I’d heard whispering of Denney And The Jets for a few months before I sat down and listened to them; at face value, I already liked them, because I am a huge fan of catchy and flamboyant British pop-rock piano.
Though my first run-through of the Nashville-based group bore no resemblance to the Rocketman soundtrack that I had subconsciously crafted behind their name, the result was equally positive; the craftsmanship of rock n’ roll rang alive and well inside their music, and next to British pop, only earnest rock can make me this happy.
The band is fronted by guitarist Chris Denney, and features a rotating cast of troubadours, including past work with Wes Traylor of Natural Child, Daniel Pujol, and Jake and Jamin Orrall of JEFF The Brotherhood. In synchronicity with the collective spirit of these Nashville frontierman, Denney and The Jets are on the brink of the newest movement of rock n’ roll revivalism; they’re bridging the past sounds of classic rock with a future landscape that is slowly carving itself, once again, into a mainstream existence.
On April 8. Denney and The Jets released their latest album, Mexican Coke, on Burger Records. The album is an amalgamation of expected subject matter set to a jangling southern-rock soundtrack. It’s obvious that Denney has lived a fast and gritty lifestyle, scoping out the holy trifecta of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, and he doesn’t hold back in sketching the authenticity of these experiences in Mexican Coke. As he tells Brooklyn Vegan, the record centers around “Smokin’, Drinkin’, Cocaine, Youth, Rodeo Clowns, Fucking Around, Acquittal, The Blues, Family, Being Broke, Pain Pills, Hangovers, Hookers, Strength, Getting High, Addiction, Living, Dying…” They’re not new themes for rock music, but they’re certainly always going to be relatable, and Denney creates a caricature of this reckless, spontaneous lifestyle with a strong, unrelenting voice. “By the time I was nine smoking two packs a day, then when I was thirteen, fell in love with Mary Jane,” Denney sings on “Pain Pills.” Largely due to its fast and honest content, Mexican Coke feels a lot like hanging out with an old, experienced friend, whose knowledge supersedes your own, but who, through years of mental expansion and a “do, don’t think” attitude, remains light-hearted and amiable in conversation. There are no pertinent lessons; there’s just an ability to relate.
It’s human nature, and particularly that of music journalists, to classify and categorize our experiences. This is especially true of music that is considered to be ubiquitously “good;” we strive to pinpoint the southern-rock influences, the country inflections, the punk edges and fringes of bluegrass, finding ways to comprehend the exact qualities that make up the quality of a “good” band. Denney and the Jets encompass all of these musical aspects; they are rock, punk, country and bluegrass, tinged in punk and southern twang. But if I had to tell Denney and his Jets one thing, it’s that I’m not looking to analyze, categorize, or finalize you. Really, I just want to be friends with you.