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THE SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE

Post Rock/Math rock • Norway


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The Samuel Jackson Five biography
The Samuel Jackson Five (also known as SJ5) was formed in Oslo, Norway in 2003. They originally started out as a drum'n'bass-project, but after some radical changes in vision, line-up and instruments, they ended up following a different path. Their massively wide range of influences (anything from prog heroes such as King Crimson and Yes to John Coltrane, Stravinsky, Nick Drake and Do Make Say Think among others) is actually a fairly good indicator of what to expect -- they often blend various genres in a single track without even breaking a sweat. They might start with an amazingly hypnotic and catchy riff, only to end up in a frantic jazz freak-out some four minutes later. Unlike some post-rock masters, they do not bother to dwell in despair, SJ5's style is surprisingly vivid and positive, and they're not afraid to inject some humour into their music either. Their closest musical comparisons would probably be Tortoise and Do Make Say Think, although the krautrock influence is possibly less evident here. Both their albums have been well received, especially 2005's "Easily Misunderstood" was praised as one of the best instrumental albums of the year. Fairly accessible, and yet strangely challenging music from Norway, a country which seems to be a real hotbed nowadays for interesting instrumental groups.



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Discography:
Same Same, But Different, studio album (2004)
Easily Misunderstood, studio album (2005)

The Samuel Jackson Five official website

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THE SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE discography


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THE SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.86 | 14 ratings
Same Same, But Different
2004
3.93 | 47 ratings
Easily Misunderstood
2005
4.14 | 24 ratings
Goodbye Melody Mountain
2009
3.80 | 86 ratings
The Samuel Jackson Five
2012
0.00 | 0 ratings
Seasons in the Hum
2014

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0.00 | 0 ratings
Mid-Fi Winter Wonderland
2012

THE SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Goodbye Melody Mountain by SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.14 | 24 ratings

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Goodbye Melody Mountain
The Samuel Jackson Five Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Goodbye Melody Mountain finds the Samuel Jackson Five offering business as usual; of course, for them business as usual is very good business indeed. Anyone hoping for a radical departure from the precedent set by their previous albums, or even a substantial evolution of their sound, might be a little disappointed with this one, but those who were already sold on albums such as Easily Misunderstood will find the band continuing to derive fresh-sounding compositions from their well-honed post-rock blueprint. It gains few points for originality but makes up for it with polish and confidence, so I'd say it's about three and a half stars bleeding into four stars.

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 The Samuel Jackson Five by SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.80 | 86 ratings

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The Samuel Jackson Five
The Samuel Jackson Five Post Rock/Math rock

Review by BrufordFreak

3 stars I have been listening to this album for some time now with little lasting impact being made. At first I was quite charmed by the quirkyness and variety of the song stylings, but now I am listening because I WANT to like the music. But I don't. Not really. Not like JAGA JAZZIST. Not enough to rave about this album and recommend it to everyone. It's okay. All-too-often the songs just seem to plod along or do things that just don't make sense. (to me.)

Favorite songs: "Radio Gagarin" (4:33) (8/10); "Race to the Self-Destruct Button" (2:44) (8/10), and; "A Perennial Candidate" (4:39) (7/10).

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 The Samuel Jackson Five by SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.80 | 86 ratings

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The Samuel Jackson Five
The Samuel Jackson Five Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I have been trying to get an album by this band for years without any luck here in Canada. Well with this their most recent release I finally got one and man i'm impressed. I have to be honest this doesn't come across to me as being Post-Rock, at least not what i'm used to hearing from this genre. Of course that doesn't matter at all because this is a fantastic record. They always keep it interesting and the bass is upfront and despite the modern sounding vocals (which i'm not usually into) I have no complaints at all. Everything seems to work to perfection here. I did think of KING CRIMSON a few times with their complex and intricate instrumental work.

"Never-Ending Now" starts off in an experimental manner before settling into a groove. Guitar before 2 minutes. Great sound here. "Mockba" has a solid sound with vocal melodies. Mandolin comes in and then it all kicks in after 3 1/2 minutes with nice chunky bass lines and vocal melodies. The mandolin also returns. "Electric Crayons" has a good heavy intro but it settles quickly with vocals. Deep bass lines here too. It's so uplifting when he sings with more passion. Contrasts continue. "Radio Gagarin" opens with piano and it starts to build. It settles back again with piano after 1 1/2 minutes. High pitched vocals before 3 minutes with atmosphere. Intricate guitar ends it. "Race To The Self-Destruct Button" reminds me of "Discipline" era KING CRIMSON but that changes when it turns heavy. Vocal melodies join in. They are ripping it up late.

"What Floats Her Boat" or grills her cheese has these sounds that echo as bass and guitar play over top. "Ten Crept In" opens with vocals and i'm not sure why this is moving. It kicks in as vocals continue. There's guest violin in this one and the next one. Great track. "A Perennial Candidate" has some laid back guitar as the drums join in. It continues to slowly build then kicks in before 2 1/2 minutes. Clarinet too. "Tremulous Silence" opens with strummed guitar, horns and vocals standing out. The guitar is then picked. It keeps changing back and forth then it all kicks in before 3 1/2 minutes to end it. "And Then We Met The Locals" is a great title. This is uptempo and intricate then it turns fuller but it continues to shift. Horns are screaming 4 minutes in. "Low Entropy" is the short final track with acoustic guitar leading the way as keyboards and bass join in.

