Darren Jackson has been making music under various aliases for over 20 years. Carefully rearranging bits and pieces of roughened pop and ramshackle indie rock, he’s been able to provide a constantly shifting insight on what makes these genres so malleable and relevant. An artistic polyglot, he has found himself in the roles of a multi-instrumentalist, composer, engineer, producer, and educator who grew up in a small town in South Dakota before eventually settling in Minneapolis.
He became a fixture of the local scene, working through his rhythmic impulses while under monikers such as Kid Dakota and The Olympic Hopefuls. Through these outlets, he offered an engaging and emotionally resonant avenue through which he, and his audience, could work through specific experiences and the consequences of personal entanglements. He would go on to tour extensively across the US and Europe, sharing the stage with bands like Low, Violent Femmes, and Black Moth Super Rainbow.
Jackson released two albums as Kid Dakota on Low’s Chairkicker’s Union label: 2002’s So Pretty and 2004’s The West is the Future. He paired with Savannah-based Graveface Records for his next three records. And for his latest release, Age of Roaches, he has once again partnered with Graveface to offer a collection of homespun rock vignettes which crumble and shiver and stomp their way through visceral emotional moments and a slew of craggy memories. Taking inspiration from a wide range of artists, including Sparklehorse, Sebadoh, and Pavement, he has constructed a monument to musical interpretation, providing countless melodic angles that reflect the frenzied creativities pulsing through these songs.
And speaking of Low, singer-guitarist Alan Sparhawk describes Age of Roaches:
“I’ve been witness to the sophisticated and rare talent that is Kid Dakota since their debut but was not prepared for this masterpiece. It’s as if all the intent and power of electric music has been condensed down to the purest and most fluid form. Darren Jackson has always been a songwriting inspiration to me, but this record is just pure awe.”
And after hearing the curious intensity of the record’s title track, it’s hard to argue with him. A spiraling whirlwind of martial percussion and drawn-out vocals that wraps itself effortlessly around you, the song plays out like a deconstruction of classic indie rock. There’s even a period about halfway through where the song seems to begin broadcasting from somewhere deep underground, making use of cavernous echoes and muffled dynamics. It’s a clever and immediately compelling switch that catches you completely off guard. We’re eventually brought back up to surface level and allowed to continue on our way, shaken and dizzy but none the worse for wear.
Pre-order the album through the Bandcamp link below.