Jackson Scott could be your friend, that guy on the bus, or even your next door neighbour. He’s definitely not the same-named porn star, or the same Jackson Scott who dated that English actress. Then again, this Jackson Scott isn’t just another someone. Whilst most college dropouts armed with a 4-track barely see the world beyond their bedroom curtains, this one has been creating Melbourne, a seriously special debut record of boundless tales crafted with the precision and dedication of a true musical wunderkind. “I remember riding in the baby seat listening to Nevermind - maybe listening to a junkie sing pop songs subconsciously influenced me as a four year old,” he recalls.
A master welder melting kraut, punk, surf, folk and pop into one psych rock solvent, you could say that for this Jackson, life as a contemporary composer was mapped out from the start. Recalling the ingenuity of fellow home-recording wizard Sparklehorse or leftfield sense of humour of Mellow Gold-era Beck, Jackson has swiftly hushed any mumblings of slacker pop with his clever yet eerie textures and solid direction. Boasting the obscure creative genius that only Tim Burton could bring to a record, Melbourne is the sound of a truly original and extraordinary artist exercising his knack for turning a simple cognitive thought process into an elaborate musical narrative.
On ‘Evie’ Jackson magically transforms Adam and Eve into his own play things; two marionettes acting out roles in just one chapter of the elaborate sub-30 minute, Brothers Grimm style alt-rock novella. Named after the street where Jackson currently lives, Melbourne’s wild lo-fi tale continues with ‘Sandy’; a commentary on the recent school shooting at Sandy Hook; “It’s a dark one,” he admits. “A lot of the songs are about random, metaphysical, weird thoughts that go through my head. The idea of infinity and eternity is pretty huge for me, and if you look at the lyrics and the repetitive nature of the songs, that comes through.”
From the percussion-heavy pop song ‘Any Way’ to spaced-out sonata ‘Together Forever’ hazy 90s guitar licks drip alongside unsettling distortion, layers of echoes and uniquely pitched up, androgynous vocals. “I’ll do weird things with my voice when I sing,” he says. “I like how pitch-shifting sounds otherworldly, it doesn’t sound quite real.” Elsewhere Melbourne’s impact is further created through what’s not there in pushing the 4-track to its outer limits. Recorded straight to tape, each song gives an off-kilter punk vibe and intimacy not too dissimilar to that of Elliot Smith.
Relocating from Pittsburgh before settling in Asheville North Carolina, that same fair city in the Blue Ridge Mountains as Bradford Cox, (“The skies are always really beautiful, and everyone is into being weird and not really giving a fuck about anyone else being weird,” reflects Jackson) it should come as little surprise that Melbourne shares that same intoxicating magical atmosphere and beguiling carnivalesque as Cox’s Atlas Sound project.
But Jackson Scott isn’t merely trying to emulate the sound of his idols. Though he gratefully accepts comparisons to Syd Barrett, Southern icons of self-recorded indie like The Microphones and Elephant 6 bands such as Neutral Milk Hotel this is a man with just as much appreciation for a bit of Weezer and The Pixies as to the odd guilty pleasure. “I’ll just as easily be attracted to some really random pop song, like “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey, and try to figure out why.” he says. “I’m a sucker for really catchy melodies”.
Through every kaleidoscopic turn, Melbourne’s literate and beautiful strangeness unfolds like a walk through Where The Wild Things Are or a stanza of poetry by William Blake offering the perfect antidote to any underground-meets-mainstream indie. Say hello to Jackson Scott; college dropout come musical prodigy success story? Highly likely.