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Seishun Zankoku Monogatari: CD
This is the San Francisco trio’s second Japan-only release. The title roughly translates to Cruel Story of Youth. Half of the songs are covers and half are originals that veer all over the map stylistically but somehow hold together. “Who Killed Pasolini?” laments the loss of the important Italian writer/poet—“Who took Pasolini’s life/a prostitute of the extremist right?/why has no one cared enough to take his spirit’s fight?” “Near 600 Pages” is another literary discussion that goes beyond your basic freshman English class concerns. The covers range from The Cars to Richard Hell. The Fall’s “Psycho Mafia” seems to be stuck in my skull the most. Cool guitar riffage and heartfelt vocals make this one to seek out—or even order as a pricey import. Makes me want to find out more about this band that has been deserving increased attention for far too long. –koepenick (Snuffy Smile)

Society Is a Carnivorous Flower: CD
Okay. You have to support someone who has put out more records than I’ve eaten bowls of Lucky Charms. It’s just a matter of principle! But, it does make it a little hard to get excited about a new J Church release, even if this one does feature resident Razorcake cartoonist and bass player Ben Snakepit. The same melodic pop punk you’ve come to expect, with some more rockin’ production this time around, and a sad tune by Mr. Snakepit. If this were a cereal, it’d be Total. In a pinch, you can always eat it, and it’s been around forever. Ah, the limits of metaphor! –Maddy (No Idea)

The Horror of Life: CD
This is the hardest kind of CD to review because I want to like it more than I actually do, if that makes sense at all. It’s full of nice, frantic punk songs with some well thought out lyrics (dig the songs about Eric Dolphy and Laika the cosmonaut dog), but at the end of the day I think the problem is that sixteen songs is just too much for this particular album. There’s just not quite the diversity of sound needed to carry interest through the whole album. While not wide-ranging in their sound, most of the songs are pretty good, except one that’s just horrible. The song “We Play Secular Music” is just a huge turd in the middle of the CD that often manages to lose me for the rest of the album. It’s the worst kind of bad song, which is one that actually manages to get stuck in your head. The song itself sounds like an off-key rant put to an annoying riff. Anyhow, trim five or six songs off this and it is very possibly a great album. As is this is an “it’s okay.” Also, my props go out to guitarist/singer/main song writer Lance Hahn for even putting this out, because after reading the press sheet I was surprised that he even was able to find the will to keep making music after all that he’s been through. Kudos to you, sir. –Adrian (No Idea)

Palestine: CD
I first heard J Church around the time of Prophylaxis and Quetzalcoatl; I kept up with the band for several albums and then we parted ways because the songs didn’t seem to mean as much to me anymore. They were catchy but I just lost my appreciation for the band somewhere along the way. As far as Palestine goes, it reminds me of what could have happened if Bob Mould had reverted to music reminiscent New Day Rising or Flip Your Wig for his first solo effort. The songs have hooks and they’re relatively catchy, but the effort just seems like more of the same. If you’re a J Church fan, you will likely already own this. If you aren’t, there’s no reason to start here (try The Precession of Simulacra as a different entry point).  –scott (Honey Bear)

Meaty, Beaty, Shitty Sounding: CD
Nope. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I may want to, I just can’t get into this band. The covers of ELO, Jesus and Mary Chain and others are pleasant enough but the originals only succeed in making me cringe. Sorry. –jimmy (www.hbrecords.org)

One Mississippi: CD
I not a real big fan of J Church. I love their song "Alone When She Dies" off the "The Drama of Alienation" CD. It touched me. But that is about it for me. I liked Lance’s previous band, Cringer, more. I used to see them all the time when they moved to LA before moving north to SF. J Church used to pump out the releases for awhile. I don’t see that many advertisements for new releases anymore. I saw them recently and maybe due to lack of alcohol, I was lackadaisical about their performance. If anybody knows my brother Katz and sees Lance, you would swear they were twins now. This release leaves me kind of unmoved. I hear elements of REM and college rock. It’s kind of folk-like with a rock mix. Don’t get me wrong, but it just does not grip me. J Church fans should disregard all that I say and continue on with their lives. –don (Honest Don's)

Four Track Demos: Cassette
The cassette tape that comes with a download code is an amusing foray into technology caving in all over itself. I have always been so-so on J Church and Cringer before them, though I think both are good bands. J Church just never really grabbed me and this collection of demos does nothing to change that. The tape comes in a cool package with extensive liner notes, patch, and button as well as the aforementioned download code. Any fan will want to be all over this. –frame (Tiger Force Ultra)

