One of Chicago’s most exciting rock bands, JET W. LEE is a trio comprised of guitarist Jesse W. Johnson, drummer Patrick Mangan, and bassist Pierre Achille. Formed in 2009 from the ashes of Champaign trio Post Historic, JET W. LEE continues a tradition of original rock that alternates between fast, fiery diatribes and atmospheric short stories. From the raw indignation of “Bridesmaids, Babies” to the thick sarcasm of “Stay Thin,” debut album Who Shall Remain Shameless charges out of the gate and relaxes only on side two, where folk influences shine through the clangor. Concerts are similarly high-energy, whether by the full band or Johnson solo; new songs “Far Better Times” and “Gas on the Grave” show the band has not grown soft. JET W. LEE just completed a second album, Western Nightmare, and is touring the country in support of it.
Jesse W. Johnson - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
Patrick Mangan - Vocals, Drums
Pierre Achille - Bass
Western Nightmare - LP - 2012
Who Shall Remain Shameless - LP - 2010
Home To Roast - LP - 2010
Album review: JET W. LEE's Who Shall Remain Shameless
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On Friday, Feb. 5, Jet W. Lee joins the slew of local artists who have had recent album releases wit...On Friday, Feb. 5, Jet W. Lee joins the slew of local artists who have had recent album releases with the (second) release party for their debut LP Who Shall Remain Shameless.
With the band citing dual "citizenship" between Chicago and Champaign, the Mike ‘n' Molly's celebration will be the official C-U release for the ten-track album. The show starts at 10 p.m., and cover is $5. Joined by Chicago's The Safes and C-U locals JigGsaw, Who Shall Remain Shameless will be available for purchase on both vinyl and digital download — an increasingly common combination given the diminishing popularity of CDs.
When listening to an album for the first time, particularly if the artist is unfamiliar to me, I try not to read too heavily into the band's influences and favorite acts for fear of playing a game of "spot the tribute to (insert band name here)" and missing the sound of the artist themselves. And with Who Shall Remain Shameless, I am glad I was able to set preconceived notions aside. While on the one hand, I can entirely grasp the elements of Neil Young inspired, country-tinged rock — harmonica and all — on tracks like "Starry State of Mind" and "When Beauty Met The Blues," I found myself more drawn to a vibe of '80s alternative rock a la Husker Du or The Replacements as in opener "Anticipation High."
With vinyl as the format of choice for the initial release, Who Shall Remain Shameless has a definitive Side A and Side B and plays as such. Whereas Side A (tracks 1-5) is upbeat and quick, filled with repetitive, catchy choruses and memorable guitar parts — save for "Stay Thin," possibly the heaviest track on the album — Side B (tracks 6-10) takes a more mellow route, recalling the previously mentioned elements of classic rock. While the first opening three tracks are by no means throwaways, my personal favorite is what follows in track 4, "New Mexico." Over the course of the four-minute number, vocalist Jesse W. Johnson's drawl calls to mind R.E.M.-era Michael Stipe while the surprisingly infectious harmonies of Johnson and Patrick Mangan beckon to be "shown the way." Along with the instrumental heavy closer "Amelia," the two tracks are standouts on an already positive album.
To put it simply, Jet W. Lee's Who Shall Remain Shameless is a solid work of straightforward rock from the talented duo of Jesse W. Johnson and Patrick Mangan. Though the group has since been joined by bassist Pierre Achille, credit must be paid where it is due to the duo for the recorded output. Who Shall Remain Shameless works because of, not in spite of, a lack of frills and exaggerations, remaining true to a credible format of drum, bass and guitar (and harmonica!) Having yet to have caught the group live, I look forward to hearing the tracks from the group as a three-piece at Mike ‘n' Molly's on Friday night.
