Jack And The Beanstalk – Vodka Line E.P.

Rhythm Barrel

Title

Format: CD
LabelRhythm Barrel
Catalogue: BRRL003
Country: Finland
Year: 2002

Condition: New

01. Vodka Line
02. She Does The Handclaps
03. Bleed
04. Mr Cynic (from BoB # 55)
05. These Boots Are Made For Walkin' (unreleased album out-take)
06. Amnesia (live in the studio)
07. Windmill (live in the studio)
08. 10 000 Sunny Days (home recording)
09. Bleed (original home demo)

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Australia's Jack and the Beanstalk has been consistently producing some of the best power pop in the world for nearly a decade, but apparently only Sweden and Finland know it. The quartet's latest release Vodka Line EP may not change that sad fact, but it at least provides a handful of new beans for its dedicated fans. The EP contains a few new songs, plus stripped-down versions of older tunes. Of the latter, the unaccompanied 12-string take on 10,000 Sunny Days is the best, though acoustic runs through Amnesia and Windmill certainly ain't chopped liver. But the most exciting tracks here are the fresh tunes, including the vibrant rockers Vodka Line and Mr. Cynic, the cheeky bum romance of She Does The Handclaps (in which the girl of the singer's dreams runs off with the drummer, but not before being talked into adding handclaps to the band's latest track) and the aching ballad Bleed (which also appears in a demo version). Leader Joe Algeri reiterates his standing as one of power pop's best songwriters with these tunes, and his winsome, heart-on-sleeve vocals make them that much more potent. The inclusion of a testicular cover of These Boots Are Made For Walkin' is a bit puzzling, as it frankly stands out like a sore thumb, perhaps it should have been saved for a B-side somewhere. But it's more of an oddity than a misstep, and does nothing to diminish the glories on the rest of Vodka Line EP.

Michael Toland

High Bias webzine (USA)

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When Joe Algeri returned to Perth last year, he quickly got his band together, played a storming gig at the Amplifier Bar and stopped at Witzend Studios to record the latest Jack and the Beanstalk material before returning to Sweden for the birth of his first child. The title track is a traditional sounding power pop song - indicative of the simply crafted pop that Jack and the Beanstalk do so well. She Does The Handclaps is a tongue in cheek dig at groupies and the bands that exist for them and, like all good stories, it has a fine ending with the lady in question ignoring the attentions of the lead singer and running off with the drummer. Bleed is the tune Jack & the Beanstalk have been threatening to write for years, with a subtle tip of the hat to Gram Parsons - the most introspective, melancholy tune Algeri has penned to date. Let's hope this is a direction they explore in the future. This fine group, featuring the versatile Stuart Loasby and the underratted Kevin Burruso, round out the EP's nine tracks with a rowdy cover of These Boots Are Made For Walkin' and four acoustic home recordings. It's Jack time.

Chris Havercroft

Zebra Hype Magazine (Australia)

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A stopgap release comprised of new recordings, outtakes, rarities, and a few live tunes, Vodka Line isn't quite a true Jack and the Beanstalk album. Yet Joe Algeri's knack for rootsy power pop tunefulness is so strong that even minor releases like this are enjoyable. Of the new tracks, the highlights are the ultra-catchy title track, an evocation of Algeri's newfound home in Sweden (the rest of the group still live in Australia, making recording sessions and tours a bit problematical), and the giddy ode to groupie life, She Does the Handclaps. The older material is actually a bit stronger, particularly the rocking Mr. Cynic from a flexidisc in the magazine Bucketful of Brains and a goofy cover of Lee Hazlewood's These Boots Are Made for Walkin'. The last half of the disc is all acoustic, including home demos of 10,000 Sunny Days and Bleed that prove that the strength of Jack and the Beanstalk resides primarily in Algeri's lyrics and melodies, not their surroundings. Vodka Line is strictly for fans, but it's by no means negligible.


Stewart Mason

All Music Guide (USA)
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Collections: 2000s, Australian Artists, CD

Category: Album, CD, New

Type: CD (Jewel Case)


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