Reviews
Impose Magazie
- "Even if it's been more than a year since the most recent Jakuta and Carl show (that I'm aware of), Jakuta and Carl still feels like a stalwart presence in the DC area. It's been nearly a decade since Jakuta (human) and Carl (machine) played an early show at a transition-phase Velvet Lounge with the Fake Accents, the top-tier mid-00's faith restorers who had a future member of the Cheniers / Yeah Gates Records (which is of course home to the mighty Foul Swoops and America Hearts). It wasn't long after this that Jakuta and Carl's first 7" EP, Mistakes Were Made (or How I Broke My Heart), saw the light of day via Jakuta's Little Joe Peep Records and Promotions. The record comes in a foldover plastic sleeve sealed with a glittery red heart sticker. Since the 7" is about breaking one's heart, I am guessing that he wants for us to tear the sticker when we open the sleeve. The front cover is an extreme close-up of a stockpile of cheap heart candies, the ones with text that says things like 'Got Cha' (two words) and 'Kiss Me.' There's a no-longer-functioning web address listed twice (once in italics) on the cover. (Fortunately there is a fully operational site here.)"

Robert Eklind - Moving Hands
- This is electronic indie for college kids. Jakuta is the singer and Carl is the composer. The music balances between beautiful melodies, fun & crazy tunes and psychedelic soundscapes. The vocals are much like a pastiche (or maybe a parody?) of Ian Curtis, with the characteristic untuned and sorrow-drowned voice. The musical backbone is consisting of lo-fi electronica with a glitchy twist. The real treat is the small melodies though, perfectly balanced and somewhat unexpected throughout the album.

I have a problem with Jakuta’s vocals. I also have a problem with the fact that after the player stopped, I can’t remember a single song. The melodies are there, but mostly in the background, and maybe that’s the problem. In the long run maybe that’s the album’s advantage.


anamelessyeast
- Jakuta and Carl opened up for The Picture is Dead last night at DC9. Jakuta is kind of an avant-garde new wave lounge singer performance artist, and Carl is his laptop. He opened up his set sitting at the edge of the stage crying into his hands muttering over and over, "God help us all," although at first I thought he was saying, "Gotta have a song". Maybe we're both right. He seems like a smooth guy when you meet him but for his act he plays at some stew of awkward foreign mentally challenged person without rhythm or tune. His songs are about feelings - "exploding hearts" is one title - and he's a welcome antidote to 21st century hipster irony. Emotion is masked through layers of irony of course - "ineptitude", "gq style," shades of Andy Kaufman, but his sincerity shows despite the act, or the act is a way for him to comfortably express sincerity in an ironic hipster world. Fascinating and likeable, at least for those audiences members who didn't walk out in befuddlement. Poor things.

BeatBots.com
- Jakuta and Carl’s i is a bizarre little record. Essentially a one-man-band (“Carl” is a computer), this highly experimental group hints at Devo and the Talking Heads, with weird, whirring electronic soundscapes and spazzy, low-fi computerized explosions that sound like ENIAC on crack.

I suspect that Joe Jakuta’s moaning, operatic vocals fall into the “love this or hate this” category. There’s a haunting vulnerability in tracks like “What’s That Dripping on My Head,” but it’s a tuneless, deranged sound. It’s like the time that your high school AV club, drunk on wine coolers and too many Smiths records, staged a hostile takeover of the school musical and proceeded to nervously rhapsodize about all the girls who wouldn’t pay attention to them at the youth mixer. You know, sort of charming, in that uncomfortable, “should I really be hearing this?” kind of way.

Album highlight “In Teach Abroad You’ll See The World” actually rocks out. Here, Carl channels the Rapture with driving beats and evokes the Postal Service with twinkling chime effects, while Jakuta wails “where are you going without me” in a tone very similar to They Might Be Giants’ unforgettable musical question: “what’s that blue thing doing here?” Often, Jakuta and Carl’s experiments are too meandering to feel like complete songs in their own right—one gets the feeling that the whole thing’s probably more impressive live. But, much like Copycat scene favorite Dan Deacon, this “group” has carved out a loyal niche for itself in the Baltimore/DC area, and while it’s not exactly easy to see why, you have to admire Jakuta’s moxie.

-J. Bowers


On Tap * John Rickman
-
Jakuta & Carl

On a particularly cold and windy weeknight last January, an interesting “duo” was preparing to perform for a small crowd of adventurous concertgoers at downtown nightclub DC9. Eccentric superstar Joe Jakuta unfolds his laptop computer—Carl—plugs him in, and asks, "Is there any sound?” An attentive-but-confused soundman, accustomed to drums and amps, stands by unsure what to do. The problem, however, quickly fixes itself and Carl is sputtering forth 8-bit-sounding, retro-cute electronic melodies, belying the vast intelligence incased within its shell.

