The Jessica Fletchers
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The Jessica Fletchers

Band Alternative Rock

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Dec
18
The Jessica Fletchers @ Promenaden

Sandefjord, Not Applicable, Norway

Sandefjord, Not Applicable, Norway

Dec
16
The Jessica Fletchers @ Gamla

Oslo, Not Applicable, Norway

Oslo, Not Applicable, Norway

Dec
03
The Jessica Fletchers @ Garage

Bergen, Not Applicable, Norway

Bergen, Not Applicable, Norway

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This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

Press



Perhaps the best personification of The Jessica Fletchers can be found in the title of their first tune: "Bloody Seventies Love." The band sounds markedly anachronistic in this way, like watching old Muppet Show episodes. There's still a bit of that blues/hipster musical posturing that we see in the bands coming out of New York and Detroit, but you get the sense that The Jessica Fletchers have less hang-ups, that they're more likely to slide on a pair of go-go boots and dance around a strobe-light than their brooding counterparts.

The music reminds me of old Gidget episodes. This Norwegian quintet would blend into an early 1950's California beach backdrop quite well. The music is full melodic pop, rife with lush organs, sitar, and sunny dispositions. Their performance would be more congruent with the sardonic Smothers Brothers show than it would in any contemporary venue.

With all of their references to sunrises and “good times comin’,” it would seem that The Jessica Fletchers are either naively optimistic or shamelessly escapist. Whatever Happened to the ? is bursting with hyper-active enthusiasm. The Jessica Fletchers never deviate from this mold and the songs are as varied as they are upbeat. Each song could be a hit single anyplace in any decade after the 50’s. I think anyone who creates such a deliberate album is far too self-aware to make something that’s merely a joke or shortsighted enough to feign unrealistically cheery faces for the sake of pushing product. With this in mind, perhaps I should restate myself: The Jessica Fletchers could more accurately be described as “defiantly escapist.” Particularly in a time where disenfranchisement is spreading like an oil spill, it’s a pleasant experience to listen to something as exuberant as Whatever Happened to the ?. If you were cynical, you'd just call The Jessica Fletchers "petty nostalgia." I am very nearly that cynical, but What Happened to the ? left me in such a good mood. It would be like kicking the neighborhood ice-cream man in the nuts. I don't know what sort of perpetually morose human being could resist the infectious mirth of The Jessica Fletchers, but I hope he doesn't become my nephew's kindergarten teacher.

-- Richard Sullivan - CD - What Happened To The?



4/5 Stars

Music trend alert! Give it a year and a half, and this album will get re-released and jumpstart the next hot rock phenomenon. Blame the Swedes again (it must be all the coffee): the JFs jury-rig an album of super-perky psychedelia for the single digits. The Beatles are there in abundance, along with Jerry and the Pacemakers and a liberal seasoning of Happy Mondays and Madness. The effect is pure candy, so diverting it's impossible that it won't be the next infectious strain. Impress your friends and get on the bandwagon early.

- Dylan Young - CD - What Happened To The?


Second album from these Norwegian popstars, and it's definitely my favorite yet!

This is one of those records where you have to fight yourself from trying to dance and bounce around to all of the songs (which can be counter-productive while you're at work). Taking huge cues from the Kinks and the best parts of the Nuggets box sets, as well as the poppier Elephant 6 groups like the Minders, Apples In Stereo & Of Montreal, the Jessica Fletchers play super-fun music, full of excited farfisas, jittery tambourines and loads of catchy melodies. And like the mentioned influences, there's an underlying element of psych-pop throughout these songs, usually just coming out in a brief break in the song here or a chorus there. Of course, the addition of a sitar to songs like "Next Year" do little to hide their psych-pop ways... The main thing keeping this record going besides the terrific music, though, is the album's relentless optimism and cheer. This is just one of those records that can't fail to put a smile on anybody's face!

MTQ=13/13 - CD - What Happened To The?


There’s usually a heaping dose of cynicism that comes with any musical venture into the past, an overwhelming need to prove proficiency in the style or a desire to preempt critics’ disdain for a trip down a nostalgic road.

“Usually” is the key word here, as The Jessica Fletchers’ blend of all things ’60 pop somehow leaves behind the hipster pessimism and jockeying for credibility in an avalanche of enthusiasm that makes What Happened to the? an exciting look into pop’s past. While the band doesn’t break from a Kinks-meets-Beatles take on the style, its bubbling output makes up for its lack of authenticity.

