The Jigsaw Seen
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The Jigsaw Seen

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Mar
17
The Jigsaw Seen @ Antone's Record Shop

Austin, Texas, USA

Austin, Texas, USA

Dec
03
The Jigsaw Seen @ Eleven

San Diego, California, USA

San Diego, California, USA

Dec
02
The Jigsaw Seen @ The Hotel Utah

San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco, California, USA

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Music

Press


"An ornately detailed dark side of the moon to (Phil) Spector's 1964 album A Christmas Gift To You." - MAGNET
"LA's best mod-referencing, power-chording, melodic rock band." - BLURT
"Ten wonderfully resilient tracks here and they're all rather brilliant. Highly recommended. TOP PICK. - BABYSUE
"An album of sleighbell-coated melancholy and winter wanderlust." - DAILY MIRROR (UK)
"A charming blend of folk-rock and psych-rock." - THE INDEPENDENT (UK)
"A winterland well worth walking through." - BRUM BEAT (UK)
"Their seasonal offering is thought through, sequenced intelligently and comes in a lovely festive sleeve." - AMERICANA UK
"The Jigsaw Seen is one of the greatest bands roaming the earth these days, and Winterland is a testimony to their genius." - SOMETHING ELSE
"A brilliant concept album that is more about the season than it is the holiday." - BUZZBANDS
"An agreeably frosty song-cycle that should serve as a welcome antidote to the sugary annual onslaught of Yuletide cheer." - EMUSIC
"An excellent song cycle, Winterland provides environs well worth exploring." - NO DEPRESSION
"Winterland is full of fresh and contemporary songwriting and great recording and production." - RUST
"The entire presentation is a wonderful mix of the contemporary and the classic." - EXAMINER
"An excellent album that won't sound out of place at the height of summer." - MISTLETUNES
"The Jigsaw Seen might have come up with a masterwork in new album Winterland." - SAN FRANCISCO WEEKLY
"Winterland is a sweet feast of reverberating sonic treats that prompts return visits to the play button." - PASADENA WEEKLY
"An album one will play long after the egg nog has soured." - LONG ISLAND PULSE - various


Long-running psych-pop band The Jigsaw Seen belongs to the school of quality over quantity, of pop classicism over AutoTuned commercialism, even though its role models (the Kinks, Hollies and Beatles) have knocked out plenty of hits over the years. Over the last two decades, the band has released a fistful of compilation tracks, a few EPs and a full-length record every five to eight years or so. But all of the music remains inspired; after 20 years, The Jigsaw Seen sounds sharper and fierier on Bananas Foster than on its 1991 debut.

Still, the group knows the pitfalls of writing soaring, smart, carefully crafted pop in a world where skill and historical perspective aren't hit-making prerequisites. "Where the Action Isn't" is The Jigsaw Seen's simmering but witty poke at itself: Over a stomping, Stooges-infused riff laced with pleasing but not syrupy harmony vocals, the band members try to figure out the musical question, "Why can't I hold your attention?" By the end, they just shrug their shoulders, channel Popeye ("I yam what I yam") and stay the course: "If you're up for games / Sister, you're just wishing / Every day's the same / This is where the action isn't."
- National Public Radio


"Bananas Foster" receives 4 stars in a review in the February issue of UK music magazine UNCUT (with Roxy Music or The Allman Brothers on the cover).
Reviewer Chris Roberts calls the album "virtuosic, inventive" and "perfect retro-pop" and compares the band ("LA art-rockers") to Spoon, Scott Walker, psych-pop Bee Gees and 10cc. - UNCUT


"Bananas Foster" received 3 stars in a review in the "Essential New Releases" section in the December 19 edition of UK newspaper The Sunday Times (circulation: 1.3 million). The paper called the album "the perfect festive gift."

