Caleb Landry Jones, “Gadzooks Vol. 1”

Caleb Landry Jones
Gadzooks Vol. 1
SACRED BONES
7/10

Texas-born actor Caleb Landry Jones has come to be known for playing idiosyncratic characters on film and TV series, appearing in titles including Get Out and Twin Peaks: The Return. Like that presence on film, there’s a similarly quirky persona on display on his new album, Gadzooks Vol. 1—Jones’ funhouse follow-up to his 2020 psych-rock debut The Mother Stone—where each interrelated song serves as a madcap one-man show within a cosmic, comic drama. Like a circus show, Gadzooks Vol. 1 presents a musical reality that’s distorted and far out. Featuring zany personas, there’s a vaudeville feeling to the record vocally and instrumentally—the Sgt. Pepper’s-era Beatles vocal quality to the singing on “Yesterday Will Come” not only gives this record playfully surreal vibes, but reveals the magical mystery tour experience it has in store

The instrumentation here is not only compatible with the kind of roles Jones has played on film, but feels like an extension of them. Without merely repeating the past, Gadzooks explores the limits of psychedelic music. The fact that there are so many details in this rich and textured sonic realm makes the listening experience different from any other album within the genre, offering plenty of replay value. There’s a sense of listening to a stage or screen production here—on “For a Short Time,” for example, there’s a distinct baroque element to the sounds. On “This Won’t Come Back,” clocking in at 20 minutes, there are so many unpredictable twists in the highly experimental track that it feels like several songs mixed into one—after listening to a record full of whacky moments, this song doubles down on that energy if only due to its winding run time. 

Gadzooks certainly lives up to its promise of delivering a different kind of psychedelic record. While it’s not uncommon for actors to make music, what differentiates Jones’ latest release is how innovative it truly is. He’s not only exploring different terrains musically in terms of psychedelic sounds, but is reinventing those sounds in a way that always feels new. Actors on screen might read someone else’s dialogue and follow the director’s guidance, but here on Gadzooks, Jones has curated a wonderland experience that’s hard to attribute to anyone else.  

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