J Church – One Mississippi

12 06 2008

J ChurchOne Mississippi
2000 – Honest Don’s Records

This is my second run at this.  I don’t know why J Church has given to me such a serious writer’s block (insomuch as I can call myself a writer). The first time I tried to write about One Mississippi, I ended up in tears on the couch. I’m going to blame that on the PMS and the shitty weather, since listening to it now, at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and the sun coming through the window, this is a happy album, for the most part. Oh, except the Lance Hahn died of complications from kidney dialysis part. That’s still a downer.

I had heard of J Church before, of course. I had probably even heard a couple songs on other people’s stereos, but I had never sat down and listened to them. Now that I have, I regret that I hadn’t really heard them until now, after the possibility for ever seeing them live or buying a new album has passed.

This album sounds kind of like Propagandhi. The first chords on the first song sound so much like Prop that I had a mid-nineties flashback (in the best possible way) and then immediately went to the J Church website to see if they had ever worked or played together, which, it turns out, they have. Now, I don’t know a lot about punk music. Okay, let me qualify that. I know something about punk music. More than the average person, I suppose. To someone who only listens to top 40 radio, listening to me talk about punk music probably sounds pretty impressive, like a person with a jr. high school education listening to someone with a biology undergrad degree talk about echinoderms. However, to people who are really into music, I don’t know much about punk music. I’m just starting to put it together and develop my own  (douchey as it sounds) philosophy on punk music, so here’s what I’ve got so far and how it relates to One Mississippi:

I don’t know what the core of punk music is, but, like a big fat classist or racist or something, I think there is some kind of purer punk centre or ideal and that bands can be placed along some kind of continuum between that centre and something else that isn’t punk at all, like, well, Nickleback or Laurence Welk. Anyway, on that continuum, I feel like J Church is closer to the centre than many other bands. It’s not that they’re intensely political or blindingly good musicians or dress really cool (though they may be all of those things), but J Church just seems like a real band. I know, that’s lame to say. Classifying things as “real” or “not real/fake/poseurs” is stupid, but I’ve been racking my brain for a couple days now, and that’s the closest thing I can find to what I think about J Church. They sound like a bunch of cool guys who sing about interesting things that happen to them in their real lives. I don’t know – I’m distracted and have had too much coffee, so I apologize, but I really liked this album. It was unpretentious (both in its content and its production) and honest, and like I said, it tugged at my heartstrings when I thought about Lance Hahn.

I guess it made me want to get out of the house, go drink a little too much, hang out with my friends, play music, and quit being so much in my head all the time. See you late

Also Listened:
Dan Sartain – Join Dan Sartain
The Daktaris – Soul Explosion
Lucero – Nobody’s Darlings
Steeldrivers – S/T
Old 97s – Blame it on Gravity
The Swiftys – Ridin’ High
NQ Arbuckle – xox
Ladytron – Velocifero
James Hunter – The Hard Way
Sloan – Parallel Play
Dinosaur Jr. – Beyond
The Roots – Rising Down


Shotwell – Patriot

2 06 2008

Shotwell – Patriot
2008 – ???

I love this album. I’m sick and don’t feel like writing a lot today, but I chose this album because of a comment I got today (you can check it out in the “About the ‘Author'” section) that said it was nice to see a musician writing about music. I tend to forget that not everyone who listens to music also plays music. It’s like when I forget that not everyone in the world is vegan.

The guys in Shotwell are not amazing technical musicians. They don’t shred their guitars or (most likely) spend hours a day practising their instruments. They clearly have other things to do and don’t have the luxury of being able to be musicians “full time,” and I think that works in their favour. Listening to really technically-challenging crazy music is cool sometimes, but if all that flash isn’t backed up by something more, some kind of ethos or heart or soul or something, then it’s just really gawking at some kind of freakish physical talent, like being able to bend their elbows backward or something.

What I mean to say is that it doesn’t take fancy guitars or hours and hours working on your riffs to write good songs with some kind of weight to them. There’s nothing revolutionary (musically-speaking) about this album, but what is in there puts a smile on my face and gives me hope in a world of Fallout Boys and City and Colours and more false punk and metal than I care to imagine.

Oh, and for anyone who likes Shotwell but hates Propagandhi, listen to track 7 at around 1:00. Total Prop riff – like it MUST be a nod to Less Talk More Rock.

Also Listened
The Exploding Hearts – Guitar Romantic
Al Green – Lay It Down
Steeldrivers – S/T
Corb Lund – Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!
The Ramblin’ Ambassadors – Vista Cruiser Country Squire
The Old 97s – Blame it on Gravity