Split: 7” EP
Must avert the need to comment on the number of J Church records! Must resist... Must... ack! Must resist statements about how cool Ben Snakepit is, as they are unrelated to the matter at hand! Must comment that the cover of The Cars “Just What I Needed” is ridiculous and unwarranted and totally dumb (in a good way)! Must state that the first Flamingo 50 song is fucking awesome! Must state that their lyrics are sometimes completely incomprehensible, in a good way! Must state: super catchy energetic power pop melodies with back-up vocals, leading me to declare this record Trix! Yummy sugary cereal! Hooray! –Maddy (Los Diaper)

Split: 7”
J Church: Awesome. Awesome to the max. Their side has a cover of “Where Eagles Dare” with Ben Snakepit on vocals. Sound On Sound: This is the band’s first release, and I must say I’m impressed. They aren’t entirely dissimilar to J Church, but they seem to have a more, how you say, progressive sound to them. They do a cover of “Old Chunk of Coal.” Also, and I cannot stress this enough, R.I.P. Lance Hahn. –Bryan Static (Underground Communique)

Split: CD
J-Church: Keep it fast. After years of sporadic listens to J-Church, I’ve finally come to this conclusion: if they keep it buzzing, Lance Hahn’s voice is just another instrument in the maelstrom. Think Everything Falls Apart, Hüsker Dü: equal parts melody and velocity. Bone snapping, crunchy parts and finger-snapping happy parts. The first two songs on this split, “Terror of Love,” and “Ghost Writer,” I’ll say are two of my favorite all-time J-Church songs. However, the other two songs take heavy ether whippits and where Blake of Jawbreaker had a voice that could break hearts, when Lance’s is up front, it’s more thin and has a tinny tint to it, which I don’t find as satisfying. Plus, 5:43 and 6:38 are too long for songs to clock in at. That’s simple math. Storm the Tower: Not so good. The bar’s been raised so much on hardcore. Not as rip sawing as Crispus Attucks, not as youth-vital as Life’s Halt, not anywhere as inventive as Tragedy, nor as insightful as Strike Anywhere, or hacksaw-through-femur dangerous as DS-13, they get repetitive real fast. Sorry. –todd (Broken Rekids)

Split: 7”
J. Church: I say this with the utmost respect. Lance can’t sing that well, and that’s part of the beauty of what J Church is doing: no separation between band and audience. The first song starts off a little loosey goosey and then kicks into what could easily be on the flipside of a Jawbreaker song when they were in their prime. The second cut’s a Snuff cover. I love covers that get me reared up go pull out the original, like a reminder to visit an old friend. Off With Their Heads: Oh, man, songs about restraining orders, fucking hating everything (including himself and excepting Janie), and it’s so damn catchy. What I don’t get is how this angry, bear-like voice (like Billy of Dillinger Four {the occasional third vocalist who can rip out a DYS cover like nobody’s business}) comes out of a medium-sized dude. They’re probably tired of hearing this, but I’m just reporting the facts: sounds like early D4, ultra-mean, hit-in-the-snacks Jawbreaker, and monkeys flinging shit and laughing if you swallow it or it gets in your eyes. Yes, great. –todd (1-2-3-4 Go!)

Wash OST: LP
Unsettling and paranoia-inducing synth recordings intended to be a soundtrack to a film named Wash, although internet searches for the actual film yield nothing. It’s a little difficult to listen to something intended to have a visual counterpart and not have that reference available—like listening to the Liquid Sky or A Clockwork Orangesoundtrack without having seen the film. Aurally, the tracks are masterfully crafted and evoke nightmarish visions of David Cronenberg’s library of horror and science fiction films. The record insert art is a strange depiction of a high school prom photo with the head cut off and the track listing scrawled across. Fuck. Once I find out where or how to watch the film, I feel that this record will leave a much deeper impression on me.  –Juan Espinosa (Iron Lung)

Slav: CD EP
I picked this up ’cause the cover looked like it was off one of those old 4AD records and I thought it might sound like that. It didn’t. It’s actually indie pop/emo. Jerks. –jimmy (Iron Compass, 2534 Charleston, Toledo, OH 43613)

