My Friends [is] a clutch of strangely poetical and melanholic songs, as pictureseque and raggedly twisted as those dusty old trees you find on the Pacific coast, bleached by the elements and forming queer shapes...The lead singing voice...is quite remarkable, a distinctive honey-and-mustard tone which you won’t be forgetting in a hurry. [Damon Waitkus’] throat caresses each lyric with the softness of a mountain lion’s tongue licking its wounds. And his compositions are quite astonishing, both for the strength of his ideas (rich with literary and poetic ambitions) and the arrangements, which I can only describe as “idiosyncratic”. Simply labelling it “Americana” or “contemporary folk” doesn’t come close to unpacking the density and complexity of these intricate structures, which thread the listener through alternative histories of American musical history with as much verve, daring, and intellectual passion as Van Dyke Parks...In short, it’s like hearing some of my favourite “Old Timey” fiddle and guitar records such as the Hackberry Ramblers or the Carolina Tar Heels updated with compositional ideas worthy of a Stockhausen or a Boulez...I’ll certainly keep revisiting this opaque and mysterious work, as I’m sure there’s a lot of content to be excavated from its deep mines...

-Ed Pinsent, Sound Projector, UK


I am really at a loss to provide any convenient comparisons or reference points to anything else that a reader may have heard...The lyrics are every bit as interesting as their music...All taken, this is some of the most stunningly original music that one is likely to hear, on this world or any other. -Peter Thelen, Exposé


An especially accomplished and moving song collection.

  1. -Glenn Kenney, Some Came Running


Like most truly inventive bands, Jack O’ The Clock are difficult to describe, but there is something special going on here. Nominally this is artsy-prog-folk, and though it could be called avant or experimental, there is none of the cacophony that suggests. Jack O’ The Clock are pushing their music in new directions, but they remain dedicated to songcraft, and their music has warmth.

-Kinesis


It will take a while to fully absorb the entirety of...this disc so enchanting but with each listen another fine facet is revealed.

- Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery


An accessible avant-garde album; who would of thought?

- Jon Neudorf, Sea Of Tranquility


on HOW ARE WE DOING AND WHO WILL TELL US?


Jack o’the Clock are an unbelievably great band, Damon Waitkus is an extraordinarily courageous composer, and this is some of the freshest and most surprising music I’ve heard since, well, since their first record. Hallelujah!

 -Fred Frith


Pushing the limits [of song form] out in every direction, be it 20th century classical, Americana, chamber, progressive rock, medieval music, just about anything one might imagine...Beach Boys-like harmonies mix with chugging metal rhythms flanked by beautiful classical-inspired melodies courtesy of violin and bassoon. Field recordings and sound effects mix freely with their inventive arrangements, where almost anything becomes possible, yet always remains listenable...There’s an amazing amount of originality in these twelve tracks, and those looking for some intrepid, barrier-breaking music would do well to start here.”  -Peter Thelen, Exposé Magazine


Jack O’ The Clock take us on a journey away from the three minute pop song to a nirvana of freeform yet relaxed musical complexity....Pulling this kind of trick off takes no small amount of skill and that, perhaps, is the key to this album as with such skilled musicians more chances can get taken...We have a band that can go from synergistic synchronicity to inspired Americana and even to freeform post rock without breaking sweat. – Bluesbunny, Glasgow, Scotland.


The melodies are catchy, the composing tickles my prog ear, and the musicianship is solid...This is terrific music — likeable, substantial, and deserving of an audience.”

Craig M, Memory Select, Avant-jazz radio


Folk in Opposition?...Think a lysergic Incredible String Band crossed with a mescaline-addled Fairport Convention. Maddening patterns rub elbows with delicate melodies and bouncy upbeat tunes turn dark as the crew runs the gamut from pretty to pretty weird. If this sounds like a fun wild ride, then I've made my point. – Warren Barker, Progression Magazine


Parts are surprisingly melodic and at times even quasi-ambient down the road of "majestic junk folk" — the band's self-stuck label — the album's twelve songs travel. The quintet, a group of skilled players led by multi-instrumentalist Damon Waitkus, takes itself just seriously enough to produce cohesive bits of music that shun conventional three-act, verse-chorus structures that could also be billed "hillbilly funk" or "backwater fusion." And isn't this what fits the "progressive" bill? ...the perfect album for the discerning listener looking for something different yet not alienating.” -Elias Granillo Jr., Prognaut


Peculiar Americana. The designed-for-sustained-thought stories and sorta-folk-rock, sorta-venturing-onto-new-paths music remind me of Joanna Newsom, if she were male, had a gently limber and precise voice, was less interested in death and more interested in alive weird outsiders...Or how R.E.M. could have followed Fables of the Reconstruction had Michael Stipe's stories got longer and more detailed while the band stretched out to comment on the plots. -Brian Block, Greensboro, NC


An original work full of inventive compositions - Mark Johnson, Sea Of Tranquility


SFChronicle 1/20/11 Bandwidth Article and Interview


on RARE WEATHER


This is a goldmine...At times it sounds like symphonic and grand enough to be mistaken for Anathallo or Sufjan Stevens, but with more kitchen utensils being used for percussion. The standard song is maybe an acoustic guitar, banjo, dulcimer, music box, accordion, bassoon, violin, drum kit, and rusty barrel for good measure...The lyrics are really imaginative and tell fun stories not too far off from Picaresque and the instrumental “Suckers ‘n Marks” sounds like an amalgamation of the Secret of Monkey Island soundtrack and a Tom Waits tune...this album is accessible and, moreover, fun.” -tasiverin.net


Jack O’ the Clock calls themselves ‘majestic junk folk,’ but you can decide for yourself what to call the quirky mix of guitars, banjos, hammer dulcimers, bass and violin, to name a few...the more you listen, the more the details of lyrics, melody and orchestration unfold...On the band’s website, a featured track, “New American Gothic,” haunts you with melancholy, warbling vocals layered with guitars, harp and violin. A shorter ditty, “Suckers N’ Marks,” was designed for [documentary film] Carny Girl to sound like “black and white stills of carnies having a night on the town half a century ago.” Somehow, they’ve accomplished this feat as well as anyone could; whether you’re familiar with folk music or not, the music seems to take you back to an earlier time, before auto-tune, synth and teen pop sensations. 

–Darcy Wallace, Eugene Weekly


As Laurie Anderson said in one of her performances, ‘Get ready for difficult listening.’...Listening to Art music is usually an exercise in humbling oneself before the great composer. On this recording, the sound is accessible and not at all full of itself. There are enough traces of standard compositional techniques to keep the listener grounded in the here and now....Given the mechanical repetition of a lot of the sounds, it would be easy to put these guys into the same category as the electronica types. What's different is that the sounds are all produced by found items and there is something human and grounded about the result...The lyrics and singing raise this recording to another level.

–Jeremiah Sutherland, Bullfrog Music


This 5-piece band uses ambient noises and earthy sounds to create their folk music. The result is a desolate, wintry version of twangy folk. Spiking the songs with an eclectic array of traditional Americana instruments gives the tracks depth. Besides the normal guitar/bass/drums arrangement, Jack O' The Clock gives us dulcimer, banjo, flute, violins, saw, bassoon, recorder, trombone, accordion, and half a dozen other instruments, each played with aplomb...If you are a fan of musicianship, you will get quite a lot out of Jack O' The Clock.Snob's Reviews, Toronto


Rare Weather is a rare musical gift...Every track can stand on its two feet...I look forward to what Jack O' The Clock comes out with next.” – Keith Gaboury,  SF Examiner










 

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