Call Me Your Man
Jump Back Jake
Originally from the Northeast — Jersey-reared, Connecticut-educated, and, for a time, a Brooklyn resident — singer-songwriter-guitarist Jake Rabinbach, nevertheless, has a serious jones for Southern soul music. It's what led him to move to Memphis four years ago and inspired the early music of the group he formed here, Jump Back Jake. Unapologetically reveling in the sounds of classic soul, the band has been a welcome entreaty to the city’s white rock bands — too long stuck in “artsy” mode — to once again delve into the raw, sensual pleasures of R&B. But when committed to tape, as on their 2008 full-length debut Brooklyn Hustle/Memphis Muscle, Jump Back Jake’s soul withered, suffering in comparison to the real thing.
On the new EP Call Me Your Man, Jump Back Jake has fixed that, just as garage rock bands of the ’60s like the Box Tops did; by using soul as a jumping off point, not an ultimate destination. No doubt taking a cue from his other gig in the more experimental Francis and the Lights — a group, made up of some of Rabinbach’s former Wesleyan University classmates — the songs on Call Me Your Man have more dimension than past efforts.
With its bouncy double time beat, the opening version of the title track (it’s reprised in acoustic form at the tail end) has you thinking it’s going to be a Sam & Dave raver, but the melody is pure pop rock. Flipping the formula, “Rose Colored Coffin” begins with wicked rock-god guitars before settling into an unsettling blues groove. The MC5-inspired mania of “If I Ever Go Back” and the straight-up jangly-guitar alt-rocker “Tara” round out this tease of a record that is overflowing with its own sort of soul.
Hearts On Parade
Memphis favorite son and Renaissance man Justin Timberlake has been getting rave reviews of late, not for his music (it’s been four years since FutureSex/LoveSounds, JT. Don’t you think its about time for another record?) but for his acting in David Fincher’s Facebook expose, The Social Network. Timberlake is no stranger to the cameras. In fact, if you go on YouTube you can find one of his earliest television appearances: A 10-year-old Timberlake performing Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract” at the Germantown Festival with fellow pre-pubescent entertainer Ashley Arrison. Nine years later, everyone knows Timberlake but what happened to his singing partner?
Now splitting time between Nashville and Los Angeles, Arrison has built an impressive resume as a backup singer for a diverse roster of artists, including Radney Foster, Badly Drawn Boy, and Lindsay Lohan. And now she has made her solo debut with Hearts On Parade.
The former Memphian is venturing onto well-trodden territory with this slickly produced collection of mellow pop-rock tunes. The first single, album opener “Trying To Help You Out,” gets an assist from Arrison’s pal Kelly Clarkson, who co-wrote the tune and sings backup, but sounds more like a recycled Sarah McLachlan track. And glimmers of early Jewel shine through several tracks, including the strings-driven “The Hard Away.” But derivations aside, the singer shows enough songwriting skill and vocal mastery to make the argument that there were two future stars sharing the Germantown stage all those years ago.