JOLENE ist die hartnäckigste Band der Welt.

Sie lehnen es schlicht ab, eine Pause einzulegen. Immer wenn man denkt, sie hätten den Höhepunkt ihrer kreativen Phase erreicht (man denke an Antic Ocean von 2000), veröffentlichen sie die satte und eindringliche Power mit ihrem neuesten, bereits vierten Album The Pretty Dive.

Aufgenommen und nur 13 Tagen, bezeugt The Pretty Dive einmal mehr Jolene's Entschlossenheit, simplen musikalischen Formen mit einer weiteren Ansammlung von kraftvollen, genreübergreifenden Songs zu trotzen. Das Songwriter-Duo John Crooke und Dave Burris hatten sich wieder einmal die Verantwortung bei der Produktion geteilt. Das Ergebnis ist ein Album von komplexen Strukturen, angetrieben von einer kantigen, ungehobelten Intensität. The Pretty Dive sollte eigentlich von jedem menschlichen Wesen in der freien Welt gekauft werden.

Dave Burris - guitar, b. vox, keyboards
John Crooke - lead vox, guitar, keyboards, percussion
Mike Kennerly - drums, percussion
Rodney Lanier - keyboards, pedal steel guitar
Mike Mitschele - bass guitar, bass synth, programming

The Cork County Singers - backing vox

Im Frühjahr 2001 fanden sich Crooke und Burris in einem Bungalow am kalifornischen Strand ein, dabei eine Rickenbacker, eine akustische Gibson, ein Vox V15-Verstärker und ein zusammengebasteltes 16 Spur-Aufnahmestudio. Nach der Auswertung einer Masse an neuem Material und der Aufarbeitung von einigen alten Stücken stand der Entschluss fest: es war Zeit für ein neues Jolene-Album. Sie fühlten, dass sie unter Druck stehen mussten, um ihre kreativen Schübe aufrecht zu erhalten, also vereinbarten sie eine maximale Aufnahmesession von zwei Wochen.

Meerluft war wichtig, genau wie die Nähe zu einer wirklich großen Achterbahn, also buchten sie Rob Gainers neu eingerichtetess Sea Note Studio in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Man fühlt überall inThe Pretty Dive die dicke, feuchte Juni-Luft des flachen Landes.

The Pretty Dive zeigt ein weiteres Mal Jolene's größte Stärken: Klasse Songs zu schreiben und sie auf eine interessante Art aufzunehmen. Der erste Song auf dem Album, "Genius, Genius", ist Southern American Jangle Pop. Tracks wie "Discotheque", "Break" und "Falling Up" bringen die Größe zum Vorschein, die in den traditionellen Rock-Strukturen innewohnt, indem sie die komplexe Produktion und die kraftvollen Lyrics kombinieren. Das keltisch angehauchte "New Refrain Detritus" möchte einem aufzwingen, einen Kilt anzuziehen und ein Tänzchen zu wagen. "Me Again" und "Every Dream" wiederum klingen mit Gitarren und satten Melodien wie Brit Pop. Das Album schließt mit "Flying H", das klingt, als wenn Jolene eine Seite aus Paul Wellers Buch "Schließe die Rickenbacker an und drehe den Vox AC 30 bis 11" gelesen hätten - wenn es ein solches Buch überhaupt gibt.


American genre-blending rockers JOLENE return with their second release for Blue Rose Records, The Pretty Dive. The Pretty Dive is the fourth full-length record from the North Carolina quintet, and the follow-up to 1999's critically acclaimed Antic Ocean. Recorded against the shoreline setting of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina over an intensive 13-day period, The Pretty Dive aggressively proves Jolene's determination to defy easy musical labels with another powerful cross-pollination of styles and genres. The band's songwriting duo of cousins John Crooke (lead vocals) and Dave Burris (guitar) have once again shared production responsibilities: the result is a record of complex textures, lush production and an urgent intensity.

Like all good stories, there's a sprinkling of serendipity in the story of Jolene's inception. Frontman John Crooke remembers the moment it all fell into place for him: "I was playing basketball one day while in my first year at University. The ball bounced into a very large outdoor garbage dumpster. I was elected to jump in and rescue it. When I picked up the ball, underneath was a cassette copy of REM 'Fables of the Reconstruction'. I grew up in a very small town in North Carolina and had only vaguely heard of REM and there was no college radio in my town, so the band was pretty foreign to me. The tape was cued to 'Life and How to Live It'. I played it and it changed my life. It was Southern, but it was gothic. It was lazy, but fierce and moving at the same time. Needless to say, I quit the University Basketball team, bought a guitar, started a band, and never looked back."

