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High On Jackson Hill

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Album Review

Immaculate Machine refined their sound significantly during the two years between their debut album, 2005's Ones and Zeroes, and their sophomore effort, 2007's Fables, and if the difference isn't quite as striking on their third full-length, 2009's High on Jackson Hill, its clear that the rough and tumble side of the band's musical personality is becoming less prominent as they dig deeper into the influences of vintage pop and acoustic singer/songwriter material. Brooke Gallupe can still crank up his guitar when the song calls for it, like "Neighbors Don't Mind" and "He's a Biter," but even on those tunes, the pure pop hooks of the former and the glam rock gestures on the latter put their rock moves into a more sophisticated context, and when Kathryn Calder embraces her inner folkie on "You Destroyer," it comes together so seamlessly that it's one of the album's most sublime moments. Even when the band leans into something broadly anthemic on "Sound the Alarms" or dares to show an R&B influence on "Primary Colours," they sound more comfortable and confident than before, and the more easygoing sound suits them well even if it does drain a bit of nervous energy from the performances. Immaculate Machine cut High on Jackson Hill in an improvised studio set up in a home in Victoria, British Columbia with Colin Stewart at the controls, and the sound is ideally suited to the group regardless of the volume and tempo of the music; if the more casual feel means this doesn't have quite the same impact as Fables, the high points are as good as anything this band has ever released to the public, and the ethereal "And It Was" and smart, Modern Lovers-influenced "Only Love You for Your Car" suggest this band should never set foot in a real recording studio again. High on Jackson Hill doesn't quite trump Fables the way that album outclassed its precursor, but it's hardly accurate to call this a disappointment — Immaculate Machine are still one of Canada's most gifted and pleasurable young bands, and this album shows they continue to grow in interesting, compelling ways with each release.

Biography

Formed: October, 2002 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canad

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Immaculate Machine -- taken from a Paul Simon song -- is an indie rock trio from Victoria, British Columbia. Longtime friends Brooke Gallupe (guitar/vocals), Kathryn Calder (keyboard/vocals), and Luke Kozlowski (drums/vocals) formed the band in October 2002. The trio self-released The View EP in 2003 and the full-length Transporter in 2004. At a show in Vancouver, the band caught the attention of Mint Records, who signed the band in spring 2005 and released Ones and Zeroes later that year (an EP...
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High On Jackson Hill, Immaculate Machine
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