Red Jacket Mine 

Album: Lovers Lookout

Song: The Pose

Credits: Rock Band Relief Production & Testing Ninjas

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About Red Jacket Mine

Seattle band Red Jacket Mine — comprising singer/songwriter Lincoln Barr, guitar/pedal steel whiz Patrick Porter (who also fronts local rockers Explone, and has played in a host of Seattle bands, including Crystal Radio and the Bourbonites), and drummer Andy Salzman — has spent the last four years honing its craft on stages throughout the Northwest, and it shows.

On the heels of their ornate, ambitious debut, Hello, Old Cloud, the band released its sophomore disc, Lovers Lookout, in October 2009, earning glowing reviews and heavy rotation on Seattle’s standard-bearing independent radio station KEXP. The last year has found the band sharing stages with the likes of Alejandro Escovedo, the Minus 5, and Richmond Fontaine.

Cut live to two-inch tape with minimal overdubs at Seattle’s Soundhouse Recording with producer/contributor Ken Stringfellow (The Posies/Big Star/The Disciplines), Lovers Lookout is a work entirely more immediate and accessible than its predecessor. Touching on Hi Records soul (”Such an Easy Thing”), bracing guitar rock (”Childish Things”), snotty bash & pop (”The Pose”), and smoky balladry (”Fascinated”), the album finds Hello, Old Cloud’s often delicate, restrained tenor supplanted by a newfound passion and confidence.

“We set up in the studio just like we play live,” Barr says. “Since making the first album, we’d become a band, and I wanted to capture that without any kid-in-a-candy-store studio artifice getting in the way.”

On their increasingly-rare decision to record to tape, Barr says, “It’s certainly getting to be prohibitively expensive. We could only afford four reels — just enough for an album, really. I kind of felt like, if we wanted to make a record on tape, this could be our last chance. So we went for it, and it was absolutely the right decision. It simplified the process in the best possible way. ‘Is this the take? Because we can only keep one.’ It either is or isn’t. If it feels good, let’s go with it. If not, let’s play it again.”

As on Hello, Old Cloud, Eyvind Kang contributes several characteristically-brilliant string arrangements, but this time around, Kang’s contributions favor in-the-moment spontaneity over graceful composure. Nowhere is this more evident than on the hazy esoterica of “Apricot Moon,” where Kang’s viola wrestles fellow guest Ian Moore’s angular, Tom Verlaine-meets-Hubert Sumlin guitar for dominance, consummating in a glorious cacophony of wood and wire. Moore also lends his signature keening falsetto to this track, providing Lovers Lookout with one of its most haunting moments.

With a knockout record in the can and an incendiary live show to back it up, Red Jacket Mine appear destined for the breakthrough their growing number of fans have expected all along. Beyond that, there’s no dramatic story of tragedy and triumph. The fellows in Red Jacket Mine are reasonably content, and why shouldn’t they be? The story is the music. And the music is good.

Like what you hear? Check out the rest of the album!