Vermont: if it were up to me, I’d kick it out of the Union. Personally I can’t think of a single reason why you’d want to go there, unless you’re a ski nut and your idea of a good time is to plummet down a steep slope on a skinny pair of sticks, hit a snow-covered root, sail 50 yards ass over ankles into a maple tree, before slowly sliding, flat as a cartoon character, down said maple tree into a 9-foot snowdrift, there to slowly succumb, every bone in your body broken, to hypothermia.
Ah, but I hear you saying, Vermont gave us Phish! Yes, and we’ve been frantically searching for the returns desk ever since. Fortunately, the Live or Die State has given us one great thing, and I’m certainly not talking about nutball Mormon patriarch Joseph Smith. No, I’m referring to the Happy Jawbone Family Band.
The Brattleboro-based psych-folk outfit produces raw, shambolic, and defiantly lo-fi songs that sound every bit as shaggy as Scooby Do’s stoner sidekick. But HJFB is no free-form psychedelic band. Its sound may be ragged, but it knows how to do what all great bands do—namely, write great songs. A subversive cadre of covert popsters, Happy Jawbone Family Band creates songs that are anything but the tossed-off affairs they appear to be upon first listen.
Info on the Happy Jawbone Family Band is hard to come by, because it takes great delight in cloaking itself in absurdist mystery. Take the band’s “biography” on Facebook: “We were all born in a bathtime suicide mission. Nothing was left but a pair of sunglasses that are still bleeding to this day. At the stroke of midnight you can hear them sing out of desperation.” One thing I do know is that it members met (aptly enough) at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. (I attended said school for a semester, before being kicked out for being corporeal.)