Pop & Hiss

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Spiffy modern power-pop from Gentleman Jesse and His Men on Wednesday at Five Stars Bar

August 17, 2010 |  2:48 pm

Gentleman Jesse is proof positive that punk and pop need not make uncomfortable bedfellows. The Gentleman (né Jesse Smith), who will make a rare Southland appearance with his band Wednesday night, got his start plunking bass in the Atlanta garage punk combo Carbonas, a fast and ferocious outfit that released a handful of vinyl singles and a couple of searing long-players before subsiding into inactivity.

Jesse's roots may be punk, but when he moved on to form his own band a couple years back, he went all-out pop. Power-pop, that is. His 2008 debut album for Douchemaster Records, "Introducing Gentleman Jesse and His Men," delves into territory originally mined in the late '70s and early '80s by bands such as the Nerves, the Plimsouls and countless lesser-known acts. These natty rockers sported suits, skinny ties and floppy hair while dishing out sublime pop rock that incorporated barnstorming melodies, euphoric vocal harmonies, economical arrangements and bravura guitar riffs.

No one could accuse Gentleman Jesse of being ignorant of history. So perfectly does he adhere to the musical conventions of a bygone genre that listening to his records can be an almost eerie experience. It's no surprise that Jesse and his men backed Nerves alumnus and power-pop hero Paul Collins during his 2009 tour, bringing the connection between old and new full circle.

Power-pop licks are increasingly common in the garage rock world, as evidenced by Vancouver, Canada's Tranzmitors, Ontario's Marvelous Darlings and Pacific Northwestern acts such as the Cute Lepers and the late Exploding Hearts. Like them, Gentleman Jesse and His Men skillfully mine the past for fresh inspiration in the present. It's been two years since he released new material (though a new seven-inch from Douchemaster is forthcoming in September), but his live performances are always something to anticipate.

-- Jason Gelt

Take Gentleman Jesse's "You Don't Have To (If You Don't Want To)," for a spin below.


Gentleman Jesse and his Men at Five Stars Bar, 267 S. Main St., downtown, Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Photo: Gentleman Jesse. Credit: Douchemaster Records