The New York Times says, "Jackpot is one of California's greatest unknown bands."
Les Rock Mazazine in Paris, France says that "Jackpot is quite simply the best rock band in the world right now. Jackpot comes on like a lo-fi Wilco, with the singer Rusty Miller rasping one clever verse after another."
Rusty Miller - vocals / guitar
John Gutenberger - bass
Mike Curry - drums
Lee Bob Watson - keyboards / guitar
"If the musical group Jackpot were a test tube baby, it would be perfectly deformed with two heads and no place to run", says Rusty Miller, vocalist and songwriter of the band Jackpot has spent the last 7,000 years touring through the sweaty wastelands of America, playing to packed and empty bars alike. From having all of their instruments stolen in Austin to playing interesting European drunk-fests where Dutch freaks know all of the words to the songs, Jackpot has remained under the mainstream radar.
The latest album F+, on Surfdog Records, is their most natural effort to date. Singer/songwriter Rusty Miller doesn't have much to say about his record. It really speaks for itself. It's as if it says: "Hello everyone. I am the record. I am cool. Listen to me. You will not be sorry."
F+ is the culmination of Jackpot's musical evolution, which dawned in Sacramento in 1996 with Boneville, a humble 4-track recording, to 2000's Weightless, and 2002's Shiny Things. Old Jackpot fans will not be disappointed with this latest musical endeavor. F+ continues to spout out that "who cares" charm present in all of the previous albums. Only now there's a casual confidence to the tunes that borders on swagger, likely the result of almost endless touring. Though the band has been lumped in with this and that genre since they first burst onto the Sacramento music scene, the truth is Jackpot's actual sound is hard to pin down. That's part of the master plan. "I hate it when bands have records where every single song is just a different version of the last," Miller remarks. Formula is the last thing you'll find here. To be sure there are echoes of this and that. Exile era Stones. Buffalo Springfield. Early Lennon. Faces. Maybe a bit of Booker T groove. Basically all the good stuff. F+ is a record in that tradition.
From the first song, "Adventures Galore", in which Miller combats sadness with a nighttime walk and headphones, to the last track- "Charlie Watts is God", a 7 minute crescendo praising the ability of rock to brighten your lame life, F+ is a musical dichotomy. The record tries to find the beauty in failure and the failure in beauty. The song "Airplanes and Secrets" sums this theme perfectly with the line, "the jokes they keep on coming, like a cross-eyed sniper." It's a dizzying mix of music. Take for example the pounding rock of the distorted fuzzed out and orchestral "If We Could Go Backwards." Or the acoustic guitar and three part harmonies of "Long Gone" with the gorgeous melancholy pop chorus and Lou Reed/Velvets vibe of "Upside Down."
Electronica touches haunt the edges of "Windshield Wipers." Meanwhile "Headlights" wah wah laden funk breakdown is a stellar sidebar, and "When We Get Together" sounds like a lost collaboration between Henry Mancini and Tom Waits. Miller isn't far off the mark when he says "One of my favorite things about the album is that range of styles and emotions that are in the songs. It's resulted in an album where maybe "Windshield Wipers" could be a hit, and also maybe "If We Could Go Backwards," but on different format radio stations."
Though Jackpot falls in the fad-avoiding vein of Pavement and Neil Young, they may still appeal to the Pete Yorn or My Morning Jacket fan. Their latest recording is not a retro reinvention. It is simply a great record. Jackpot can play the Vans Warped Tour or a John Mayer fueled sorority party. This musical versatility is the reason they haven't conquered the world, and exactly why you will love them.
"We want to play as many rock shows as makes sense," states Miller, "But we want to put a lot of emphasis on those acoustic performances to really promote the songwriting of the whole thing. This is the album I'm proudest of."
He's got good reason to be proud. In just over 4 years Jackpot has released an equal amount of inspired music, continually trumping expectation. "I just think this record is great for driving, or Friday nights at 4 o'clock in the morning," Miller says jokingly, but he's right. F+ is an album that sets moods, it's adrenaline rush tempered by a songwriting flair with an emphasis on the hook. It's a collection of songs which reveals more with each listen. And when was the last time you could say that about a new release?
Praise for Jackpot:
"ONE OF CALIFORNIA'S GREATEST UNKNOWN BANDS. . . WITH SINGER AND GUITARIST RUSTY MILLER RASPING ONE CLEVER VERSE AFTER ANOTHER."
- New York Times
"JACKPOT MAY JUST END UP BEING HUGE IF THEY DON'T WATCH IT."
- L.A. Weekly
"…AN ALLURING BLEND OF VINTAGE POP AND DOWN-HOME LYRICISM."
- San Francisco Examiner
"SACRAMENTO'S JACKPOT IS ONE OF THE BEST, RAWEST BANDS TO COME OUT OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA IN RECENT YEARS."
- San Francisco Chronicle
"YOU HIT THE JACKPOT, BABY! THERE ARE GOOD BANDS, AND THERE IS THE CREAM OF THE CROP. . . RUSTY MILLER AND COMPANY PROVE THEY'RE IN THE LATTER CATEGORY."
- Sacramento News & Review