Jake Dunn & The Blackbirds: Cosmic Americans
With “Cosmic Americans,” Jake Dunn and the Blackbirds have taken their layered Americana sound, and turned everything up a notch.
The music is more complex, the vocals are grittier. The entire album feels more intense. Jake seems to have given up his wishful heart for a turn on the dark side. Songs like “Thank You” and “Who Do You Hate” give us the familiar sing-along choruses while rowdier songs like the lead single, “Roadside Rest” put you mentally in a dive bar with a bunch of strangers at 3 AM.
With very few breaks in the action, “Cosmic Americans” feels like a deep, dark weekend bender with a rock and roll band that happens to play a few country songs. You can almost picture a band in a van traveling through the night in Nowhere, Ohio to play a sleazy bar, pound some beers, and do it again the next night. They’re playing loud instruments, singing sad songs, and loving every minute of it.
Fans of The Allman Brothers and similar classic rock bands will welcome the addition of Chuck McPeek on guitar. While he’s been with the band on stage for a while now, this is McPeek’s album debut, and the results are so satisfying. A perfect compliment to Dustin’s familiar fuzzed out Marshall and Les Paul combo, Chuck uses Telecasters and Strats to provide an altogether different sound. The impact of his playing can be heard throughout the album, but the two really shine when they share lead work with harmonies that take the songs to full-on rock and roll territory.
Jesse (drums) and Bobby (bass) provide perfect backing vocals in all the right places to help hook basically every chorus deep in your ears for days to come. You might even find yourself singing along to their parts, with Jesse especially delivering some powerful lines throughout the album.
A special moment comes on the back half of the album, with the story-telling heavy hitter, “Sins to Come.” After setting the scene with a calm, minor progression for the first minute and a half, things pick up and lead to a chorus of slammed, ringing open guitar chords, with lyrics straight out of a Waylon Jennings tune, telling a story of false murder accusations.
Most of the songs on this album come in around the 5:00 minute mark, which leaves plenty of time for deep storytelling and long, twisting guitar breaks. The songs never seem to overstay their welcome, though, giving us just enough of each band member’s talents and cutting to the chase before any sense of wandering comes in to your mind.
The Blackbirds have created an album that feels right at home with artists like Shooter Jennings and The Allman Brothers. Artists that walk the line between country and rock music, taking quick deep dives on either side of the musical spectrum when they feel like it.
“Cosmic Americans” is a full-throttle Jake Dunn and the Blackbirds album. The boys have found their collective sound as a five-piece, and they’re leaning in hard on their talents. Soaring harmonies, screaming guitar duels, and hooks you’ll be singing days later. The best band in the MOV just released their best album yet. Don’t miss it.