Lovingly dubbed, "Kentucky Fried Radiohead," L F Antenna strikes a balance between Americana and electronic rock. Genuine soul for real music lovers. L F Antenna is currently booking shows in Austin TX, building momentum and perfecting its dynamic live show.
For those born in Pisces, the sign of opposite-swimming fish, duality is more than a concept—it’s a dominant personality trait. But for Jesse Coleman Jones, duality is also a word that defines much of his life — starting with his parents’ divorce when he was 3. A Kentucky judge decreed they would share custody of Jesse and his 7-year-old sister by alternating not weekends or weeks, but years.
Jones spent his youth hopping around central Kentucky, finding himself in a new school each fall, thanks to that judge and his nomadic parents. Feeling rootless and outcast, he turned inward — and began expressing himself in words and music of startling originality.
Ten of Jones’ compositions are contained on his new album, Anthills Rise & Governments Fall, produced by ”mad genius” Eldridge Goins and featuring string contributions by cellist Steve Bernal (among other notable contributors: Jeremy Nail, Andrew Noble and Brad Houser). The name on the album, however, is LF Antenna; say it fast and it sounds like “elephantenna.”
“The antenna is a very strong symbol of our need to reach out to one another,” explains Jones, now an Austin resident. “If it weren’t for antennas throughout the countryside, I would never have been exposed to all the art and music that has meant so much to me. I would never have had an outside source to identify with, and I would have probably died of monotony in the middle of nowhere.”
Notice he doesn’t mention iconic stations or influential songs when discussing the impact radio had on him — or, for that matter, even the word “radio.” Instead, Jones references the seemingly magic airwave catchers transmitting all those precious sounds to his waiting ears — and finds deep meaning in those remote metal towers, their trunks anchored to Earth as they reach for the sky. Elephantennas.
“To me, this is a reflection of the music, which maintains a duality of the organic and the electronic,” Jones explains.
Duality. There it is again — a running theme for this self-described “extroverted introvert,” who calls his sound “a blend of the usually disparate worlds of front-porch folk music and electronic soundscaping.”
That’s not as contradictory as it might seem, especially from an artist who studied opera and spent three years earning his living as a rapper. Today, he wraps influences including Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Mars Volta “and a bit of Latin and classical” with punk, country, jazz and other genres to create a mélange fellow musicians have dubbed “folk sci-fi” and “Kentucky-fried Radiohead.” In addition to vocals, Jones plays acoustic and electric guitars, piano, percussion, mandolin, organ, synthesizers and glockenspiel on the album.
“I have the purist inclinations of an acoustic singer-songwriter, but I just happen to feel that electronic music is capable of that same purity of emotion,” Jones says. “It just has to be blended the right way.”
Anthills Rise & Governments Fall does just that, over and over. “Dr. Greed,” the first track, starts out with a bluesy vocal, over which instruments are added one by one until its full, slightly sinister sound unfolds. “Still A Snake” combines blues, funk, folk, jazz, art-rock and experimental elements into an inventive, nearly unpeggable sound. “Cloud Could” has a trance feel, and “Apocalyptic Love Song” … well, that one just explodes with raw power. From a spoken narrative, it ascends into haunting high notes, accompanied only by piano. By the time Jones’ voice reaches full falsetto, it’s as if he’s beseeching the heavens. “If the Earth has to go/I want you to know/that in my life/you were the most/beautiful,” he sings. Dramatic and compelling, it’s the kind of song that refuses to fade from memory when the music ends.
And you just know it comes from some deep place, as do all of these tracks. In fact, he calls the album “a collection of songs reflecting on the observations and revelations of a life filled with love and torture, and a soul that is grateful for both.”
Jones plumbs emotional depths like a fish plumbs the sea, then surfaces with insights others decades older still haven’t fathomed. He’s a guy who finds poetry in discarded lottery tickets — because he knows exactly what fleeting hopes and dashed dreams those pieces of paper represent. Who describes a full-moon ritual of burying buttons with a friend in places where they wanted to remain bound together. He’s a Pisces, all right — able to find emotional connections everywhere. (In fact, he was once in a band named Labile — a term psychologists use to describe rapidly fluctuating emotions.)
“Writing has long been my way of coping with life, and a form of meditation where I can teach myself to hear the things that life is trying to tell me,” he says. “As a singer and a songwriter, I think my best development has come from being alone in nature and walking along the Kentucky creekbeds of my youth, just letting it all out, knowing that no one is around for miles.”
Spending summers on his grandparents’ farm gave him a love of the natural world, a connection he would like to see humans renew. That is not to say we shouldn’t appreciate life-enhancing technology, however.
After all, consider where we’d be without antennas. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, maybe, dying to hear sounds that could rock our world. Sounds like Anthills Rise & Governments Fall. Which just might rock yours.