- The Sunday Times


"Bananas Foster" receives 4 stars in a review appearing in the December 10 edition of UK newspaper The Daily Mirror (circulation: 1.2 million) with critic Gavin Martin calling the band "psych-pop experts" and the album "a far-flung feast of flavours, utilising a quasi-orchestral assortment of instruments on dazed but courageous corkers." The paper also ran a photo of Dennis and Jonathan taken by Jes Andrade and the Bananas Foster cover graphic.
- The Daily Mirror


2010 has proved to be a classic year for L.A. pop and making the cut this year is the latest long player from The Jigsaw Seen called Bananas Foster. The eleven cut CD goes retro when it has to but the novel, postmodern approach keeps the music fresh and the sound current. A fine quartet featuring Dennis Davison (vocals), Jonathan Lea (guitar), Tom Currier (bass) and Teddy Freese (drums), the Jigsaw Seen is augmented on the album by guest artists including L.A. pop mavens Probyn Gregory and David Nolte. Vintage gear like the mellotron give the music a prog-pop dynamic and in some cases the music successfully evokes the spirit of classic late ‘60s bands like the Left Banke and The Bee Gees. Whereas many bands are cutting out packaging and going with downloads only in some cases, The Jigsaw Seen have always been known for their intriguing packaging and the seen to be believed CD art and packaging of Bananas Foster is a concept unto itself and makes an cool compliment to a band renowned for their futuristic / retro approach to pop. - MWE3


For more than 20 years, the Jigsaw Seen has been making music on its own terms in Los Angeles, where “what’s happening” fluctuates more radically than the stock market. The two-man core of the group, singer Dennis Davison and guitarist Jonathan Lea, has painstakingly crafted some of the most viscerally and intellectually stimulating material since the halcyon days of Arthur Lee and Love. From repertory pieces “My Name Is Tom” and “Fiddlesticks” to thematically diverse selections like “Crazy Legs,” “Melancholy Morning” and “Choreography Killed The Cat,” all from current album Bananas Foster (Vibro-Phonic), the material ranges from raga rock to baroque pop, the subject matter is always extraordinary, and the melodies are sublime. - MAGNET


How does L.A. band the Jigsaw Seen turn out such carefully crafted, magisterial collections of ‘60s-influenced tunes? For one thing, they take their time. There was a decade-long gap between Bananas Foster and the Seen's last album of original material, Zenith, and nine years between that release and its predecessor. But much like the dessert for which this album is named, the band's music has to be lovingly prepared to let all the ingredients blend properly. The Jigsaw Seen's musical home base is the ambitious baroque pop style that came out of their own hometown as well as the U.K. in the ‘60s, and while there are several variations on that sound throughout Bananas Foster, there are also some excursions slightly further afield into other aspects of the band's ‘60s inspirations as well. So even though the likes of "David Hart's Name of Song" and "Melancholy Morning" overflow with an orchestral pop glory that evokes everything from the Beach Boys to the Zombies at their respective baroque pop peaks, there's also the Joe Meek-does-crime-jazz-in-outer-space instrumental "Tonight's Episode," the raw-boned, fuzz-laden garage rock of "Where the Action Isn't," and the dramatic psych-folk of "Cave Canem." Whatever musical mode they find themselves in, though, the Seen seem to retain a consistently quirky, often absurdist sense of humor in their lyrics that easily sets them apart from their psych-pop revival peers. Not that the songs don't carry their weight on the melodic side -- with Dennis Davison and Jonathan Lea doing most of the heavy lifting themselves on a multitude of instruments, the tracks here are full of graceful, elegant arrangements and memorable moments.

- All Music


This low-key LA band led by vocalist Dennis Davison and
multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Lea have been at it for over 2 decades
(started in 1989) but geez they are so unknown it’s criminal (think
another LA pop combo, The Black Watch). I’m not sure how many records
they have out but they’ve got plenty and I have several, but I must
say, that this, BANANAS FOSTER is their best yet. The record is
straight out of 1968 and if Love’s FOREVR CHANGES is among your faves
then this will sit nicely with you. It doesn’t sound a lot like that
record but it has a similar spirit and The Jigsaw Seen’s trippy,
baroque pop is in the same ballpark and BANANAS FOSTER is definitely
their most ambitious record yet. The record opens with the drum heavy
“Bertha Brilliance” then drifts into the melodic “David Hart’s Name of
Song” right into the gorgeous Zombies-esque pop of “Melancholy
Morning.” Elsewhere you have the trippy “Choregraphy Killed the Cat”,
the grimier, blasting “Where the Action Isn’t” and the gentle closer
“Jubliee.” That this is their first record of original material in a
decade had those of us who are fans hoping for a stellar record full of
ambitious pop songs and yes, we were not disappointed. Amazing package
too with perfect yellow and blue cardboard sleeve, fold-out poster and
a recipe card for, you got it, Bananas Foster!
- Dagger


