It was late 2012 when we had last checked in with frontman Gabriel Hart, who explained that last yearʼs Four Future Standards EP (described by VICE Magazine as “music to have knife sex to”) was also the gradual bridge to their more grandiose work-in-progress second full-length. Hart ensured that anyone who thought they were any sort of “party band” would be gravely mistaken upon hearing what they had been stirring up in their charred cauldron. Little did he know it would take well over 365 days to finish what he had started, where the stakes were raised, bank accounts drained, sanity/sobriety and sleep compromised, and their longtime rhythm section and one of their back-up singers lost…where towards the end it would cause him and his eight-headed collective to treat it with all the intensity a band would as if it was the last record they would ever record, even though their present locomotive momentum will prove at least that part otherwise.
And what better process to make a record, Meltdown – A Declaration of Unpopular Emotion which Hart describes as a somewhat conceptual “dissection of the personal Apocalypse.” A record whose liner notes cite such patron saints as disparate as philosopher Carl Jung and enfant terrible Francis Farmer as touchstones? But, this is only for the uninitiated to understand – as within the first listen of Meltdown one will soon realize this record is indeed a vast, universal tantrum, where the best path of protest is often to create one’s own atmosphere, to secede from pain through a self-imposed baptism of fire. And, the end inspiration proves once again one must look no further than Jail Weddings’ own twisted, snake-eating-its-tail world theyʼve created.
Meltdown begins somewhat similarly to their 2010 debut Love Is Lawless — Hartʼs lone baritone accompanied by minimal instrumentation slowly building the anticipation that something is about to leave a crater in its wake. But, instead of the Broadway schmaltz approach of their previous effortʼs intro, the song explodes as if they are going into battle, marching drums and ominous war siren back-ups announce that they are going into this nervous breakdown unabashed. And before we get a chance to catch our breath, they blow right into the electric 12-string guitar of “May Today Be Merciful” where Hart sets the real tone of the record as if Echo and The Bunnymen were lost in some bad trip section of L.A.ʼs Paisley Underground scene. Elsewhere, “Why Is it so Hard To Be Good?” lumbers to a start with thunderous early-Swans sounding drums leading a dark lament of our collective penchant to do wrong. Throughout the album there’s chiming power-pop (“Dead Celebrity Party”), somber balladry (“Summer Fades”, “Obsession”), dramatic pageantry that would make Born To Run era Springsteen blush (“Angel of Sleep”) and so many other twists and turns that the album’s dramatic title will make perfect sense.
released 27 August 2013
Meltdown CD's are available through the Jail Weddings bandcamp page.
All songs written by Gabriel Hart
Performed by Jail Weddings
Gabriel Hart - vocals
Jada Wagensomer - vocals
Mary Animeaux - vocals
Kristina Benson - vocals
Hannah Blumenfeld - violin
Marty Sataman - keys
Christopher Rager - guitar
Morgan Hart Delaney - bass
Dave Clifford - drums
Josh Puklavetz, Michael Shelbourn, Austin Hart, Jean-Paul Garnier
Recorded and engineered by Mark Rains at Station House Studio in Los Angeles, CA.
Produced by Gabriel Hart, Christopher Rager, Mark Rains
Mastered by Ed Brooks at RFI Mastering.
Front Cover photography by Jay Oligny
Front Cover concept by Gabriel Hart
Back Cover/insert photography by Caryn Rafelson
Embroidery by Jennifer Hart
Design and layout by Christopher Rager