Jakuta grabs a microphone, and with a humble hello, the two start in on their set favorite "Dana Scully Saves Lives." Uncomfortable in the spotlight, Jakuta abandons the stage and performs his artfully nervous oratory—accompanied by Carl’s unique brand of electro-pop—smack in the middle of the dance floor, behind the blinds and in the laps of the wide-eyed audience watching the spectacle unfold.

The pair shared a bill that evening with two other equally compelling new music groups: The Picture Is Dead (www.pictureisdead.com)—an operatic quartet whose dramatic violin and analogue electronic instrumentation supports over-the-top vocal performance; and Spaceships Panic Orbit (www.panicresearch.com/spanorb.htm), an improvising trio that on this night employed laptop computer, electric guitar, drum machine and amplified hacksaw.

Just another night in DC—assuming you know where to find performances like those from Jakuta & Carl (www.jakutaandcarl.com).



Big Yawn - Top 10 in DC of 05
- Jakuta and Carl are the unlikliest duo in all of DC, and probably a lot further out too. It is safe to say you really need to experience a live show -- and we did say "experience," not "see" -- in order to truely appreciate Joe Jakuta's passion, and Carl's musical intelligence. A friend of BigYawn, whose first experience with the band was running into Jakuta screaming in a stairwell mid-song, has remarked how fondly she will remember that experience. We don't dare say too much about the music, for discovering that is the best part.

raves.com/djfix.com - Jakuta and Carl will, for most people, be a love it or hate it proposition. I actually traversed part of the spectrum myself while listening to this. Take new wave and indie rock and mix those with quirk, subtley angry tongue-in-cheek attitude, sincerity crushed by flippancy and make it an electronic artist with punkish leanings, obliquely and vocally, and you've got the ambiguity of this weird band. Lyrically, this could be a batch of poignant emo songs, but there's an attitude, largely conveyed by the delibarately off-kilter vocals and less overtly by the music itself, that topples this over into bombastic sarcasm. I started out intrigued, then I moved into "What the hell is this obnoxious shit?" to "Wow, this is actually kind of neat." The music itself is childlike in an alien sort of way and beautiful and a uberquirky way. Couple the odd approach of the music with the sneering, stoned vocals and you've got a strange set of songs that will leave most people looking elsewhere but likely will nab some cult listeners. Not to mention those left just scratching their heads. Three and a half stars
Kristopher Upjohn


Punk Planet
- Carl's homespun retro beats and glitches are lovely, if rarely remarkable. Jakuta's deliberately oddball, über-theatrical crooning, however, is truly a singular (and polarizing) force. Ridiculously melodramatic, if you were ever bothered even a little by Stephin Merritt's vocal affectations, or if you never went in for Calvin Johnson's singing, this CD is not for you. I won't say it's not interesting, but surely isn’t not for everyone.
(CB)


Splendid Magazine
- Jakuta and Carl's upbeat, lo-fi, digitally rigid and vocally operatic music achieves readings on the can't look away meter similar to those generated by a fifteen car pile-up on the freeway. We need to establish that point immediately, because by no stretch of the imagination is this "good" music, but it's endlessly captivating and strangely hilarious. Yes, when you listen to I, you'll sometimes feel that you're the punchline in Jakuta and Carl's little joke, but by the end, they'll have remained so slavishly true to their weirdness that you'll believe they're sincere. The music, like the marvelous Postal Service, juxtaposes mathematical electronic compositions with emotive vocals -- but instead of Ben Gibbard's sensitive musings, you get Jakuta's explosive rambling. Have you heard Will Ferrell's impression of Robert Goulet? Jakuta sounds kind of like that, only less in tune -- and therein lies the element of Jakuta and Carl's music that makes them special but unlistenable. We are asked to believe that a guy named Carl is spending a large amount of time composing pleasant but complicated electro-pop and then handing it over to a guy name Jakuta who is given free reign to emote a messy blast of vocals all over it. Jakuta's singing is awful, but enthusiastic to a fault. He's not on key during intro "The Sun is Smiling", and he''s just as ridiculous during the expressive "What's That Dripping on My Head?" Ironically, the album's one competent tune, instrumental "Part Two of a Three Act Whether Play", will make you yearn for Jakuta's absurd howls, if only because they sound like nothing you've heard before -- or will ever want to hear again.

Show review from 7/29
- A friendly, nerdy guy and his computer play wonderfully damaged “pop” for you…A Protoblast for the 21st Century (if you know what that means, then you know you have to be there…).