Spinning, swirling and twirling with exciting movements, “Bananas Foster” transports the Jigsaw Seen’s grand ambitions to a whole new dimension. Layers of electrifying harmonies intertwined with intricate arrangements, dazzling designs and unusual melodies inhabit the material. Each number on the disc emits its own aura, so there are no repeat performances or any hint of repetition at all on the disc. From the haunting baroque tones of “Melancholy Morning” to the toxic tremors of “Where The Action Isn’t,” the album produces one surprise after another. Esoteric lyrics also account for plenty of interesting moments. Sweeping organ fills, along with mandolins and trumpets further create happening scenarios. Reference points include the Beach Boys and the Bee Gees at their most experimental, as well as Procol Harum, Queen and assorted obscure British sixties psychedelic groups. A mind-boggling mix of dark and light, “Bananas Foster” is a powerful piece of work from a band that’s not afraid to take risks and clearly has fun doing so.
- Lance Monthly


A decade has passed since the Jigsaw Seen’s last full-length album of original material, the Grammy-nominated Zenith. Since then, the band has released a number of singles, EPs, and a covers album, but Bananas Foster is the first proper follow-up. Anytime a band takes that long to release an album, it had better be ambitious and it had better be good. In this case, it is both.

The LP has a vintage sound more at home in the 60’s than in an era of Pro Tools and auto-tune. The same art pop sound is present, with the guitar-based tracks making heavy use of mandolin, glockenspiel bells and the like. At times brilliant and at other times perplexing, Bananas Foster is never dull. Songwriter Dennis Davidson weaves imaginative tales of depression, mistaken identity, puppetry and fruit.

“David Hart’s Name of Song” is acoustic jangle pop about the puppeteer from The Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Program. “Each time I gaze at you I find another smile,” he croons in “You Look Like a Lot of People.” In an ironic twist, Davidson describes a state of ennui in “Where the Action Isn’t,” the loudest, most energetic track on the album. The Jigsaw Seen play the garage rock so well in that song, with its furious drumming and dirty guitars, that I almost wish the entire album sounded like that.

The Jigsaw Seen’s ambitions are greater than perfecting one style of music, though. Fluttering organ fills the closing ballad, “Jubilee,” and “Choreography Killed the Cat” is propelled by blazing slide guitars and an infectious drum loop. One of the best tracks, “Bertha Brilliance,” relies on classic rock riffing and start-stop dynamics punctuated by aggressive drum fills.
With a flair for the dramatic and a penchant for experimentation, Bananas Foster is the perfect successor to Zenith. Multifaceted and clever without ever being pretentious, it is an album you can believe took ten years to create
- Glide Magazine


We have long admired these guys' sound...as well as their overall approach to making music. If the fellows in The Jigsaw Seen had been around in the 1960s or 1970s they would have quickly become celebrities. Nowadays when there are just way too many artists in the world to be supported by listeners, they have a solid but relatively small fan base...despite the fact that they have been recording and releasing quality material since way back in 1989. Bananas Foster represents a high point in this band's career. The tracks on this album are smart, resilient, and they sound better the more familiar they become. In terms of overall sound...the music sounds something like a cross between Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, The Minus Five) and The Bee Gees. The songs feature smart inventive melodies and impeccable arrangements that always seem to be a perfect fit. The packaging on this one is fantastic. Guitarist Jonathan Lea designed a simple yellow cover featuring a sticker resembling the all-too-familiar Chiquita banana sticker. Goodies include a recipe card (like the ones in the infamous Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library), a foldout poster/lyric sheet, and a plain white insert that smells like...bananas (what else?). Great music, great packaging...what more could you ask for? These guys always put a smile on our faces...but this time we're smiling even wider than usual. Great pop cuts include "Bertha Brilliance," "David Hart's Name Of Song," "Choreography Killed The Cat," "You Look Like A Lot Of People," and "Fruitbasket Upset." Highly recommended. An obvious TOP PICK.
- Babysue


Please allow me to re-introduce you to the act you've known for all these years. Not really, of course. Unless you have a terminal weak spot for the polished baroque-pop filtered through a glass darkly of the Jigsaw Seen, a stripped-down combo that doesn't give two fucks about what anybody else is playing these days. If you aren't familiar with the Jigsaw Seen, that's your problem not theirs. They've put out so many albums, mini-albums, singles and EPs, I lost count about five years ago.