Hardliner revivalists may cringe at the Fletchers’ disdain for historical accuracy, but the band’s desire to overlook precision is the root of its charms. Guitars bear traces of the classic garage pop of The Small Faces, Kinks and The Creation with flings into areas that get occasionally rowdy with rock power, while its melodies, particularly Thomas Innstro’s vocal tracks, make heavy allusions to Liverpool’s Merseybeat masters and other British Invasion also-rans such as The Hollies and The Dave Clark Five. Further muddling up the picture is the band’s love for out-of-focus guitar work that suggests everything from British psychedelia to The Apples In Stereo. In short, the Fletchers grab a pile of influences and put them together in their own way.

Massaging its influences leads the band into some compelling realms of jangly psychedelic rock. “(Come On) It’s Only Nine” builds on a smiling vocal track that, heavy on backing harmonies and pervasive melodies, captures the sing-along spirit of the glorious ’60s that’s a dose of forbidden-pleasures Monkees-style pop without the guilt. “Do You Know What She Hides” and “Early Monday” prop up psychedelic guitar figures with some rock’n’roll muscle, while “Next Year” flips through psychedelic keys to make it the trippiest track on What Happened to the?

The Fletchers aren’t recreating ancient history, nor are they set to make it afresh. Sticking to what it knows, the band comes forward with a seriously catchy debut that’s even good enough to catch the ears of nonpsychedelic and classic-pop fans.

- R. Paul Matthews - CD - What Happened To The?


The Jessica Fletchers' Formula is Hardly a Mystery

As my fellow PopMatters writer David Medsker noted in his recent review of an album by the Rhinos, there has been an explosion of releases by Scandinavian rock and pop bands in recent years. While the relatively high profiles of bands like the Hives and the Soundtrack of Our Lives have found critical praise and middling commercial success, there has been a veritable flood of lesser-known acts who've tried to export their sound out of Northern Europe and across the world.

At the forefront of this push has been the Parasol family of labels, which combined have been bringing the music of a scene that's truly flourishing across the Atlantic to North America. Now Canadian/US label Rainbow Quartz has joined in the fight (with some publicity support from Parasol), simultaneously releasing a set of discs labeled the Scandinavian 3 (the Rhinos, the Lovethugs, and the Jessica Fletchers). Rainbow Quartz is a label primarily known for producing indie pop with a decidedly retro edge, most notably acts like Cotton Mather and the Asteroid No. 4. Critics of the label have noted that many of the bands in its roster can easily be saddled with the description "derivative" and written-off as unoriginal. Of course, if every band that wore its influences on its sleeves were chucked out for that reason we'd eliminate 90% of rock history, great and small. Most of the bands on the Rainbow Quartz label know they're hopelessly retro, know they're derivative, know that they're emulating a style -- that's the point. Be it pure pop or psych-pop, these bands revel in their '60s heritage rather than try to overcome it.

The Jessica Fletchers, then, are a perfect match for Rainbow Quartz. The press on the band makes a big deal out of the fact that they've toured with both the Hives and the Apples in Stereo, but beyond the simple acclaim-by-association is a truth about the Jessica Fletchers: they sound like a marriage of these two acts. Derivative? Yes. Original? No. Delicious? Very. In merging a slightly lo-fi garage sound into the sunshine psych-pop, it's not hard to imaging the band appealing to both audiences. They're rough and garage-y enough to pass as a rock band, but they're upbeat and melodic enough to be a perfect pop band as well.

The disc begins with the warped electric guitar strains of "Bloody Seventies Love", a song that more or less sets the stage for the rest of the album. The psychedelic notes that open the track give way to the garage rhythms and jangling guitars of the chorus, all of which yields to a lysergic, Syd Barrett-like bridge of trippy vocals, then back to the poppy harmonies for the close. Catchy as hell and full of pop-rock hooks, the song is the first single from What Happened to The?, but in some ways it's deceptively slick. Less trippy is the following track, "Just Another Fashion Band", which instead opts for the swinging mod sound, driven by organs and trumpets into an Austin Powers dance scene. And that's the power of the Jessica Fletchers; they aren't nearly as one-dimensional as their retro pop description might suggest. What Happened to The? features guitars, organs, trumpets, cello, flute, and (of course) sitar, but rather than being singular, the disc isn't afraid to swing between styles within the over-all theme, often shifting gears mid-song.

