JIB KIDDER. Was just talking with my friend Zach about his current band CE SCHNEIDER TOPICAL (a duo with Christina Schneider) coming up for HASSLE FEST 6. That’s when he mentioned enthusiastically that he was playing with JIB KIDDER and that I should know about this. I hadn’t heard JK previously despite the discography attached to the moniker stretching back to the mid-00s. Actually his bandcamp states: “No genre, no hometown, hard 2 pin down since Y2K.” Self-penned text no doubt, but despite the discrepancy in date of genesis, it’s so right on about this music, his music. JIB KIDDER.
Reaching backward through the JK bandcamp experience is a many and varied experience. Just last year arrived ETUDES SERIES 1, a handful of spiraling, inwardly twisting guitar/ banjo/ piano compositions. Ear catching and mysterious. Further back there are experiments in rhythmic sound collage and something like sample filled hop-hop instrumentals. There are also song based projects back there on that bandcamp, generally with a country tinge. Many and varied y’all.
The song based releases. That brings us back to the present. Almost the present. This is a case where the STREAM that I am presenting to you is actually not that temporally FRESH. Mid-2013 is when JIB KIDDER (aka Sean Schuster-Craig, from NYC by way of California) released his most recent recording, IV. A split release between GNAR TAPES & BURGER RECORDS, IV is one of the best pop records I’ve heard in some time. Done up in rare style and filled with strange hooks. I could not ask for more. This record feels like the 90s (SUPER FURRY ANIMALS, BECK, WEEN, SUPER FRIENDZ) and the NOW to me. Throw in the 60s as well because I am just getting major HARRY NILSSON vibes from IV (EDDIE CALLAHAN too for that matter). Back to front. Song after song. Different pop styles presented, nailed, stuck straight in your brain. And Zach is playing with this guy. Excellent. Great match.
“Fuckin’ see. Fuckin’ do.” Some of the effects laden lyrical sentiment found on album opener “Breakthru” right there. A minute and a half of strange power pop. I was already sold. “Face of Meat” a chugging riff on power pop again. Lead guitar and keyboards, (leaning into the background) dance around the great main melody. The guitar tone in particular is incredible. A chiming, shimmering and full bodied fuzz expertly accentuating the driving pop that it shares space with. I’m a fan at this point.
Then “Living In U” is delivered. A wonder of a song. Vocal and pedal steel guitar melodies double helix-ing. Yes, here the warmth of pedal steel guitar is introduced on the record for the first time. Terribly underused (probably because few have access), the pedal steel is one of my absolute favorite instruments. And it is a JIB KIDDER secret weapon. Used quite a bit on IV from this point forward, the instrument lends a very fresh, and exotic/ otherwordly quality to JK’s music. When combined with the slightly affected vocals found throughout these proceedings things get rather hazy, quite woozy, approaching ARIEL PINK-like sound spaces but from a new angle and direction.
My last song comments will be for “Really Disappear” but I could certainly go on. More pedal steel slo-mo pop here (this vibe fills the record’s back end). Chorus and pedal steel. What the fuck?!? This is like a dream I had, or at least one that I wanted to have. MEAT PUPPETS visit my thoughts as I listen. This song and these songs aren’t really country in any way except for the fact that they borrowed an instrument from that lot. The association between genre & instrument is so cemented though that these songs ARE country. “Indie rock” pop-smithery, psychedelia, and country all dumped on the floor in a heap and gloriously bit by bit floating skyward in just a most incredible arrangement. I am sold! Where do I buy? This is most idiosyncratic pop, but done with the panache, the sure footed-ness (and hooks) that make me feel like a wider audience awaits these brilliant songs and whatever their talented author has next in store for us. I’ll be watching. Waiting. There at the window. Watching JIB KIDDER while he is sleeping. Let me know if you want to come too.