Jet is a band. Go to its Web site -- www.jettheband.com -- and it plainly states just that. And when you're a balls-to-the-wall rock band hailing from the land down under, comparisons to high voltage, hard rock pioneers AC/DC are inevitable, especially when you too become so damn good at crafting what Rolling Stone refers to as the "rock anthem."
You know the ones. A blistering number loaded with raunchy guitars and backed by a sonic rhythm that often includes perfectly timed, spilt-second pauses, all topped with throat wrenching vocals belting out lines like "For those about to rock, we salute you!" But comparing these guys to Angus Young and Crew is more of a superficial reaction, really.
Spend any amount of time with either of their records -- Get Born (2003) or Shine On (2006) -- and you should quickly notice how the band equally matches its songs some deem fit for a stadium with beautifully cosmic ballads accented heavily with Beatlesque psychedelia that in all actuality are every bit as in your face and poignant as the rockers. That's one distinct characteristic about this band Jet that kinda sets it apart from some of the other garage acts who may also worship at the same alter of all those usual suspects -- The Rolling Stones, Faces, The Who, Queen, AC/DC, et al -- but fail to show much, if any, versatility. Something else that helps separate this bunch of Aussies from some of the others is really quite simple: they're completely believable.
Sure, the members are known to throw in a few tunes full of the typical rock star clichés when it comes to subject matter -- hard living with fast women -- and these undoubtedly are the singles that do make it to radio, but there are also plenty of other songs reeking with both substance and emotions. In fact, the title track from their latest release was written by lead singer Nic Cester specifically for his younger siblings (including younger brother and Jet drummer Chris Cester) after the death of their father who passed after a two-year battle with cancer. Their father's death also came at a point when, frankly, the band should have been flying at its highest. After finally wrapping up what seemed to be an endless, two-and-a-half year tour in support of its successful debut (reported to have sold over 3 million copies) and having its excesses well documented in the media, including an almost over-the-top spread from Barbados in GQ magazine, the band was in a prime yet peculiar position. Two years on the road, covering nearly every continent, and Jet hadn't written anything in the way of new material. The elder Cester is noted as saying he was just trying to avoid making the road-weary tour album. Call it what you will, but the plan or lack there of seems to have worked, although this stellar follow up album wouldn't come easy.
In addition to suffering from a close, personal loss, there were other obstacles that could have seen the guys well on their way to the sophomore slump situation. Taking more cues from longtime heroes like the Stones and Dylan and The Band, Jet made two attempts to seclude themselves in unique surroundings in hopes of creating some magic. First, an exotic beach villa, then on to a remote log cabin complete with below zero temperatures. Both locations proved less than productive, although it is likely the first may have contributed to at least one rollicking track on the new record (see "Holiday"), albeit that could have come well after the boys were back home and sobered up. But again, part of their street cred may come from the hard knocks they've experienced, but living the good life factors in at some point. By the time all was said and done, Jet saw themselves back in the studio with the same fella that produced their debut, Dave Sardy (Dandy Warhols, Supergrass and Marilyn Manson) resulting in a similar outcome. Of course this latest batch of songs come slightly more polished than the earlier ones but every bit as spirited, granted it's by way of all new inspirations and direction. Ironically, it's the man behind the controls who has probably best described Jet when he was quoted as saying they're just totally real, which as he put it, makes the band greater than the sum of its parts.
Jet plays Friday, March 30 at Amos' SouthEnd. Tickets cost $22 in advance; $25 at the door. Call 704-377-6874 or go to www.amossouthend.com for more details.