When the band shifts into garage mode, as on "(Come On) It's Only Nine", there are even strains of later musical periods, and there's enough bratty attitude in the guitar playing to remind the listener of the Buzzcocks. But then they turn around with "Christopher Jensen" and turn into the Kinks and put on their best Davies brothers imitations. This kind of shifting tone continues throughout What Happened to The?, mixing lo-fi recording textures into power pop with an incredible ease. While the comparisons to bands like the Apples in Stereo are apt, there are moments where the Jessica Fletchers reach the nearly timeless pop joy of the Dandy Warhols, particularly on "I Got News". Closing with a variety of sonic treats, "Beatbox" offers the grittiest, bluesiest song on the disc, "Shoot" is cleanest Beatles approximation here, and "You Can Have Japan" takes things out on pastoral pure pop (cough, XTC, cough) note.

For all that, the hands down best thing about the Jessica Fletchers is that the music is just plain fun. Even bands that emulate the sunshine pop of the '60s often manage to turn out boring product (hey, it happened then too!), and there may be plenty of Scandinavian pop revivalists who fall into that camp, but the Jessica Fletchers get it right every time. Many of the songs on What Happened to The? were culled from previous EP and single releases on the Perfect Pop label in the band's native Norway, so they have the luxury of picking some of the best of their past to make up a full-length debut, but that doesn't take away from this album's start-to-finish pleasure.

You don't ha - CD - What Happened To The?


Oslo's Jessica Fletchers could be considered part of the Scandinavian retro rock explosion -- but while their peers bow at the altar of the Rolling Stones, these Norwegians are much more indebted to the Kinks.

With a core of five multi-instrumentalists, The Jessica Fletchers create intricately organized, jangly-as-hell guitar pop/rock. Organs also feature prominently, as do horns, cello and sitar (courtesy of guest musicians). The arrangements are packed tight with interlocking instrumentation and unexpected changes. Four of the five core members also add layers of percussion to the tracks, giving the material an ultra-bouncy feel. The same ratio holds true in the vocal department, where harmonies abound; a number of additional guest vocalists are also featured.

The aforementioned Kinks are clearly a big influence here, as are the Beatles -- but to their credit, The Jessica Fletchers have a heavy (albeit still very poppy) psych presence in their songs, which gives them a pleasing edge. For example, opener "Bloody Seventies Love" jumps out of the gate with an upbeat verse, then downshifts into a subdued, atmospheric midsection that owes more to Van Der Graaf Generator than the Kinks. "Just Another Fashion Band" uses trumpets to propel its main melody, then counters the plummy-sounding horns with scraped guitar strings during the jagged chorus.

Throughout it all, the vocals are consistently impressive -- harmonies are layered over the already-extensive instrumentation, and all that detail makes the music sound distinctly ornate. The group has an extraordinary talent for cramming so many elements into their music without making it seem cluttered. More bands should have that ability!

The Jessica Fletchers make no effort to conceal their influences, but they are so damn good at what they do that you'll be hard-pressed not to enjoy even their most overtly referential songs. What Happened to The? is chock full of catchy-as-hell vocals and jangly guitar interplay, combined with marvelously warm production. No single member dominates the mix; this is a group effort in the truest sense of the term, and a superlative one at that.

- Garrett Splain - CD - What Happened To The?


AMG Rating : 4/5

Jessica Fletchers show a lot more imagination and style than many of the bands mining the rich load of neo-psychedelia, certainly more than the bands on their label, Rainbow Quartz.

The group hails from Norway and is firmly stuck back in the mid-'60s about where the Kinks meet the Small Faces, just down the lane from where the Marmalade and the Move hang out. They aren't strict recreationists on What Happened to the ?; however, there is a thoroughly modern dose of Elephant 6-style cuteness on songs like "Early Monday" and "Do You Know What She Hides." They also take some elements from garage rock (pounding tempos, simple chords changes) on songs like "Let's Go" and "Beatbox." Throw in some Beach Boys (the cuddly "You Can Have Japan"), Beatles (the dreamy "Shoot"), and the Spencer Davis Group ("I Got News") and you have quite the comprehensive, not to mention entertaining, tour of the mid-'60s.

They also pay a lot of attention to arrangements, making sure to stuff each song full of interesting sonic details. This keeps the similarly written songs from all sounding the same. And it helps the band claw its way through the crowd of bands trying to do similar things and make What Happened to the ? one of the more interesting debuts of 2003. It's just a shame that the cover design is so uninteresting. Rainbow Quartz should have used the original cover that the record had when it was released in Norway. It would be too bad if the amateurish look turned away prospective fans. If you are one of those fans, please don't judge this book by its cover.

Tim Sendra - CD - What Happened To The?



4/5 Stars

First off, you've gotta give props to a band from Oslo, Norway who has enough grasp of irony to name themselves after the main character on one of the cheesiest American TV programmes of all time.

