Sixteen-year-old Jack West conjures memories of Kurt Cobain with his lanky, shoulder-length hair and piercing gaze. It’s no mistake that he’s performed with grunge-rock icon Eddie Vedder before 30,000 at a concert in Nashville or that he collaborated with renowned Seattle producer Barrett Jones (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Jawbox) at his famed Laundry Room Studio on West’s debut, eight-song offering, For the Record.
Take a listen to West’s impressive bow, and hear elements of Neil Young, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, The Doors and Nivana. After all, his father first turned him on to Pearl Jam when he was all of two, and he was four before he became fascinated with Jim Morrison. It wasn’t long after that Jack West retreated to his bedroom, where he obsessively laid down the piano, guitar, bass and drum tracks on Logic, eventually compiling 18 tracks, eight of which he and Barrett Jones chose to make ‘For the Record,’ a nod to both old-school vinyl records and Jack’s first official recordings made public.
“That’s what I listen to,” he says of the influences on his first record, “My favorite band is the Red Hot Chili Peppers, though I realize there’s not much of them in my music... maybe just a little.”
Like Neil Young, Jack West is at his most comfortable alone in his makeshift studio, dealing with his own self-imposed isolation through music. “None of my friends are into this kind of music,” he laughs. “They’re all into rap and stuff, know what I mean?” The songs on ‘For the Record’ are about preparing to take flight, but at the same time, wary of plummeting to the ground. The opening track, “Won’t Look Back,” sounds like a lost outtake from Dark Side of the Moon crossed with After the Gold Rush, while the plaintive David Gilmour-ish guitar riffs in “Look Out Below (How Long)” offer a paean to surfing and the thrill of catching the perfect wave.
Sometimes it takes youth to lead us to the next place, to revive rock ‘n’ roll by taking the old and putting a new spin on it