The first time I saw Heaven’s Jail Band play was also the first day that I met Marissa, in a mid-November warm front that carried through her Lockeland Springs backyard. This afternoon lunch break allowed me a venerable taste of what I had been missing in New York during my first complete year in the south; Marissa, a music writer who exuded the urban savvy and attractiveness of someone who had recently left Manhattan, and Heaven’s Jail Band, a Brooklyn-based rock group whose raw, tight melodies harkened back to midnight subway rides between Union Square and Atlantic Avenue.
You probably know the ensuing result of this late Autumn introduction between two New York transplants; Marissa and I quickly became a necessary family, navigating a southern world void of sushi delivery, but saturated with an extensive musical menu, and out of this exploration we became partners in writing out our experiences, and listening to yours.
Heaven’s Jail Band, led by Francesco Ferorelli, has ever since been the soundtrack that underscores the spark of Lockeland Springsteen. With a sound that is simultaneously lumbering and delicate, stitched together in a sobering minor key, their 2012 Angel Maker release is a cohesive collection, made to accompany us along our most sinister or fragile rides. From the intricate darkness of the title track, laced in grungy guitar riffs and the desperate rumbling of Ferorelli’s baritone, to the soft resignation of the repetitive “Posion Ivy,” the album serves as a trusted companion to the darker shades that plague any state of mind.
Their latest album, Ace Called Zero, was released on August 26 of this year and produced by Phosphorescent– the first work of another artist’s that Houck volunteered to work on, due to an understandable admiration for Ferorelli’s concise and emotive songwriting ability. A true advocate of the age-old writing technique “less is more,” Ferorelli uses minimal language to underscore the most burdensome personal emotions and collective climates that plague our current society. “Ace Called Zero” undertakes a two-fold exhibition of human emotion; Ferorelli exorcises the cores of desolation in an individual’s soul, as well as the despairing modern elements that plague the universal one.
“Ace Called Zero is born of a dark and doomed climate,” he’s said. “Pick up the newspaper and it’s inescapable: ecological collapse is fact, financial inequality has become modern feudalism, violence and exploitation across asymmetrical timezones are de facto conditions…but I stress this is not a ‘political’ record. The collapse is personal as well as collective. The final song ‘Children’s song’ encapsulates this idea. An apocalyptic lullaby sung to a child about a now extinct species that we can still visit in our dreams.”
But the darkness in Heaven’s Jail Band is never without the humor and irony of softly placed rhythms and melodic, echoing guitars, making their latest album a digestible foray into the haunting apocalyptic state in which we’ve found ourselves. It’s a cohesive reminder that, despite a slumbering society that appears devoid of compassion and authentic communication, there remain people that have a distinctly human reaction to the increasingly inhumane.
As the fall steadily approaches, I couldn’t be more excited that our trusted companion, the New York soundtrack that has stood steadily by my side since that November lunch break three years ago, are returning to the Stone Fox this Friday, 9/26.