I’ve been awaiting the release of Caleb Landry Jones’ The Mother Stone since I first saw the album cover two months ago. Sometimes I judge books, albums, shows, and movies by their covers. Please note the lack of shame in that admission. The Mother Stone’s cover caught my eye immediately and I am so happy it did. The record was released May 1st on Sacred Bones Records and I’ve not stopped listening.
The sound is an amalgam of familiar and oddity. Condensed, the album is clearly inspired by The Beatles “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” With a carnival like atmosphere as the setting and Jones doing his best John Lennon vocals, The Mother Stone calls back The Beatles at their weirdest. But Jones is not simply a fan of recreating his favorite Beatles era tunes. While the primary vocals are quite Lennon-esque, we are also introduced to a second voice in “Katya” whose grinding voice would fit one of David Lynch’s woodsmen from Twin Peaks.
Jones flirts with elements of punk and underground rock as heard during the teasing percussion of “All I Am in You/The Big Worm” or the tortured screams at the end of “You’re So Wonderful”. The organ picks up a greater role as the album progresses and his Texas background comes out beautifully in his yodelling on “The Hodge-Podge Porridge Poke”.
Jones is not just a musician but also a rising actor with a solid list of credits to his name. He began his acting career in his late teens with primarily small character roles or as an extra for party scenes. He scored his first big role as a teen mutant in X-Men: First Class and has slowly crawled his way up into “That Guy” status in big pictures. For those of you not familiar, “That Guy” is someone you recognize in a show or film but have only vague notions of where else you’ve seen them.
The past few years he has delivered fantastic performances in Get Out, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and The Dead Don’t Die. Jones is now surely set to join the Hollywood circle of actors that star in every Jim Jarmusch, Coen Brothers, or Wes Anderson film. A list that features Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, and Frances McDormand who Jones has already featured alongside.
Caleb Landry Jones is destined for cult status, as an actor and musician. He takes his inspiration not simply from musicians, but also from the directors he’s worked under. The Mother Stone has as much John Lennon as it has Jim Jarmusch, and I believe that is what makes it a transcendent piece. I highly recommend buying a copy, and if you don’t feel as positive about the music as I do, at least you’ll have a killer album cover to hang on the wall.