With a permanent core consisting of career dog-walker/evil-choirboy vocalist Dennis Davison and surgically brilliant guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Lea (along with whoever else they can cajole into the studio), Jigsaw Seen has been surviving in Los Angeles for over two decades strictly on their own terms. Remember, this is a city that hasn't had an NFL franchise since 1995 and nobody really seems to care. If pro football is irrelevant here, what chance does the Jigsaw Seen have? More than you'd think.



For some time, Davison and Lea seemed to be toying with the idea of assuming the mantle left behind by the late Arthur Lee. Not that new album Bananas Foster (Vibro-Phonic) sounds much like Love's Forever Changes. But this is music that hits you right between the ears, much like Love's 1968 classic. The craftsman's attention to detail is easy to see in both works. As for the sonic DNA detectable in Bananas Foster, the raspy wheeze of the mellotron and the Chamberlin, both vintage synths made famous by under-appreciated late British Invasion stars the Moody Blues, are all over the album. Yet, sometimes its focus is as blurry as Janet Leigh's brief recollection of Norman Bates' mother.



It's the inspired stroke of squeezing still-vibrant paint from ancient tubes used to create the Rolling Stones' 1966 masterpiece, Aftermath, that really brightens the color palette here. Exotic marimba, played by Stones' odd-man-out Brian Jones on the misogynist's national anthem, "Under My Thumb," sounds more tropical than sexist on "Fruitbasket Upset."



There isn't anything quite as unnerving on the new album as "My Name Is Tom," Jigsaw's 1991 raga-rock tale of a Peeping Tom rapist, or "Fiddlesticks," their gruesome 2000 rap sheet for Wisconsin serial killer/cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. Not to say the subject matter here is exactly mundane.



"Cave Canem" (Latin for "beware of the dog") adapts the chivalrous devotional stance of the Stones' "Lady Jane" with an unexpectedly mournful layer of melodica applied as a skim-coat. Another type of canine lurks in the bushes on "Melancholy Morning," a song that clinically details what Winston Churchill used to call "the old black dog" of depression. Rather than complaining about the malady that Davison often refers to as "the grey fog," he seems to almost embrace his daily dose of despair. And, no, "Crazylegs" isn't a tribute to legendary L.A. Rams running back, Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch. Rather, it's a name, warbles Davison, that he's given to his cancer. Maybe to beat it, much like in ju-jitsu, by using its own force against it.



As a longtime fan and friend of the band, I think I've heard everything these guys have ever released, no mean feat. It's taken the Jigsaw Seen more than 20 years, but with Bananas Foster, as the old pop song goes, they've finished their lifelong spiritual walkabout "out of the commonplace into the rare." This is their best album ever.

- Blurt


Discography

"Winterland" (LP 2011)
"Bananas Foster" (LP 2010)
"Sleep" (Single 2010)
"30 Century Man" (EP 2010)
"Candy Cane" (Single 2008)
"What About Christmas?" (EP 2006)
"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" (EP 2004)
"We Women" (Single 2003)
"Songs Mama Used To Sing" (LP 2002)
"Perfformiad I Mewn Cymru" (EP 2001)
"Zenith" (LP 2000)
"Celebrity Interview" (Single 1999)
"Whore Kiss (Single 1998)
"Letter To The Editor" (Single 1996)
"My Name Is Ton (EP 1991)
"Shortcut Through Clown Alley" (LP 1990)
"Jim Is The Devil" (Single 1989)

Photos

Bio

Building on the success of their critically acclaimed 2010 release “Bananas Foster,” The Jigsaw Seen released the ambitious follow-up album “Winterland” this autumn. The new album is a winter-themed song cycle showcasing the group’s eclectic take on the seasonal concept. Among Winterland’s many highlights is a guest appearance by rock icon Dave Davies of The Kinks, lending his vocal talents to the band’s version of Gordon
Lightfoot’s "Circle of Steel." The release of “Winterland” coincided with a national tour in November and December.
"Winterland" was released on vinyl, compact disc and download in the UK by Code 7/Plastichead on Nov. 14 and in the US by Vibro-phonic/BDC on Nov. 15, 2011.

