Creatures is the fourth studio album from Jack the Radio. It’s a fourteen song mix of southern rock, blues and country filled with a lot of heart and positive messages. For this release, Jack the Radio has paired with comics company A Wave Blue World to create an ambitious album/comic book experience. This, of course isn’t the first time music has been paired with a visual medium. Recent examples like Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire’s Secret Path, or Stone Sour’s House of Gold and Bones comic series, or even Neil Peart and Kevin Anderson’s novel accompaniment to Clockwork Angels come to mind. This one, however, is different in that Jack the Radio has invited a number of different creators to bring their individual songs to life. It is a tapestry of visions. Like those other brilliant examples, this one is visually stunning. Upon listening and reading, does it hold up? Metalhead Mundy and I dig in to find out.
Electric Haze and Introduction from George Hage
Steve: This is the only song without an illustrated story. Instead Mr. Hage gives us the intro to the issue and explains the concept. Electric Haze, like the intro, has no story or lyrics. It simply serves as a bluesy sampler for what’s to follow. The song starts with a slow driving beat and heavy guitars. It breaks shortly into it and leads into the slightly funkier Don’t Count Me out.
Don’t Count Me Out – art by Brandon Graham
Steve: First of all, Don’t Count Me Out is an outstanding song with a bluesy sound, smooth vocals, and a positive outlook. The sequential art is spot on here with the lyrics serving as narration. Graham interprets the animals hanging out in a clever way and shows the moon secretly “conspiring” which adds to the battle for our protagonist Jack. As the song climaxes following Jack’s fall, the art show’s the metaphorical and literal fall ending with Jack breaking the fourth wall as he looks up following his fall on the beach, “But don’t count me out.” Powerful and inspiring. The story ends with a triumphant Jack with his hand in the air, “Walk on.” The marriage of story and music is well executed; the art truly enhances the experience.
Trouble – art by Jorge Corona and Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Steve: Trouble is another song with a positive message. We will have troubles in our life, but we have the strength to persevere. Steel guitar meets keyboards here as Hage sings this slow builder. Jeanne Jolly joins Hage with backing vocals that round out the sound and give it depth. The lyrics here are beautiful and poetic. The story shows the journey through life as a car ride for Jack to his next gig. There are boulders and dinosaurs, and highlights like space flight. Eventually, Jack finds his place at what appears to be a bar, guitar in hand. Cool concept for a simple, straightforward message. I really love the depiction of Jack here with suit and tie, magic eight ball on his keys. Another great entry.