Western Ballads (Magnificent Records)
By: Alex Steininger
In-FOO-enced by his day job, Foo Fighters' guitarist Chris Shiflett, his brother Scott Shiflett on bass, and drummer Pete Parada, deliver a punk-infused guitar-rock record with Western Ballad.
Following up their EP released under the name Jackson, Jackson United deliver a consistent full-length (including tracks off the EP) here. With the instant guitar-rock hit "All The Way" (which is found on the EP) showcasing Shiflett's ability to rock out and keep the guitars blaring. But still retain a strong sense of melody (much like the Foo Fighters), Jackson United seemed poise to appeal to fans of modern rock and pop-punk. And, most, certainly Foo Fighter fans.
"A Better Life"'s mid-tempo beats give the song time to really showoff Shiflett's pop sensibilities, while "She's Giving In" will have you dancing with its disco-rock groove. Meanwhile, "Unchanged" and, even more so, "Here Comes Hollow" find the band delving into their pop-punk handbag (Shiflett, a busy man, also plays in Me First and the Gimme Gimmes). The latter another potential radio smash hit.
Then there is the classic rock-infused "Pure" and the slightly new wave "Long Shadow", two songs that showcase Jackson United's ability to spread their musical wings, but still sound like a guitar-rock band creating poppy modern rock.
The beauty of Western Ballads is the fact that the band can roam around and include many different influences, all while making sure the record sounds coherent and like them for every second of it. Unlike other bands that get lost when trying to diversity their sound, Jackson United do a damn good job of revolving around them while sounding like guitar-rock no matter what they do.
It's hook-laden, powerful, and the perfect volume for rockers and pop fanatics alike. Shiflett is also a good lyricist, making Jackson United a well-rounded package that will instantly hook you and make you a fan. I'll give it an A.