The album cover for Telestial, featuring and black and white photograph of a woman with a black line over her eyes.

Local Review: Jacob T. Skeen – Telestial

Local Music Reviews

Jacob T. Skeen

Discount Mirrors Studio
Street: 03.28
Jacob T. Skeen = Middle Class Rut / Royal Otis + Isaac Rother & The Phantoms

When’s the last time you picked up a kickass rock ‘n’ roll album? The problem with the modern rock album is that it revolves around sending a message. Whether the record takes the darkly preternatural ambiance similar to Berlin’s Rammstein, the madman-rambling punk approach inspired by Black Flag, or the out-of-date butt rock you hear unbroken on Pandora, all seem to take the stance of becoming a statement piece. Gone are the days of lacing up the Sharpie-scratched Chuck Taylors and full-blown moshing to sheer energy alone (God, I miss Warped Tour so much). However, fresh off the electric high of SLUG Mag’s 35th Anniversary Party, the safety pin Marathon Man Jacob T. Skeen fires off punk-experimental mortar rounds at every bystanding listener to mosh for cover in his new album Telestial.

Sanctioning himself as a punk-rocking lone commando, Skeen flares his passion and talent through an idiosyncratic sound. This molten potion of garage metal and industrial science experiments overflow with a lively energy. Amidst chunky guitar strums, brass-knuckle drum bashing and rustic vocals—that’s all Skeen’s doing! Telestial blows out the stereo speakers with rough-housing vibrations, while spotlighting Skeen’s sharpened experience through the local punk scene.

Heavy tracks like “Come Home” and “Chronic Gut” spark a teenage angst drawl, yet retain a sense of maturity through their unadulterated rawness. It’s this almost garage band style that causes a wildfire of nostalgia, like a Howitzer missile aimed directly at you. One listen to the beginning of “Come Home” with the lengthy guitar incline will shoot you back to a more energetic time—maybe back to your first Kilby Court concert on a hot August night or watching Airheads (1994) for the first time. The music is high-pressured, headbanging fun that keeps listeners ready for an electrifying slugfest. Just leave the steel toes at home when you do…

With each powerline track that gassed up my primal rebellion, there are some tracks that cross into psychedelic territory. “You Try to Take My Life” and “Please Keep Me Awake” sound almost influenced by the Santa Cruz surfer rock of the ‘60s. The rockabilly, tracker-beam introduction in “Please Keep Me Awake” would be perfect for skateboarding in in abandoned swimming pools, making the wavy instruments feel like actual tidal waves to carve through. That’s not to say the change in tone becomes daunting. In fact, it’s the type of deviance needed to show Skeen’s range through rock in general. I’ve always hated using the word “vibes” as a description, but Telestial fits the sheer reanimation of the punk genre—feeding off the vibes, but not making every song a hot take statement.

I would say Jacob T. Skeen really outdid himself with Telestial, but once the guitar chug fades to white noise, the aura of something missing lingers. Each track is less than four minutes long, with “Please Keep Me Awake” merely grazing the one minute mark. The record is a candy bowl filled with only bite-size snacks—delicious, but I’m not exactly satisfied yet. I want more riffs to fistpump to without hanging on each lyric like this will reshape my whole personality. It’s a great rawhide journey for those wanting to experience the true meaning of the movie SLC Punk! Any inspiring rocker should give this a quick listen and reassure themselves that purest energy will light up any venue more than lyrical commentary. In the simplest terms, to quote SLUG Senior Staff Writer Parker Scott Mortensen, Telestial is “something to cut your teeth on.” –Alton Barnhart


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