JET W. LEE at Mike 'n Molly's March 13, 2010
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Mike 'n Molly's March 13, 2010 1. Shallow for So Long 2. Children Don't Choke 3. How I M...Mike 'n Molly's
March 13, 2010
1. Shallow for So Long
2. Children Don't Choke
3. How I Mutilated Susan
4. The King's Nightmare
5. Hard Hats
6. Forty Below
7. When Beauty Met the Blues
8. Dirty Love
9. You Win Again [Hank Williams]
For a band with a brand-new album for sale, JET W. LEE played
surprisingly few songs off it the other night. JET W. LEE headlined
the last night of Exit 182 festival, a showcase at Mike 'n Molly's of
local bands and bands en route to South by Southwest Music and Media
Conference. Hank Williams cover “You Win Again” dates to 1952, but
four out of eight originals were new, and two were true debuts:
quickie “Children Don't Choke,” with strident backing vocals by
drummer Patrick Mangan, and set highlight “Forty Below,” an epic
JET W. LEE Record Review
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JET W. LEE With their jangly guitars, bombastic drums, earnest vocals, and citified touches of coun...JET W. LEE With their jangly guitars, bombastic drums, earnest vocals, and citified touches of country, local comfort-rock trio Jet W. Lee sound like they've spent a lot of time listening to mid-80s Husker Du and R.E.M. The passage of decades has rendered those bands' once-revolutionary music familiar and harmless, but the members of Jet W. Lee seem like they're still able to feel the glamorous glow of in-the-know cult adoration that accompanied such groups in their indie-label days. And even if they aren't—it looks like they might be too young—they've managed to give their self-released debut album, Who Shall Remain Shameless, a peculiar angsty charge that helps me feel it again. On "Starry State of Mind" front man Jesse Johnson sings, "When all your life's a stage / And you get confused by the parts that you are playing / The corporation's gone and made the change / And you don't fit in," stirring up existential questions that he pretends to answer with a simple "Don't worry." Uh, sorry, I'm still gonna worry, and you guys know it damn well. This is a release party; the Safes and She Bear open. 9 PM, Quenchers Saloon, 2401 N. Western, 773-276-9730, $5 suggested donation. —Ann Sterzinger
For Shame: JET W. LEE shuttles between Champaign and Chicago
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What’s in a name, really? Too many commercial bands have made it with obscure names based off cartoo...What’s in a name, really? Too many commercial bands have made it with obscure names based off cartoons, books or movies. So what can you make of a band whose name is Jet W. Lee? It sounds like a mode of travel for Civil War generals.
The band’s sound? Nineties alternative rock like Superchunk or Local H mixed with a bit of eighties punk a la Minutemen. “We can’t stand only liking a certain type of music, although I would say we are solidly classified as loud alt rock,” says guitarist and vocalist Jesse Johnson.
Jet W. Lee calls Champaign/Urbana its home, but adds Chicago as its home away from home. The band began as a two-piece—with Johnson pulling guitar duty and Patrick Mangan behind the drum kit—and formed after a few drinks at a local bar. ” I was actually gonna ask him to play drums with me, but before I could ask he told me that we should start a band,” Johnson says.
Oddly, Mangan has a bit of a commute to fulfill his role in the band. “Pat has been commuting back and forth between Park Ridge and Champaign/Urbana for the past few years,” Johnson says.
Almost immediately the two began to record their ideas in the most stripped-down means available. “We did everything as live as possible and just tried to let things happen,” Johnson says. The recording turned into album “Who Shall Remain Shameless,” all materialized over the fall of last year. “Overall we recorded the album in six nights, just spread out over three months,” Johnson says. Yet the album has a feel that seems polished beyond such a short stint in the studio.
All their time living in Champaign has worked to their advantage, as they’ve since found a bassist in the town’s Pierre Achille. ”People here know who we are from other bands and they’ve made it seem like we weren’t always starting from scratch,” Johnson says. “That’s a very cool thing.” (John Wawrzaszek)
January 29 at Quenchers, 2401 N. Western, 9pm.
JET W. LEE Rock Canopy Club
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On Friday, Oct. 23, on the main stage at The Canopy Club, rock trio Jet W. Lee previewed songs from ...On Friday, Oct. 23, on the main stage at The Canopy Club, rock trio Jet W. Lee previewed songs from their forthcoming album Who Shall Remain Shameless. They opened their third local show with “Bridesmaids, Babies,” two minutes of indignation with wild guitar. Frontman Jesse Johnson salvaged the next song, “Anticipation High” from another band, but it was almost unrecognizable —less glee club, more anabolic steroids. The song that people danced to was quite a strange surprise — “How I Mutilated Susan.” For me, the highlight was “Amelia,” introduced as “a song about traveling out in the cornfields.” Six minutes long, the song was cut from the set at the band’s prior Urbana show. Closer “Dirty Love” was also noteworthy, mainly for fast drumming by Patrick Mangan that gave the feel of a chase on horseback. Who Shall Remain Shameless is in the final stage of recording at Pogo Studio and due out early next year in digital and vinyl formats.