Well this has exceeded my expectations. It's entertaining yet challenging enough to keep even the most seasoned progger happy.

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 The Samuel Jackson Five by SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.80 | 86 ratings

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The Samuel Jackson Five
The Samuel Jackson Five Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

5 stars 'The Samuel Jackson Five' - The Samuel Jackson Five (9/10)

First off, it's difficult to fault a band with as awesome a name as The Samuel Jackson Five. I imagine that, like me, many people are first drawn to these Norwegian post-rockers after a quick chuckle at their name, becoming genuinely intrigued in what they might sound like. Contrary to assumption, it's not a singing family of children yelling expletives and threatening to unleash their hell and badassery upon unsuspecting snakes and filmgoers alike. Instead, The Samuel Jackson Five follows a sound similar to that of my favourite post- rock act, the vibrant God Is An Astronaut. Though the band name first had me approaching these guys with an air of scepticism, I have little reservation in calling "The Samuel Jackson Five" the best post-rock album I have yet heard this year. If only they had kept things purely instrumental, the album may very well be perfect.

I had a phase with post-rock where I found myself infatuated with many bands of the style, crying 'love' for the style's tendency to create vast atmospheres. Perhaps it's part of the post- Godspeed 'we can't make things any more expansive' mindset, but in recent years, I have heard the drawn-out post-rock sound becoming more concise, in general. While I may have had my apprehensions about this, when done right, the more song-based, straightforward structure to post-rock remedies many issues suffered by the genre's heroes, namely Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Sigur Ros. Although the same hypnotic atmosphere may not be given time to brew and ferment, the music- once again, when done right - is consistently engaging. "The Samuel Jackson Five" is an album with not a minute to doze away or lose track. It never grinds on the ears, but the music is complex, and even diverse. Diversity and surprise is one of TSJF's greatest strengths here; every song brings something new to the album. Even if some of the experiments don't float as well, it's rare that I find myself so consistently engaged to an album, particularly with a band I've had no prior investment with.

Barring a wide variety of guitar tones, TSJF bring many instruments to the table, and though they're willing to experiment, the music is bright and accessible. A theremin and lapsteel are both used, and they certainly compliment the futuristic vibe. Though most of these songs rest around the four minute mark, I'm amazed by this band's ability to craft atmosphere. The fourth track "Radio Gagarin" is a wonderful example of this, diving between a central hook and spacey ambiance effortlessly. Helped greatly by an ethereal sense of production, "Radio Gagarin" is among the greatest songs 2012 is likely to produce.

Although I suppose I can't fault them for trying something out, the vocals don't work as well as they may have been intended to. Post-rock is known for its generally instrumental approach to things, and though I think there is room for vocals to work in a style like this (Sigur Ros are here to back me up) the three songs featuring vocals have me thinking that The Samuel Jackson Five may have been better off leaving the album entirely instrumental. This is not because the songwriting of these tracks is lesser than the others, or even that vocalists Meidel and Knutsen are poor singers. In fact, the vocals are executed nicely. I could see the Mew-like vocal work in "Ten Crept In" being echoed in future works to a greater success, but it's really the structure of the album that has the issue with it. The problem lies in the feeling that the sudden, unannounced appearance of vocals tends to break the momentum while listening. Of course, The Samuel Jackson Five are never ones to back down from surprising their listener, for better and worse. Fortunately, the vast majority of risks they have taken on this self-titled record pay off very well. Make no mistake about it, and don't let their silly name fool you; this album rules.

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 The Samuel Jackson Five by SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.80 | 86 ratings

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The Samuel Jackson Five
The Samuel Jackson Five Post Rock/Math rock

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars This is the first full album I have heard from this Norwegian band and it's already one of the best albums I've heard this year, which probably says more about how unexciting this year has been so far than how good this album is. They have a great band name which is both a play on the name of the actor Samuel L. Jackson as well as the Jackson 5. Apparently this is their first album to feature vocals, but it's the instrumentals that stand out here. Good use is made of mandolin which adds diversity to the bands brand of post-rock. The album starts with some glitch style digital delays and whatnot. Then some mallet percussion, drums and distorted bass dominate "Never Ending Now" before some vaguely intricate guitar playing arrives. At the end the drums become barely audible and pushed back in the mix.

"Mockba" has a great melody on fuzz-toned guitar along with wordless harmony vocals and mandolin. Goes into a stereotypical post-rock vibe for awhile. Some nice synth gets added eventually. The beginning section gets reprised and then it ends in a cacophony as the sound is slowed down. "Electric Crayons" is the first of the vocal songs. Almost sounds like a decaffeinated Mars Volta mixed with some 1980s New Wave band. Decent song but nothing special. I don't know if the title of "Radio Gagarin" has anything to do with the first man in space (as far as we know) but going by the album cover you would almost think so. Dark piano chords introduces this track which features some great memorable mandolin playing. Everything gets a little looser and improv sounding in the middle with the piano doing some almost classical sounding quasi-soloing. Some heavenly female vocals show up and the song returns to it's original path.