"The fire had first been kindled with the hand-me-down records of American 70's rock my brother gave me while I was growing up, but even more important were the tapes my cousin Dave passed along to me at family vacations… Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, some early NC punk rock stuff. He was the cool older cousin and he knew people in rock bands. Suffice to say I was getting hooked. Dave and I lost touch over a couple of years during my first years at University, so it was around the time of discovering REM that we reconnected. At that point, Dave promptly began sending me The Smiths, The Jam, Echo and the Bunnymen, U2, the Church, The Chameleons, etc... It was at that time I truly believe that we began forming the creative partnership that defines our music and our vision."

Having shared production duties on an outside project, John and Dave consolidated their musical alliance and, after recruiting long-term friends Mike Kennerly and Mike Mitschele (drums and bass respectively), Jolene came into being. It was soon after their inception in 1995, that the band embarked on their first major tour of America, winning over a staunch grassroots following with their already adept and powerful live performances. A mere six months into their existence, Jolene were spotted at a show in Nashville and snapped up by Memphis-based independent label, Ardent. Their long-playing debut, Hell's Half Acre swiftly followed, garnering praise from journalists and audiences alike.
John vividly remembers the vibe that surrounded the sessions for their debut album: "'Hell's half Acre' was kamikaze!" he recalls. "We'd only been a band for a few months. The timetable was really accelerated, so making a record quickly was priority number one. We plugged our amps in, wrote some songs, and started recording - it was a straight-up rock record with relatively non-linear lyrics. We worked fast and worked hard and I think the record reflects that mindset and emotional set."

Success continued to come swiftly to the band, and eighteen months later, major label interest came to fruition when they were asked to record their next album for Sire Records. In The Gloaming, their second LP, was unveiled in 1998, delivering a dark and brooding masterpiece which saw the band expand to a five-piece with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Rodney Lanier.

And now, following 1999's acclaimed Antic Ocean, comes Jolene's second release for Blue Rose Records, The Pretty Dive released on 19th November. With John Crooke's distinctive vocals at the fore, the collected songs form a strong statement from the man whose "true passion is writing songs. I'm really trying to affect people one way or another. Affecting people in any manner is good - music shouldn't just be disposable."

Always compellingly honest, Crooke and Burris' cathartic lyrics are inspired by deeply personal experiences, many of which they describe as "exorcisms" for them. "The lyrical themes of The Pretty Dive for the most part deal with the coming to terms with and the expressions of disappointment on all levels and how that can empower one's creative muse," explains John. "I normally like the listener to interpret the songs and lyrics as they hear them. That was my favourite part about deciphering Morrissey's or Paul Weller's lyrics. I think a song is like a painting or photograph that you have to stand over for a while to uncover its intent, and just when you thought you'd figured it out, you hear it in a different light and something else rings more obvious."

Crooke's fortuitous find at college has now come full circle, with critics comparing the band's songwiting prowess with such Southern luminaries as Big Star, Vic Chesnutt and (best of all) REM. "In my opinion of how I wanted to do things, REM set the template for being a band from Southern America," says John. "I got it. I understood it. They opened up a way of establishing your Southern geographics without screaming Southern rock, while diving headfirst into British influences that make the music unique and diverse. And they gave songwriters license to write intelligent lyrics -- maybe not always linear, but intelligent and thoughful nonetheless."

While a traditional rootsy twang may occasionally show through in Jolene's music, an aversion to the shackles of the alt-country tag runs deep through their core, their songwriting cannily side-stepping easy categorisation with numerous subtle twists and turns through a host of diverse influences. "To be squeezed into that constrictive genre is akin to the square peg in the round hole situation," says John. "As songwriters, we have much more in common with bands like The Catherine Wheel and The Chameleons than we do with George Jones and the Allman Bros."

And don't be misled by the moniker: apocryphal anecdotes may attribute the band's name to the Dolly Parton classic, but it was actually inspired by John and Dave's great aunt, a Confederate war nurse who remains a formidable figure in the family tree.

JOLENE are: Dave Burris - guitar, backing vocals, keyboards
John Crooke - lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion
Mike Kennerly - drums, percussion
Rodney Lanier - keyboards, pedal steel guitar
Mike Mitschele - bass guitar, bass synth, programming

The Cork County Singers - backing vocals

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