Released on October 19, 2010, Bananas Foster received great reviews from UNCUT (UK), The Sunday Times (UK), The Daily Mirror (UK), Blurt, Glide, Babysue, Big Takeover, Dagger, PopMatters, All Music and many others, also appearing on numerous “Best Of 2010” lists in the US, UK, Spain, Sweden and Norway. Tracks from the album have been featured on NPR’s “Song Of The Day” and Magnet magazine’s “MP3 Of The Day.” The album entered the CMJ Top 200 chart in November 2010, reaching the Top 10 at numerous radio stations in the US and Canada, and going all the way to #1 at WSUW. Bananas Foster has also received airplay in the UK, Japan, Australia, Spain and South America. Other noteworthy airplay includes spins by Rodney Bingenheimer (“Mayor Of The Sunset Strip”) on KROQ in Los Angeles, Bob Harris (“The Old Grey Whistle Test”) on BBC 2 and record producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Peter Gabriel) on his East Village Radio show.

Formed in 1988 by Dennis Davison (ex United States Of Existence, whose influential debut album “Introducing” was released by Bam Caruso in 1986) and Jonathan Lea, The Jigsaw Seen recorded their debut single “Jim Is The Devil,” which was released by Get Hip Records in 1989. The Los Angeles band then signed to New Jersey based Skyclad Records, releasing another single in 1989, "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” and unleashing their debut album “Shortcut Through Clown Alley” in 1990.

The Los Angeles Reader pronounced: “The Jigsaw Seen’s witty commentaries capture both general life and more personal emotions with equal depth of feeling, and the music always shines.”

The band toured in support of the record, playing shows with Smashing Pumpkins, Afghan Whigs, the Cynics and the Sneetches, among others.

The Jigsaw Seen’s critically acclaimed EP “My Name Is Tom,” released in 1991, saw the band expanding their sound from tight pop song structures to a more expansive approach, culminating in the title track’s thunderous raga-rock.

Current bass player Tom Currier and drummer Teddy Freese joined in early 1993, solidifying the current lineup. Teddy previously played with Midwest combo Yipes, who scored a Billboard Top 100 single with their version of The Beach Boys’ “Darlin’.”

Davison and Lea produced the highly regarded tribute albums “Melody Fair, Songs Of The Bee Gees” (1994) and “Sing Hollies In Reverse” (1995) released by Eggbert Records and including such acts as Young Fresh Fellows, Fastbacks and Jon Brion.

Current auxiliary member David Nolte of the legendary Los Angeles band The Last joined in 1996. David later played with one of The Jigsaw Seen’s biggest influences, Arthur Lee (of Love) on one of Arthur’s last tours.

In the mid to late 1990’s the band appeared on tribute albums to Henry Mancini (from which the band’s version of “Baby Elephant Walk” was a CMJ charting hit), the Left Banke and Del-Fi Records. They also released a string of 7” singles during this time.

2000 saw the release of the band’s masterpiece “Zenith” about which The London Evening Standard proclaimed: “The Jigsaw Seen plough a gloriously arranged and sumptuously produced furrow. Echoes of Love are everywhere, noticeably in the sensual “Tight Lips” and the slinky “Big Hand,” where the loops and the mellotrons are beefed up by Laurel Canyon street noise. The Jigsaw Seen could be viewed as the missing link. A swoon-filled noise to stave off winter blues.”

The album received unanimous praise and substantial radio airplay, earning a spot on CMJ’s Top 100 chart. “Zenith” also earned guitarist Jonathan Lea a Best Packaging Grammy nomination for the album’s innovative design. Following the release of “Zenith,” The Jigsaw Seen was nominated Best Rock Band at the 2001 LA Weekly Awards.

Also in 2000, guitarist Jonathan Lea starting touring as a member of Kinks legend Dave Davies’ band, eventually appearing on the albums “Bugged Live,” “Transformation” and “Rainy Day In June.”

Dennis and Jonathan embarked on an acoustic tour of the UK in spring 2001. While there, the duo recorded a live radio session for the BBC. Their shows in Wales were also recorded, resulting in the live EP “Perfformiad I Mewn Cymru.”

In 2002 the band compiled their numerous tribute album tracks, recorded a few more and released it as “Songs Mam