Sick of Love: CD
This is what I get for expecting some kind of Thrill Kill Kult knock off. But can you really blame me? The cover is hand drawn: a masked guy, two topless babes, one with the number of the beast carved into her torso, another with a baphomet necklace hanging between her tits… Instead of overtly campy, sexploitatious tracks, J.C. Satan churns out an orgy of garage, psychedelia, and rockabilly. Using male and female vocals, this French and Italian quintet conjures up hippy Beatles tunes, The 13 Floor Elevators, My Bloody Valentine, shoegaze, and The Velvet Underground’s easy chord progression and dreamy, narcotic vocals. My faves are “Prehistoric Love,” “Escape for Love,” and “Superhero.” Also included is the four-song Satàn EP. Like Gogol Bordello, Satan has managed to build bridges between genres where others have failed. If you dig the aforementioned bands, pick this up. Recommended. –Kristen K (Slovenly)

Hell Death Samba: CD
A little psychedelic, a little bit of the Pixies, a little bit of garage... J.C. Satan combine a lot of influences to create something new. The results are mixed. There are a lot of okay songs, then there are some pretty good songs, such as “In the Light,” which sounds like nothing else on the record. It has this late night, underwater, psychedelic dream sound that pulls you in more and more as it goes—to the point where you don’t want it to end. Then they hit you with the cold water blast of “Crystal Snake,” which picks up the pace considerably with some stop-go noise blasts and distorted vocals. The vocals are at their best when they’re straighter forward, and even better when they trade back and forth, like on “Misunderstood.” I’m finding myself preferring the songs where Paula leads to be the best, like “Abandon” and “Close to Me.” This is a decent album, and one that requires you to spend some time with it, discovering its many facets. –Matt Average (Slovenly, slovenly.com)

Split: 7” EP
If I wrote the title to every J Church song ever written, really tiny, in ballpoint pen on my skin, that list would fill up my upper torso, at least. Bless Lance Hahn. Seriously. His uncompromised marriage to punk rock has taken him through better and worse, in sickness and in health. And due to the mere fact that J. Church is not only sticking to their guns when many of their peers believed that they themselves were deities, then declared the nuclear holocaust of pop punk; J.Church did DIY world tours and got progressively better. While I can’t say I celebrate their entire catalog, I do favor their shorter songs. “Near 600 Pages” is the perfect capsule of their power: catchy, sharp, dynamic, guileless, and wide-eyed/wizened-by-years pop punk. The Cars cover is guilty-good, too. Flamingo 50: Straight-ahead, lady-singing melodic punk from England. No screech or wail. Flamingo 50 make me think of my favorite shoes: well-worn and comfortable, smooth in the places that get a lot of action, and nothing fancy or precious; that makes me like ‘em even more. I look forward to listening to this split often. –todd (Pizza Pizza)

In the Alleyway: CD
Here we have yet another fantastic EP from this great L.A. rock’n’roll band. The first tune, “Out of My Means,” has a real Los Primos/Andy G And The Roller Kings vibe with the sax prominent in the sound. “Damaged Goods” brings back the sax for a more Michael Monroe vibe, which works incredibly well. This band is just an amalgam of all my favorite music and it is no surprise that I have loved everything they have released so far. I really need to get out to L.A. and see them sometime, preferably with the Blessings or Pat Todd or Simon Stokes. This five-song EP is a must-buy for any fan of The Devil Dogs, Humpers, or good old fashioned punk rock’n’roll.  –frame (KPCP, jjandtherealjerks.blogspot.com)

Back in Business b/w Seersucker Suit: CDEP
Sounds reminiscent of the earlier punk bands like Johnny Thunders and The Stooges, albeit a tad bit faster than that. Not bad, not great, and a decent song with a saxophone in it. –Bryan Static (Self-released)

Self-titled: 7”
In my years of writing reviews, I have learned that a pretty package is rarely a sign of quality. Still, I always find myself going all “ohhhh” and “ahhh” when I see a record like this one with its beautiful cover art and glow-in-the-dark vinyl that actually glows in the dark (I checked). When I put it on the turntable, I clench my teeth and hope that the music will justify me keeping the record in my collection. I always start positive. I say things like, “Okay, this is some cool garage rock,” and, “that guitar part is kind of neat,” but nine times out of ten, I can’t fight the fact that the music coming out of my stereo does not glow nearly as bright as the vinyl. I can’t forgive J.J. for sounding more like a spirited lecturer than a rock’n’roll singer, even with the so-so sax solo on the flipside. One more for the giveaway pile. Bummer. –mp (Kung Pao Chicken Pickin’, jjandtherealjerks.blogspot.com)

