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Jack Hayter

Remember that time you were at work and you realized that what you did for a living sucked? 1995 was the year this revelation hit Jack Hayter in a stuffy, server-packed room in the basement of some gray building. Soon after, Hayter dropped the network analyst gig, picked up his guitar, packed his bag, and fled off to find that rock and roll holy grail. Since 1995, Hayter has released records with Spongefinger and Dollboy but had the most success with British indie-pop powerhouse Hefner. Hayter joined the existing lineup of Darren Haymen, John Morrison, and Antony Harding to play the guitar (among other instruments) on nearly all of Hefner's records.

After a long and fairly successful run, Hefner has decided to drink from the dangerous yet enticing cup I refer to as the "Unholy Side Project Chalice." Some who drink from this cup never fully recover from the power of its cherry-flavored juice and quit their original band to pursue the side project full time. Others knowingly or unknowingly create music that is very similar to the sound of their "main" band. (Cough) The Rentals (Cough) Weezer (Cough). There is also a caste of musicians who use their side projects to express a sound and feeling not found in their primary band. Hayter used Practical Wireless to stray from the Hefner indie-pop sound and focus more on stripped-down, acoustic-based rock.

Practical Wireless is a no-frills acoustic country car ride with the occasional sample, accordion, and spooky lap steel in the background. Hayter sings with a slight rasp in his voice and a simple storytelling manner to his songs. The combination of his lyrics and vibe is oddly comforting and has a sound not so unlike a country folk singer. One track where he deviates from his laid-back style is the all-French "Au Lion D'Or" ("With The Golden Lion"), which features an unbelievably catchy bossa nova-ish chorus.

Practical Wireless does get weary at times because of its sparse instrumentation, which may ultimately make it one of those discs you pop in before beddy bye. However, it is a touching singer-songwriter effort with a number of catchy tunes that is definitely worth a careful listen.

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