Along with several compilation appearances and a couple of singles (one contains a surprising B-side cover of Algebra Suicide’s “True Romance at the World’s Fair,” another leads with the incomprehensible “Tracy Chapman’s Lips”), the five-song Jackonuts and the eight-song On You are the entire recorded history of the explosive Jackonuts (aka Jack’O’Nuts, aka Jack-o-nuts) thus far. While the quartet is still active — guitarist Brooks Carter did double duty in David Barbe’s Buzz Hungry — its output hardly bespeaks a saga which dates back to 1989.
Think of the band as Athens, Georgia’s answer to Scratch Acid or Jesus Lizard; think of vocalist Laura Carter (ex-Bar-B-Q Killers, no relation to Brooks) as David Yow with XX chromosomes. While she, like he, revels in scatology and both front groups creating unnerving, snaky sonics based in part on the Birthday Party, Jackonuts do have an identity of their own.
Compared to the relatively straightforward and nearly tame (well, maybe songs like “Head Full of Shit” are hard to shoehorn into that description) Jackonuts EP, On You heads right for the edge. Produced half-and-half by Barbe and Steve Albini, the record finds the Georgians going for the dirge, loping low into raw, physical rhythms punctuated by Brooks’ wiry, cat-skinning guitar style. The lyrics can be wildly surreal. In “Hook,” Laura Carter goes from the abstract cooking symbolism of “I’m the yogurt on the vindaloo” to random threats (“If my fangs were big enough I’d kill you”) to vehement social critique (“Hate the halo of P.C. clone”) — all phrased with the eccentric timing of a bag lady. While it’s hard to fathom the context of the band’s anger at times, it’s easy to be drawn in by the record’s taut, sinister nuances.