David Cantwell


Vital Weekly
- The music of Jakuta and Carl is influenced by Beat Happening, Manitoba, Ladytron, The Postal Service and The Microphones - but if none of these bands ring any bell here, one is thrown back to one's own judgment. Jakuta is the 'left brained emotive singer' and Carl the 'right brained mathematical composer'. They play most uptempo, electronic popsongs that are both inspired by punk and folk music. Jakuta's voice is raw, the tempo is high but the electronic component is pretty refined. Sometimes things get off the rails, such as the lengthy doodlings of 'Part Two Of A Three Act Whether Play', but in general it has enough biting energy and fresh rawness (or raw freshness) to be entertaining. Electro-punk meet the Silver Apples. (FdW)

SHZine
- The vocals on this record are a little tedious for me, but fans of Joy Division might like it. Fans of Joy Division might also not like it too. The few tracks on here of melodic and experimentally noisy laptop pop are rather similar to Xiu Xiu, but of a more home made quality. Apart from tweaked samples and sounds there are a few moments of guitar and harmonica that give it an original edge. There are other moments of songwritten vigor here and there, but just a few for my liking.

- Stu Hood


Laura Mauldin - jakuta and carl show
6 May 2005
when i walked into kansas house for the show last night, i thought i'd stumbled into someone's bedroom. it was dark and there was this guy in the front of the room with his laptop. in any other given context,this might have been merely incidental. but this was impossible to ignore. the intrigue did not stop at the great and very much dance-able music blasting through the speakers.

he was also moving about on the floor, sometimes laying down, sometimes fiercely dancing. he was dancing like...like one dances at home when no one is looking. its was a strange feeling to be watching this. and i spent a lot of time trying not to, as though i had stumbled in and had caught someone singing and dancing to themselves. but, no. here i was in the room with maybe a couple dozen other people. he reminded us that he knew we were there by taking objects handed to him by people near by - like an umbrella or a wig - and incorporating them. this happened as though he'd brushed along the wall of his room and found a hat hanging on a hook and simply picked it up.

as i got lost in the music, i started imagining a corresponding moment in a different time-space continuum and decided that we would be in a room painted all in white, with the lights on. we (the audience) would all be older, the men smoking pipes and the women with big jewels. we'd say 'mm, quite nice. quite nice.' to each other and look about. we'd all be rich and empty and standing around and watching jakuta doing exactly this. but i was there in that moment and i was neither rich nor empty and perfectly content to be standing right there right then.

the lyrics, too, were complex. i wondered how - and indeed if - he had memorized them or was making them up as he went along. either way, it was good. very good. on a grander scale, i found that the notion of a guy with is laptop singing and dancing with a sort of comfortable awkwardness turned the ideas of private and mundane versus public and extraordinary on their head for a brief, but remarkable, moment. oh yeah, and have i said that the music was good too?

- laura mauldin


Chain DLK
- - BEWARE: Before reading the following review you need to find your irony (you should have some!) and reading between the lines. C'mon, I know you could do it! -

It's nice to see that drunk people are able to play even if they are flying somewhere. During their flight they met the genuinity of punk, the innovation of electronic music and the impetuosity of improvisation. During their flight Jakuta and Carl made eleven stops just to cheer them up and to listen to some good music. They met the K label bands, the Chicks On Speed and I think they saw also Virgin Prunes (maybe they had a drink with Dave Id Busarus) just to take a walk down the memory lane. Jakuta and Carl on their first album did a long trip (ten minutes long) and they met Sid Barret. He joined them and inspired them for "Part two of a three act whether play". After the noisy pop of "Love and play" the duo decided it was time for "The sun is laughing". The sun was really shine and sometimes its brightness was too much. It was losing its shape by blurring into a thousand of different colors. With pop and electronic experiments Jakuta and Carl found their alchemy but sometimes they lost the point by looking straight at the sun. If you want to join them, you shouldn't care about lo-fi sounds/productions, emotions and dissonant songs. In this case you could find your lost friends and take a fly together.

-Maurizio Pustianaz


Zookeeper
- Super sassy, uptempo, electro-pop with folky undertones. Think Magnetic Fields channeled through electrobeats and a campy to avant garde-ish vocal playfulness. This is really cool. On cherry red see-through 7 inch vinyl. Yam!

Play: B1, A2
A1. Cathcy uptempo guitar chords alternate with melancholic keys. Sweet and atmospheric. And a swirl of messy electro noise.
A2. Short track. Heavy trashiness. Full blast guitars
B1. Magnetic Fields on crystal meth. Indie pop fudged with campy vox and heavy/noisy electrobeats. Kick-ass sentimental vocal melodies. This is great!
B2. Short track. Folky acoustic number with dissonant key noise.

- Elias (Dr Furious) KZSU Stanford


Punk Planet
- Candy sweet like the Jolly Rancher red vinyl it's grooved onto. Silly, digitized, lo-fi love songs for those inclined toward the Smiths and/or a demented Man...Or Astro-man? thing.

- Amy Adoyzie