Secondly, but more importantly, The Jessica Fletchers have an even keener grasp of style, as 'What Happened To The?' is an amalgam of several of the coolest sixties psychedelic pop influences, from early Pink Floyd to Kaleidoscope (U.K.,that is) to mod and freakbeat, all given an injection of mania and glee, mostly due to the frenetic keyboards of Ivar Johansen.

Tracks like the raga-inflected 'Bloody Seventies Love,' the bubblegummy '(Come On) It's Only Nine,' and the mod 'Beatbox' could easily masquerade on a compendium of late '60s UK pop without anyone knowing their true temporal identities, 'Next Year,' in its unabashed fun, could have been a hit by The Monkees, and 'I Got News' should be a hit somewhere! While most of the tunes on 'What Happened To The?' are bright in spirit and execution, on 'Christopher Jensen ' and 'Sick Of The Action,' lead vocalist Thomas Innsto employes a darker countenance that might remind listeners of Michael Murphy of The Dentists (remember them?).

The Jessica Fletchers have been touring with bands like The Hives and The Apples In Stereo, and definitely deserve to achieve a similar standing in the music community.

David Bash - CD - What Happened To The?


Discography

Summer Holiday & Me
CDS, Perfect Pop 2004, Pop 54

1. Summer Holiday & Me
2. Driving Song


Bloody Seventies Love
CDS, RQ Records 2004, RQTZ097

1. Bloody Seventies Love
2. Houses Burning Down
3. Beatbox
4. Video of Bloody Seventies Love


What Happened To The?
CD, RQ Records 2003, RQTZ088

1. Bloody Seventies Love
2. Just Another Fashion Band
3. Come On (it's only nine)
4. Christopher Jensen
5. Early Monday
6. Nextyear
7. Sick Of The Action
8. Let`s Go
9. I Got News
10. Do You Know What She Hides
11. Beatbox
12. Shoot
13. You Can Have Japan


What Happened To The?
CD, Perfect Pop 2003, POP 49

1. Sick of the Action
2. Let`s Go
3. Beatbox
4. Early Monday
5. Nextyear
6. Bloody Seventies Love
7. Shoot
8. I Got News
9. (Come On) It`s Only Nine
10. Do You Know What She Hides?
11. You Can Have Japan

(Come On) It's Only Nine
CD-EP, Perfect Pop 2002, POP 45

1. Up and Around
2. (Come On) It's Only Nine
3. Diamond Ring
4. Just Another Fashion Band


Sorry About The Noise!
CD-EP, Perfect Pop 2000, POP 34
( Produced by Bartleby )

1. Sorry About The Noise
2. Houses Burning Down
3. Are You Dying
4. Christopher Jensen
5. I Want You To Stay In My Head For A While

I Can Shoot You From Here
CD, 1998, TJF-001

1. Bontempi
2. A Place In The Crowd
3. The Parachute
4. Methadone
5. Morning Joggers
6. La Gear
7. Suspended
8. Fluchtversuch Mit Einem Autobus
9. Oval Offence
10. Jessica & Susan
11. Some Kind Of Joke
12. Friend
13. Fall In Love
14. Andrew & Jessica
15. You're My Star
16. In Your Eyes

Photos

Bio

The Jessica Fletchers formed in Oslo in 1997. The guys had just about enough of the music scene in Drammen, just outside Oslo, a scene that consisted of mainly of metal, prog-rock and punk rock outfits, and decided to do something about it. After trying out some local pubs and clubs it didn’t take long before they ran into a studio and recorded their self financed "unofficial" debut album I CAN SHOOT YOU FROM HERE (1998) …and so the story begins.

In 2000, after signing with Norwegian indie label Perfect Pop they released SORRY ABOUT THE NOISE EP, which went on to be an underground hit in the Oslo clubs.

In 2001 the band played their most memorable and remarkable gig at Paragrafen, Oslo, and were later offered to play on Zoom (Zoom is a contest where the winner gets a tour as the reward) The Jessica Fletchers won, and together they toured with two other bands, south to north and back again.

COME ON (IT’S ONLY NINE) recorded in 2002 spawned the soon-to-be-massive song Bloody Seventies Love, a song that would later cement the deal with guitar pop label, Rainbow Quartz.

Having more recently toured with Swedish heavyweights The Hives, and American indie-psych-pop faves the Apples in Stereo, Oslo, Norway based Jessica Fletchers are now set to storm the North American pop scene with their great new record, WHAT HAPPENED TO THE?