2014 was a watershed year for Piqued Jacks, a funky, unpredictable band of Italian alt-funk rockers boldly and wildly committed to, in their words,

“being able to speak without impediment, having sex in the most intense way possible and expressing ourselves 100 percent.”

After wrapping up a whirlwind promotional tour in Texas – 50 shows, 40 venues, including South by Southwest 2014 – they released the popular “double single” of “Upturned Perspectives” (which showcased their trademark funky alternative style) and “No Bazooka” (with a more experimental, new wave Eurovibe) which earned them placement on the home page of the CMJ Network website for two weeks.

Since bidding farewell to Texas – they promise they’ll be back there to perform throughout the region later in 2015 – E-King (lead vocals, piano), Penguinsane (guitar, backing vocals), littleladle (bass, backing vocals) and ThEd0g (drums, backing vocals) have been holed up in their tiny Tuscan village of Borgo a Buggiano working on an ambitious, sonically expansive new project with a title, Climb Like Ivy Does, which begs explanation. The mythical Ivy is an innocent young girl exploring through each song different aspects of a perfect imagined world where all beautiful things have been preserved and life has been spared the ravages of violence and devastation. She is the driving center point for the “eight tracks, eight landscapes” that roll from the symphonic rock opener “Reign of Clouds” to the haunting and mystical ghost track “When Glances Meet.”

A group of childhood friends, Piqued Jacks essentially launched in 2006, before any of them were serious about a career in music. One day in rehearsal, someone dropped a bass and the damaged jack resembled a “boner” and they felt the sexual allusion perfectly suited their early sound. After a few years of honing in on the edgy, melodic sound that came to define them, they hunkered down and in 2010-11 released two EPs that received solid airplay on Rai 1 and Radio Rai 1 in Italy. Producer, three time Emmy winner and Grammy nominee Brian Lanese (of the band Permanent Ability) heard their music online and invited them to L.A. to record the 2013 EP Just A Machine with them. Before heading for Austin, Piqued Jacks played a successful release party at the Capanno Blackout, a top Italian venue for underground music, in addition to shows at the Marea Festival (that also hosted Mogwai and Dream Theater) and Rock in Roma (the same night as Atoms for Peace).

Artwork Climb Like Ivy DoesAs Piqued Jacks says in their promotional video for Climb Like Ivy Does, they’ve returned home to their origins and created a new compromise between power and sweetness. The band fashions slightly less funky but more diverse atmospheres than on their previous works, adding strings, organ, generous swatches of piano, glockenspiel, bells and synthesizer. As E-King, whose real name is Andrea Lazzeretti, says,

“Even the place where we recorded had to be special. We came back to Italy into the Tiny and warm studio where we made our very first demo.”

The beautiful, multi-textured artwork and package design, by their artist friend Lapo, features the band in a multitude of inspiring Italian settings. The photos and artwork connect to the atmosphere and vibe of each tune, offering a specific landscape for Ivy to explore.

On the slowly building opening track, which bubbles with intrigue before exploding into a power rock tune and later a mini-symphony, the little girl finds the legendary “Reign of Clouds,” that the ancients built to save the best things on earth. E-King’s inspiration for the song was the beautiful landscapes and low hanging clouds he experienced on an enchanted trip he took to Scotland. Another key track is the alternately mystical and blistering first single “Romantic Soldier,” about a man overcoming obstacles and fighting for the things he loves.

Reflective of the eco-consciousness of Just A Machine, Piqued Jacks includes a hidden eco-message in “Beehive,” asking the emblematic question, “Who’s gonna make life bloom” if all the bees are dying?” Ivy’s deeper emotional journey comes to life on two thematically related tracks, the melodic pop-rocker “Home is Forever” (penned while the band was in Texas, missing their families) and the powerhouse scorcher “Gift Handed Down For Generations,” about passing down knowledge from fathers to sons so that one’s roots can always be celebrated. As E-King says,

“The whole album will be the compass to orient yourself in this new world and its sounds without forgetting about North, your origins, about what’s been handed down to you. You, in turn, have to pass on.”

Author: Mr. Hood Critic

Hood Critic Magazine was founded by Holland D. Witherspoon in Bossier City, Louisiana 2013. HOOD CRITIC MAGAZINE was created to cover up and coming unsigned independent artist.