“Grounded in tradition, old-time string band music and mountain blues but with open horizons that take them, subtly, to other parts of the planet, they have a haunting spookiness, an organic pulse, and most importantly a clear vision...Instrumentally they're truly inspiring, getting original textures out of conventional stringband instruments and mixing them with (in this context) oddities like bass ukulele, harmonium, mbira, cello and Vietnamese jaw harp and bau zither. Vocally, they have that lonesome white blues sound which has its ancestry in Dock Boggs and the Carters but again they take it somewhere else...a consistently startling and addictive album."
“Leah Abramson’s utterly spooked tones outdo even the wonderful Gillian Welch.”
"This San Francisco quintet keep true to their old-time string band heart, yet in subtle, weird ways, they exaggerate the slightly-crazed aura of the
rural pre-radio era music. It makes for a haunting, sophisticated trip to Appalachia. Mixing originals and traditional songs flawlessly, this might be the finest band to come out of the string-band resurgence."
"The Crooked Jades are embarrassingly addictive....they grab you by the throat, preach damnation, and move your hips all at once."
"The two adjectives that keep coming to me during repeated listenings to the Crooked Jades are profound and transcendent. I have looked those words up wondering if that’s what I really mean. Profound means “deep” and “intense”. Transcendent means “awe-inspiring” and “moving”. Yes, that’s what I mean. This is visionary music, forged from the raw materials of old-time forms and instruments. I don’t want to get into a discussion of what’s old-time and what’s not; there’s enough ongoing conversation on that subject already. It’s easy to forget, though, that the first old-time music recorded was a mirror of the times the musicians lived in. That was almost a hundred years ago. Here, in the beginning of the 21st century, people in appreciable numbers are feeling as though they’re teetering on the brink of apocalyptic times. Through the lens of tradition, the Crooked Jades are voicing this feeling convincingly and beautifully."
"Depth of quality, performance & passion make this band a cross-generational, cross-genre charmer."
"If you imagine bands like Nickel Creek or Old Crow Medicine Show are made of solid, sparkling silver with a twinkle as seductive as Tony’s Curtis’s wink,
The Crooked Jades are more centuries ’old bronze with a natural air-worn patina and all the mystery of the Mona Lisa’s smile."
"The Jades, in other words, aren’t playing your grandparents’ old-time music. Nor are they performing the stylized stringband music that our revivalist contemporaries adapted four or five decades ago and take to festival stages and recordings into the present moment. This is sepia tones, bent angles, unexpected accents, unanticipated sounds. It’s banjo ukuleles, minstrel banjos, plucked fiddles, bowed basses, Hawaiian slide guitars, harmoniums, Vietnamese jaw harps, pianos played clawhammer-style. It is the familiar embraced by the strange. It is the antique and the modern, in a distinctly idiosyncratic meaning of each. This is a music that feels at once fiercely inside time yet also above and around it. And all of this is accomplished without a hint of rock, electronica, or the other flourishes to which less imaginative folk bands turn when they think they’ve exhausted the language of tradition. Tradition, the Jades insist, speaks in a host of tongues. If you know what you’re doing, you can speak in as many as you’d like, sometimes at once."
"American Gothic for a new age."
"Wild, wooly, totally unpredictable but always tasteful, soulful. They’ve got chords in unexpected places, out of this world harmonies and some of the most powerfully arranged material I’ve ever encountered."
"This young quintet rooted in old-time music toss African and Asian instruments into the usual sawing fiddle, gnarly banjo, guitar and mandolin stew. There are eerie folk songs, instrumentals and a maniacal Vietnamese Jews harp."
"Old-time is enjoying a tremendous national revival, partly due to smart young bands like The Crooked Jades, the Duhks, Uncle Earl, the Mammals, and Boston’s own Crooked Still. But even more, it’s hot because it has existed almost entirely underground for years, preserved as a fun-loving social music, with a fiercly anti-commercial, anti-star vibe that pop-weary young people are eating up with an oaken spoon."
"Hmmm, old-time goes to art school, and unexpectedly discovers a delightfully twisted, deadpan part of its soul. This is Appalachian music that has been re-imagined with enormous reverence and no apparent irony."
"I love The Crooked Jades. Weird, ecstatic music. How can anyone with a brain dislike it? What was the Aldous Huxley line? "Stronger wine, madder music."
"Closer in spirit to Nick Cave or Tom Waits than to most other modern bluegrass acts…"
"The Jades are the perfect combination of fresh energy and raw antiquity, staying so true to the old stuff you feel like you’re hearing ghosts of the past. Yet their performance is vibrant enough that at one point I actually had an honest to goodness religious experience."
"Old-time string music that might appeal as much to the pierced generation as to their great-grandparents, the Crooked Jades are a band of West Coast pickers with equal parts attitude and respect. They transform a form of music that thrives on energy by replacing the coal with musical nukes, along the way evoking the music's original purpose by making the listener want to get up and dance."
"Like fellow Californians Gillian Welch and Creedence Clearwater Revival, San Francisco's Crooked Jades discovered that their roots lie in the hills and swamplands of the Southeast, and have convinced the masses of their questionable lineage with an authenticity that rivals their Smithsonian Folkways heroes."
"The Crooked Jades have brought me back to believing that original thinkers still exist."
"This string-driven San Francisco-based trad outfit is one of the best of the new generation of string bands, infusing old-time hillbilly standards and originals with remarkable verve."
"Lovely music, packed with obscure old-time nuggets and heart-poking originals."
"When I've seen them, they've totally rocked, their ethic firmly grounded in punk, swagger, spit, & vinegar. They might play period instruments & use traditional arrangements but their performances are from a modern POV."
"Bearing vintage instruments, the Jades combine original songs with found material in a striking recreation of 19th & early 20th century old-time music. This is a band that's as comfortable in the distant past as in the here-and-now."
"A superlative example of American folk art."
"The entire audience was clapping and hooting and generally forgetting to act cool during every song the 'Jades tore through."
"Instrumentally they are also red hot, playing the old tunes with drive and respect."
"The Jades play with a passion and depth that has even jaded old-time fans standing up and saluting. Following in the footsteps of The New Lost City Ramblers, the Jades are acoustic revivalists who have made mountain music their own."
"Had the producers of the Cold Mountain soundtrack looked here for inspiration rather than to Sting, Elvis Costello, and the White Stripes, their product would have been infinitely stronger."
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