Junk Parlor – Mick Jagger’s Heart
Bay Area indie rockers Junk Parlor – vocalist, rhythm guitarist and acoustic banjo-playing Jason Vanderford, drummer and cajon-player RT Goodrich, violinist Laela Peterson-Stolen, and bassist Tim Bush – have followed up on their 2013 debut Wild Tones and sophomore effort Melusina (2015) with the release of “Mick Jagger’s Heart”, a single from their forthcoming third album.
The track has been described as ‘Acoustic Bohemian Crooner Punk’, and features Leonard Cohen-esque vocals and lyricism against an energetic, eclectic instrumentation (violin, cajon, percussion, drums, electric bass, banjo, and electric guitar) that faithfully recreates “Junk Parlor’s energizing musical collage [which] includes 50’s rock and roll rumbling atop gypsy rhythms, a bit of Gipsy Rhumba, tango, Eastern Euro/Hungarian music, belly dance, and punk” (NoDepression.com, 2016). Vanderford, who claims to have been raised on “rock and roll and punk and everything under the sun”, spent five years recording and touring with gypsy jazz revue The Hot Club of San Francisco – thus amassing an appetite and aptitude for eclecticism that shows through in the band’s name (which was inspired by Vanderford’s collection of vintage furniture and antique pictures during his younger years) and musical output.
Vanderford has noted that “Mick Jagger’s Heart” was inspired by the Rolling Stone’s “Dear Doctor” in its equivocation of heartache and heartbreak with clinical disease: “when the heartache of Leonard Cohen decides to lament under the sun amidst the California surf”. With a backdrop of sunny, upbeat bass line and drum beats, Vanderford walks the listener through the disorientation, anxiety and emotional instability induced by love: ‘Whoa, I might be crazy/ I wish that you could see/ Nothing in this world matters/ When you stand next to me/ I might be crazy/ A little bit insane’.
The chorus calls for respite from all this insanity – ‘Doctor won’t you please tear it out/ And place it in a jar/ Next to Mick Jagger’s heart’, but it appears that Vanderford’s lyrical persona can’t really let go of love’s neurochemical rush: ‘Lover can you, end this charade?/ Cause I’m addicted and I can’t break away/ When our stars, refuse to align/ I’ll linger on until the end of our time’. In true-blue romantic fashion, the song ends with an ode to love’s enduring appeal: ‘All I see is poetry when you / Look at me this way’.
“Mick Jagger’s Heart’s” lyricism and poetry may not be particularly inspired or original, but you don’t need to be a die-hard romantic to appreciate how the vibrant instrumentation which backs the track’s melodies creates a soothing yet unpredictable sonic tapestry that echoes love’s emotional roulette. Vanderford has noted that Junk Parlor’s third album will place more emphasis on vocals and storytelling (“[…] the goal is always telling a great story. I love getting out there and hearing people’s stories and then transforming those into songs that can be interpreted in unique ways by the band, dancers and everyone in the audience that it touches”) – it remains to be seen, however, if they can genuinely match the uniqueness of their eclectic instrumentation in this domain.
By Gus Xie