the jigsaw seen | Zenith

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Rock: Modern Rock Rock: Psychedelic Moods: Mood: Weird
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Zenith

by the jigsaw seen

Modern, psychedelic pop rock with elements of Brit Pop, the 60s and snappy emo, sugar-coated in melody.
Genre: Rock: Modern Rock
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. Letter To The Editor
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4:30 $0.99
2. I'm With You
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2:42 $0.99
3. Celebrity Interview
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4:09 $0.99
4. When You're Pretty
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4:12 $0.99
5. Tight Lips
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4:51 $0.99
6. Fiddlesticks
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4:29 $0.99
7. Girl On A Red Velvet Swing
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3:08 $0.99
8. Whore Kiss
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3:09 $0.99
9. Persephone Again
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2:17 $0.99
10. If My Eyes Offend You
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3:05 $0.99
11. Big Hand
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Co-founders Dennis Davison (ex-United States of Existence) and Jonathan Lea (ex-Revolver) originally met in 1986 after Lea answered an ad Davison had placed in a local paper. Davison had been looking for a lead guitarist to join his then-current band Playground, whose members had moved to L.A. from Maryland. The duo's friendship flourished into a longtime partnership thereafter. In 1989, Davison and Lea disbanded Playground and formed Jigsaw Seen. Drummer Teddy Freese (ex-Yipes!, who had a Top 100 hit with their cover of the Beach Boys' "Darlin'," ex-Spanic Boys) joined in 1993, followed by bassist David Nolte(ex-the Last) in 1996. They gigged around L.A., attracting the attention of the New Jersey-based Skyclad Records, which issued their debut album, Shortcut Through Clown Alley, in 1990. This was followed by a five-song EP, My Name Is Tom, in 1991. The band then toured the U.S. (the Smashing Pumpkins even opened for them once). In 1993, Skyclad folded. At the time, Davison and Lea had been compiling Melody Fair: Bee Gees Tribute, a tribute to the early Bee Gees, which featured their cover of the title track. Davison and Lea then brought the project to the L.A.-based Eggbert Records and its successful release in 1994 led to future tribute projects. In the mid- to late '90s, in fact, Jigsaw Seen contributed to several various-artist tribute albums. In 1995, Eggbert released a Hollies tribute album, Sing Hollies in Reverse, which featured their splendid cover of "On a Carousel." They also recorded covers for two Del-Fi tributes: their CMJ-charting cover of "Baby Elephant Walk" was a highlight on Del-Fi's 1996 Henry Mancini tribute Shots in the Dark; and in 1998, their version of "Luci Baines" (originally recorded by Arthur Lee's pre-Love band, American Four) appeared on Delphonic Sounds Today!, a compilation of contemporary artists paying tribute to vintage Del-Fi artists. Their version of the Left Banke's "Desiree" was the lead-off track on 1999's A Tribute to the Left Banke: Shadows Breaking Over Our Heads. Meanwhile, Jigsaw Seen had continued recording tracks for its second full-length album; unfortunately, it would be five years before critically acclaimed Zenith would be released on the band's own Vibro-Phonic label (a year earlier, a various-artists compilation, Listen and Learn With Vibro-Phonic, had been issued to rave reviews). Zenith was nominated for a Best Packaging Grammy and was picked up for distribution in the U.K. and Japan. In April 2001, Davison and Lea's acoustic tour of Great Britain resulted in a limited-edition six-song live CD, Perfformiad I Mewn Cymru (Performance in Wales), released by Vibro-Phonic in August 2001. In addition to his role in Jigsaw Seen, Lea has also played with L.A. pop maven Kristian Hoffman and ex-Bongwater vocalist/actress Ann Magnuson. He also contributed guitar to unfinished Pete Ham studio demos for the posthumous release of 1997's 7 Park Avenue and 1999's Golders Green. Bassist David Nolte has produced and/or co-written albums by David Gray and Maria McKee. Lea and Nolte have also played in Rufus Wainwright's and Dave Davies' (of the Kinks) touring bands. Songs Mama Used to Sing was released in 2002.


