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Jackal’s Jackpot

The Crescendo Show

When we last checked in with The Crescendo Show, the Corvallis quartet was gearing up to record Jackal’s Kiss — the band’s first studio album. Ricky Carlson (banjo, guitar, drums, backup vocals) says working with professionals, over nine studio sessions at Portland’s Jackpot! Recording Studio, pushed the band to the next level. The indie-folk outfit is doing a mini CD Release Tour May 23-24 in Corvallis, Eugene and at Seattle’s Northwest Folklife Festival.

“We’ve done everything ourselves,” Carlson says of past recordings. “It was nice to work with professionals, get some good outside input on our songs.” Carlson adds that sound engineer Kendra Lynn and Jackpot! owner Larry Crane advised them on minor tweaks — tightening up a vocal harmony here and adding some percussion there. “It was little stuff that ended up going a long ways,” he says.

It paid off; The Crescendo Show’s work has never sounded so realized, so full, so bold. Almost a year after placing second in EW’s Next Big Thing contest, the band has come into its own. Jackal’s Kiss is edgier, darker. The track “Honky Tonk No. 2” sounds like a cross between the energy of Shovels & Ropes and the groovy vocals of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, complete with layered harmonies, twangy guitar and train whistles. 

Whereas “The Green” has a sultry, cabaret sensibility, with Kailyn Kubiak’s vocals performing a sort of aural striptease over Matt Kellam’s guiding bass, jazzy piano, finger snaps and a whole lotta snare. 

Carlson says the band’s venture into the dark side comes from his and lead singer Nathan Porter’s longtime love of the classical greats, such as Mozart and Chopin. “We’ve always loved some darker music like that but never put them on the albums,” he says, noting that they wrote more songs in a minor key for Jackal’s Kiss. “We decided to go for it.”

The Crescendo Show plays 10 pm Friday, May 23, at Corvallis’ Bombs Away Café, 11 am Saturday, May 24, at the Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle, and 10 pm Saturday, May 24, at The Granary.