Needle Drop: Mike Jacoby, From London
to Long Beach

Long Beach Calling is the latest album release from SoCal Alt Country rocker Mike Jacoby; its title and that of its corresponding song—as well as its pink-and-green-lettered cover image—offer direct allusion to London Calling, the quintessential career-defining Clash album released in 1979.

London in the late seventies was riddled with cross-class strife, uneven economics, and dissatisfied plebeians. Long Beach, California in 2019—according to Jacoby’s song—is in a similar state, albeit of a mellower and narrower sort. The town, the area, has an element of Golden State beauty but mainly exists in varying states of decay—the truth of which Jacoby’s vocal snarl, and the simultaneous multiple guitar lines that drive the track—some aggressive, some playful—indicate.

“Long Beach Calling” sets the LP-length precedent for humorous songwriting and impressive instrumentals that the listener will experience over the course of eleven original tracks. From the record’s earliest notes, it becomes clear: this is very much a Guitar album. Songs like “Here & Now” and ‘Smile” possess the abundant energy of songs off the Clash’s London Calling album, but musically wear clothes in a style more akin to ’90s rock, in the vein of early Wilco and Monster-period R.E.M.

Hip-sounding vocal harmonies heavy on fourths and snark-laden lyrics, complete with comical commentary on aging that serve as an interesting foil to the music’s youthful energetic sound, provide for this effect. The musically memorable “Hangers (A Christmas Tale)” is perhaps the album’s most outright jokey song, depicting the familiar feeling of holiday gift disappointment. Its message about relationship dynamics goes a bit deeper, in that the singer-narrator’s girlfriend has given him plastic hangers to hang his clothes properly—suggesting an undercurrent of chronic dissatisfaction in everything he does. “Pine Box” undercuts human being’s inherent fear of dying by making light of the after-death reality, and showcases Jacoby’s talent for building complex country soundscapes, here with fiddle and harmonica.

While the title track is chock full of Long Beach, California references, Long Beach Calling’s final two tracks are homages to key players in rock ‘n’ roll history. “Play Like Richards,” a radio-friendly and catchy number, that winks at Maroon 5’s hit single “Moves Like Jagger,” and “Long Live the King,” which serves as a fact-laden ode to Elvis Presley and his remarkable legacy, point to Jacoby’s musical education and what the listener must assume he believes to be of importance to know.

The opening guitar segments of “Play Like Richards” offer a mirror of Keith Richards’s recognizable playing style. But its musical refrain of “you can move like Jagger / I’d rather play like Richards,” seems to offer an original musical creed and a personal artistic vow: that Mike Jacoby, in his musical journey, is more intent upon being a quality musician than merely looking cool. He places more value upon the quality of a song, an album, rather than the potentially superficial aesthetics of performance. He is first and foremost a writer and guitarist, and by authentically identifying as such, he has become more defiant. The kind of defiance that only experience can manifest.

This entry was posted in The TVD Storefront. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • David Kuntz

    Having followed Mike Jacoby for several years its easy to see his continuing evolution from cover-dependent to original artist. His live shows are high-energy exhibits of his masterful guitar play and harmonica interludes. By far, my favorite song on this album is Pine Box which is everything Americana is about. Don’t miss out

  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text
  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text