Reviews


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CMJ


In recent years, the Jigsaw Seen has been a part of tribute albums honoring the Hollies, the Left Banke and the ('60s-era) Bee Gees, and two of its members backed Kinks guitarist Dave Davies on a solo tour. All of which says a lot about Zenith. Yes, power-pop is the ticket here, and this band does it uncannily well, echoing Big Star-obsessed bands like Teenage Fanclub, Matthew Sweet and the Posies. In fact, those artists are actually the Jigsaw Seen's contemporaries; the band's last disc was released in 1991, and they've since worked with the likes of Ann Magnuson, the Wondermints and Rufus Wainwright. The Seen's finely honed harmonies and guitar work deliver all the finesse that the style requires when combined with neo-baroque melodies, gently plucked violins and harmonium. Though the group clearly reveres its influences, it manages to stake out its own territory as well. Here's hoping it won't be another nine years before the next album.
- Amir Hijazi: CMJ New Music Report Issue: 693 - Nov 27, 2000

L. A. Weekly


Well, it’s about damn time. Ten years after the release of their full-length debut, Shortcut Through Clown Alley, the Jigsaw Seen finally serve up a second long-player. Oh sure, there’s been the occasional live appearance, a few singles, a five-song EP, and contributions to various compilations and tribute albums to fill the void, but only card-carrying members of L.A.’s mid-’90s pop scene and subscribers to The Ptolemaic Terrascope were aware of most of them. Now, just when you were about to lose all faith in modern psychedelia and cast your fate to the new Yanni CD, the Jiggies have emerged from their self-imposed exile, proffering Zenith like a thorny, 11-track bouquet.

As we useta say back in the Gulag Archipelago, it was worth the wait. Head Seensters Dennis Davison and Jonathan Lea obviously feel a great affinity for the darker side of late-’60s British psych-pop — think “Every Christian Lionhearted Man Will Show You” by the Bee Gees crossed with the Move’s “Cherry Blossom Clinic,” and you’ve got the basic melodic template — but re-creating the bad trips of Swinging London isn’t quite where they’re at, baby. While Syd Barrett and his paisley-fried counterparts found their inspiration in Lewis Carroll and Victorian fairy tales, there’s something about Zenith that harks all the way back to the Puritan settlements of 17th-century New England. The targets of “Letter to the Editor” and “Celebrity Interview” are certainly contemporary, but Davison delivers his harsh appraisals with the cold-eyed fury of a Salem witch-hunter, while most of the songs possess a dour sense of humor that could only be born of numerous cold, hard winters. Lea employs an impressive (and always tasteful) array of guitar tones throughout the album, and his jangling 12-strings and echoing e-bows conjure up visions of barren trees and ghostly apparitions. Don’t be fooled by the festive artwork on the cover — this is definitely a record to haunt houses by.

But if creepily evocative lyrics and soundscapes aren’t your particular bag, you can always just get off on Zenith’s well-crafted songs. Though some of these tracks date back half a decade or more, they hang together remarkably well; every odd-numbered song is laced with a sure-fire hook or three, while the even ones (most notably “Fiddlesticks” and “If My Eyes Offend You”) reveal their true charms after repeated spins. Nice job, guys. See you again in 2010? (Dan Epstein)

Comes With A Smile (UK)


It’s been nine years since the last full length album from this LA band, and Zenith comes unreservedly recommended. This studio-friendly band mix a heady cocktail with the rare ability (nowadays at least) to vary their approach and handle all kind of musical styles keeping the listeners on their toes at all times as they twiddle their mellotrons, stylophones, optigans, analog synths and e-bows. The Abba-esque piano breaks on the opening track Letter to the Editor and the following catchy, groove-based I’m With You set the pace and warm you for thrills yet to come. Other favourite tracks include the pure pop gem Girl on a Red Velvet Swing and the dark melancholic If My Eyes Offended You. In a perfect world this album would be filed next to Jellyfish in the burgeoning Power Pop section of any given record store, be hailed a classic and sell enough for these studio rats to get their act into a nearby venue.
Torbjorn Wickman
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001