1. Bridesmaids, Babies
2. Anticipation High
3. Shallow for So Long
4. The King’s Nightmare
5. New Mexico
6. How I Mutilated Susan
7. Stay Thin
9. Dirty Love
Good Ole Rock n Roll
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The rocking, energetic trio of JET W. LEE will take the Mike ‘n Molly’s stage Friday, where they wil...The rocking, energetic trio of JET W. LEE will take the Mike ‘n Molly’s stage Friday, where they will promote the launch of their new album.
“Our release show is a party, a get together with friends and future friends who want to rock,” said guitar and vocalist Jess W. Johnson. “We’re going into the show with the goal of having lots of fun and want those who come to the show to have similar expectations.”
JET W. LEE’s debut album, Who Shall Remain Shameless, will be available on both vinyl and digital download at the show.
“We’re releasing our album as a vinyl so people listen to every song, and also it’s our way of keeping music as an art alive,” Johnson said.
The band, that loves performing live, thinks it’s important to fill their live set with “passion and positive energy.” In order to do that, they needed to create a record that could easily translate to the stage.
“We recorded our album in a way that will be as easy as possible to play in a live setting, without losing spontaneity,” Johnson said.
A good live show isn’t enough though. While many bands can play a good live show, JET W. LEE wants to do something more than that.
“We want to create something positive with our music,” Johnson said. “Sometimes the sound can be dark, but we hope that also comes off as inspirational.”
The band, which consists of Johnson, Patrick Mangan on drums and vocals, and Pierre Achille on bass, has been playing together since May of last year.
Priding themselves on being “honest, fire-breathing, rock and roll,” the album is representative of both their love of the genre as well as a passion for what they’re doing that they hope to convey to the crowd at each performance.
“We want people to enjoy the show,” Johnson said. “It falls upon us to entertain the audience. If the crowd isn’t rocking out along with us and having a great time, we’re not doing our duty.”
Jesse Johnson of JET W. LEE rocks the Courtyard Cafe
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While most of your Monday afternoons may be spent in crowded lecture halls or a half-empty library, ...While most of your Monday afternoons may be spent in crowded lecture halls or a half-empty library, the Illini Union Courtyard Café offers a change in scenery by hosting Jesse W. Johnson, acoustic guitar player, every Monday at noon.
After playing for a semester last year at the Courtyard Café, Johnson will return every week this semester for hour-long solo performances. He plays acoustic guitar, harmonica and sings. Along with his own songs, Johnson also plays a couple covers during his show.
“I really like (playing at the Union) because it’s kind of a challenge to me. When you’re in here studying, you don’t always want there to be music. My goal is to get the attention of as many people as I can,” Johnson said.
One student that Johnson caught the attention of is Linnea Lukatch, freshman in LAS. Recently learning how to play guitar, Linnea said she likes watching his hands to see how he plays certain notes.
“This is definitely the kind of music I’m in to,” she said, “and he played Bob Dylan, I love Bob Dylan!”
Johnson, who grew up in Springfield, first started playing guitar after he went to his biggest idol Neil Young’s concert.
“I’d spend hours jamming to Neil Young songs in my room,” he said. “Probably drove my parents crazy.”
While his parents may have had to suffer through his learning stage, Johnson now entertains students and fans whenever he gets the chance. He said his first performances were open mic nights in Champaign during his freshman year. Now, Johnson has recorded his first solo album, “Home to Roast,” which is available for purchase on iTunes.
After just earning his masters degree, when Johnson isn’t working on getting his thesis published, he continues playing music. When performing alone, he plays acoustic. Johnson also performs with his band, Jet W. Lee, at local Champaign bars as well as Chicago venues. He describes Jet W. Lee’s music as being “straight up rock-n-roll.”
Johnson’s acoustic style might be viewed as more fitting for the Courtyard Café scene. Haley Franks, junior in Business, said that she likes how Johnson’s music is mellow enough to still allow students to study without getting too distracted.
In the future, Johnson plans on continuing his music career. He wishes to keep playing and touring with his band. Trying to find a job, such as working in a lab, related to his degree in Molecular Biology is also in his plans.
“In this day in age, it’s only smart to have a ready backup plan at all times,” Johnson said of his plans of searching for a part-time job.
For at least the rest of this semester, Johnson will stick around the Champaign area and continue to play at the Courtyard Café and local bars.
“I just want to put in my time and get as far as I can with it,” he said.
We can play up to 3 hours, but prefer to play 35-40 min. sets of all original material. We can play 1.5 hours of cover material including; Hank Williams, Neil Young, Warren Zevon, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kitty Wells, Lynyrd Skynyrd, John Mellencamp, and Bob Dylan.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.