The Jigsaw Seen – Winterland (2011)

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According to the calendar, winter is just around the corner. To some people that means gloomy skies, the holiday blahs, frostbite and catching colds, while to other people it means mugs of steaming hot chocolate, relaxing by the cozy fireside, beautiful snow capped scenarios and holiday cheer.

No matter how you view or experience these particular months, there’s no debate you’ll give a thumbs up to the Jigsaw Seen’s new album Winterland, a season-themed song cycle that can actually be enjoyed anytime of the year. Clutching tight to their standard of excellence, the long-running Los Angeles, California-based band, which has been in existence since the late 1980s, has once again deposited a sterling set of amazing shapes and sounds, sparked by a magical melding of pop precision, quirky garage rock touches and psychedelic voodoo.

Governed by a chorus of chiming chords, the tasty “Candy Cane” owes a wink, nod and smile to the keening stylings of the Byrds, while “What About Christmas?” shimmers and shakes to an electrifying exhibition of acid dusted neon guitars, crunchy rhythms and monster drumming. A trance-inducing finish furnishes the drop dead gorgeous “Dreams of Spring,” which ably blends gentleness with power, and then there’s “December,” a crackling folk fashioned instrumental, that to these ears, borrows bits and pieces from both “White Summer” by the Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin’s “Black Mountain Side.” But originality is definitely the driving force here. Although the Jigsaw Seen don’t deny their influences, they never fail to build upon and transcend such inspirations.

The spunky “Snow Angels of Pigtown” steps in as another winning card on the disc, as well as a spellbinding cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Circle of Steel,” in which Dave Davies of the Kinks contributes vocals. The stark but solid delivery of “Christmas Behind Me” bristles to a moody, haunting beat, as the ringing burr of an organ steers the ship on the instantly infectious “First Day of the New Year” and “Woman Loves the Season” ripples with earnest emotions and ravishing melodies. The final cut on the record is the aptly titled “Winterland’s Gone,” a twinkly slice of arty pop luster that recalls the Beach Boys at their experimental best.

December by The Jigsaw Seen

Spilling forth with smart songwriting, bright and shiny singing, pastoral textures and harmonic performances altogether, this Vibro-Phonic Recordings project offers the kind of creativity and imagination musicians aspire to. The Jigsaw Seen is one of the greatest bands roaming the earth these days, and Winterland is a testimony to their genius.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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