1. Janis 320
Their forthcoming album debut - recorded over 18 months in a Victorian water tower on what was once Queen Victoria's estate - displays a dazzling range of influences. A deep respect for the blues-rock of Muddy Waters, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Credence Clearwater Revival, a classic British sensibility that derives from a love of the Who, Led Zep and Family an appreciation of the '60s r&b sound of labels such as Stax, Chess and King and an affinity with the '90s grunge of their own youth are all mixed and matched to create a sound that is uniquely their own, taking the best of rock'n'roll's rich patchwork and re-stitching it in new shapes and patterns for the 21st century.
Built around the guitar-playing and songwriting of Jim and his brother Rob Homes, Jackson Analogue formed in the summer of 2004 out of the ashes of other local bands. "There were too many bands and too few venues to play, so as individuals we came together out of that frustration..." says Rob. With gigs so few and far between unless they ventured to the mainland, the band retreated into their converted studio ("deeply creepy and haunted, so we feel totally at home," according to Jim), where they cut some demos using their trademark, valve-driven analogue equipment, for want of "anything else to do". It was within the astonishly short space of a couple of months, the tapes had excited the interest of several major labels and following their first ever London gig Island signed them to a development deal and a five album contract.
Augmented by Matt Winsor on bass, Craig Watson on drums and a Hammond player who answers only to the name of Beast, their next gig - at the Isle of Wight's Ryde Castle hotel - was a legendary affair, with 400 fans crammed into every turret and even more locked out, metaphorically-speaking, on the other side of the drawbridge.
Taking their time to develop their material without pressure, they honed the songs on the road supporting the likes of fellow islanders the Bees, enjoyed a storming appearance at last year's Isle Of Wight festival and tested the water with a couple of singles and a live session on XFM. Then it was back to the haunted tower to complete the album. Complex but unpretentious, it boasts a rare sense of dynamics that ranges from crunching rock riffs to a rich, jangling beauty.
"We grew up listening to our dad's scratchy old acoustic blues records but we're also children of the grunge era, so Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were equally part of our musical education..." Jim explains, "...Of course all of that influenced us. But we deliberately set out to make the record with no preconceptions, no expectations and no formula. Hopefully we don't sound like anybody else out there."
The result is a breath of thrillingly fresh air, but scented with the earthy smell of rock'n'roll's finest traditions. Analogue music for the digital age? Get used to it, because you're going to be hearing and seeing an awful lot more of Jackson Analogue.