Why We Wish: CD EP
Furious Japanese hardcore. The singer sounds just like Cal from Discharge, but the music is a far cry from all those Dis- bands. The beats are fast and mean and, judging from the big circle A on the inside of the cover, I’m assuming they're sympathetic to anarchist thought. Good, good stuff. –jimmy (HG Fact, 401 Hongo-M, 2-36-2 Yayoi-Cho, Nakano-Ku, Tokyo 164-0013 Japan)

Why We Wish: 12"
Originally released on CD by HG Fact in Japan, this is released here for the masses to hear the manic rage of this band. If you are familiar with the label, not all their releases are available outside of Japan. I’m not sure if this was one of them. It also sounds better on vinyl. It has a heartier feel to the music. Japan’s hardcore is unique in their passion for the recording and the energy you feel in their music. It does not feel faked and you feel the compassion they spew forth. This is my second exposure to this band. My prior experience was a split flexi that they did with a band called Messed Up. Here, they blaze forward in a ball of fire with their mixture of Japcore, metal, and pulverizing punk blasts. Without compromising the power, there is always an underlying hint of melody in the music. I never researched the history of this band and its members. From what I hear in the music, they seem to be seasoned veterans of the punk scene. The musicianship is top notch and the songs are well crafted. From start to finish, you can’t help focusing on the madness that flies out your speakers like a windstorm. If you are familiar with bands like Gauze, Paintbox, or Forward, you will be quite pleased with this band. –don (Prank)

Too Many Babes: 7”
If these Oakland kids set out to make a record that sounds like the Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack, mission accomplished. Cut from the same hook-saturated Bloated Kat cloth as Lipstick Homicide, Jabber went in a more indie power pop direction. Consciously female-fronted, saccharine power chord fun that reminds you that all roads lead back to the Ramones. The second song’s chorus is literally “I wanna be your girlfriend.” Lead vocals are reminiscent of Screaming Females and Mean Jeans, but I also hear a nod to the Beach Boys in their 1960s style harmonies and lyrics about being true to yourself. Maybe it’s an insult, but this is the kind of punk that even kids who get straight As and play football or cheerlead can listen to. Not wow, but solid and super fun. You can’t help but dance.  –Claire Palermo (Bloated Kat)

Too Many Babes: 7”
Unabashed pop punk that mines the infinite recesses of unrequited love. (Let “Unsatisfied” be your anthem for dateless nights.) The opening chords and the confident vocals are all immediately inviting. The “ahhh”s on “Maybe Next Year” send chills down my spine; they’re whimsical morsels of elation over a lyrical pledge to make good on a New Year’s resolution. There’s definitely a playful X-ray Spex vibe fused with more contemporary anxiety like Cheeky or Lipstick Homicide. Each track is a lovingly crafted pop nuke of radioactive resilience. What’s the half-life of a Jabber tune? The time it takes for them to craft an LP is when I’ll finally shelf this 7”. Recommended.  –Sean Arenas (Bloated Kat)

Split: Flexi: 7”
Okay, the two sides of this split are like a pop punk power couple. Jabber have managed to totally nail it with every one- to two-minute blast of poppy sweetness I’ve ever heard from them. “All I Wanted” is my new favorite song of theirs—I don’t know how you even write hooks like that, but I need them to keep doing it. This band just gets it right every time; perfect harmonies in all the perfect places. On the other hand, five seconds into the first Science Police song, I said “That’s the fucking Get Up Kids,” meaning I’m totally on board with this. Really, though, “Look” could easily pass for a Guilt Show B-side, something I don’t see enough of these days. “One of Those Girls” tilts the balance a little further toward the scrappy pop punk end, kind of like… um, Jabber, actually. That’s a quality split pairing. This one’s going to turn out to be pretty addictive.  –Indiana Laub (Bloated Kat, bloatedkatrecords@gmail.com, bloatedkat.storenvy.com)

American Standard: CD
Wow, I wasn’t expecting much from the band I’ll venture to guess is the same band that once backed GG Allin, but this was pretty good. It’s interesting to note that at least two members of the Queers (Wimpy and Joe both contribute vocals) are on this, ‘cause there’s a definite “I’m Useless”-era feel to many of the tunes here, which fit in nicely with the post-Iggy scum punk vibe of the remaining tracks. Also contributing vocals to a couple of tunes are Jeff Clayton and Jeff Dahl. Surprisingly good. –jimmy (Steel Cage)

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