"Race To The Self-Destruct Button" has some metal style riffing on guitars while the rhythm section is more math-rock oriented. Some lovely wordless harmony vocals float over top. Some picking on clean guitar later as those vocals become a little different. Great song but too short. "Ten Crept In" is another vocal song. This sounds very indie rock. It's a good well- written song but it's hardly anything you could call 'prog' or 'post-rock' or anything like that. "A Perennial Candidate" opens with great sounding electric piano before tom-tom centred drumming and 'real' piano join it. Love the chord changes here. Later some sax changes the song into an odd-metered rhythm. The music returns to the opening part with some nice sax soloing. "Tremulous Silence" is the last vocal song. Sounds like some kind of alternative rock from the 1990s featuring organ and sax.

"And Then We Met The Locals" has dated sounding sequencer patterns and guitar picking getting joined by some tremoloed guitar. The bass and cymbals come in and everything gets brighter and more melodic. The guitar playing reminds me of some 1980s rock in places. Nice sax in this track. Goes into a more typical post-rock vibe with a synth soloing over top. This song changes back and forth quite a bit, the most interesting song compositionally. Some skronky sax playing turns the band ugly while beautiful singing pushes the clouds away and lets the sunshine in. This self-titled album is a good, consistent release from 2012. This has great sound and production values and a good front cover to boot. I should investigate their earlier albums in full, not just a few songs here and there. Anyway, this gets a 3.5 rounded up to 4 stars.

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 Easily Misunderstood by SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.93 | 47 ratings

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Easily Misunderstood
The Samuel Jackson Five Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars On Easily Misunderstood, The Samuel Jackson Five present a more jazz-influenced and sonically diverse brand of post-rock than many of their competitors were offering. They also show a good command of a variety of moods; whilst many post-rock bands tend to focus on a fairly limited emotional pallette, the Five show that as well as the typical post-rock dread and foreboding themes they are also capable of delicate beauty (Song for Sarah), whilst Psycho Derelict sounds to me like the theme tune to an indie Western movie. Taken as a whole, it shows a lot more originality than many second-tier post-rock bands are able to muster, and will be of interest to any post-rock fan looking for something a little different.

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 Same Same, But Different by SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.86 | 14 ratings

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Same Same, But Different
The Samuel Jackson Five Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Samuel Jackson Five play a jazzier, more technically complex brand of post-rock which veers a little towards math rock at points but never quite slips into the obsessive and slightly cold and clinical territory that math rock can sometimes get into. In fact, it's got a warmer and more vibrant sense of humour than most post-rock bands can muster, proving that the Samuel Jackson Five are not just yet another group out to reproduce Godspeed You Black Emperor's melancholy apocalyptic atmospheres. On the whole, it's a very capable debut album which proves that there's still plenty to be done with the post-rock sound beyond Godspeed/Mogwai mimicry.

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 Easily Misunderstood by SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.93 | 47 ratings

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Easily Misunderstood
The Samuel Jackson Five Post Rock/Math rock

Review by shentile

5 stars latest effort from these norwegians. not worse but different than the debut. very deserving of 5 stars for their ability to make a truly prog album while making a truly post rock album at the same time. elements of jazz, rock and symphony bring this album to a head somewhere we've never seen outside a movie score for 30 seconds. but they keep it up for the entire album and the end result is amazing.

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 Easily Misunderstood by SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.93 | 47 ratings

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Easily Misunderstood
The Samuel Jackson Five Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Moatilliatta
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This album shows several improvements from their debut. The sound is cleaner and polished, and the songwriting is more powerful and effective to the listener. There is a nice touch of jazz here as before, but the sound is expanded and more full. This one has much more of a dynamic component to it which was not well executed on the predecessor. I doubt I'll be listening to Same Same, but Different again, but thanks to Easily Misunderstood, I will not discontinue listening to this band all together. All in all, this is a very good album, well worth checking out.

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 Same Same, But Different by SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.86 | 14 ratings

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Same Same, But Different
The Samuel Jackson Five Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Moatilliatta
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I am underwhelmed by this album. Noticing this band with a mildly funny name climb the top list of post- rock albums here, I felt inclined to give their albums a shot. I don't see this album as by any means brilliant or even above a standard level of quality. They are mixing a jazzy feel to their post-rock in a very raw overall package, which has been attempted by a few other bands with varying doses of jazz and varying degrees of success. I think Jaga Jazzist plays a much nicer jazz-infused post-rock than these guys: they are more refined musicians and their production is much better. The Samuel Jackson Five are bearing potential, which starts to manifest itself on their next album, but here we don't really see them reach any noteworthy heights.

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Thanks to Jimbo for the artist addition.

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