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J Kettle – “Momentary Delights” CD 12/41:16
Let’s say Serge Gainsbourg, Portishead, and DJ Shadow hired an evil scientist to combine their DNA and clone a hybrid. Let’s say this scientist fucked up and got the vocals all wrong. Let’s say the genetic material was a little too derivative. And let’s imagine that this monstrosity was roaming the darkened streets in a black raincoat, chain-smoking and murdering prostitutes. That’s about what J Kettle sounds like. The jazzy, seductive samples and vaguely trip-hoppy rhythms are great background music, but the elements don’t cohere as well as they could. The obligatory Whispered French Vocals are barely in key, and a lot of songs take too long getting to the point. Jeff Kettle (he of the band name) is an extremely talented mixmaster, and “Momentary Delights” just might be the soundtrack to your rain-soaked, downtrodden lifestyle that you’ve been looking for all these years. But I’ll be damned if “On Seeing Your Photos” doesn’t sound exactly like DJ Shadow. John
@ www.jkettle.com

J-Church/Storm the Tower – “split” CD 9/39:05
Apparently the first new “real” studio works from J-Church in two years with another new crew (including a member of CD mates STT) behind him. Lance’s songs are as insightful has ever, and he’s still able to do fast (“Terror of Love”, “Ghostwriter”), slow (“Wonderful”), and mid-tempo tunes equally well without having to rely on overused formulas, whether his or borrowed from someone else. Left to their own devices, STT provide some righteous faster-paced hardcore, that manages to keep their own (admittedly Lance has a better way with a lyric, but STT have nothing to be ashamed off). Yep, recommended! David
@ www.brokenrekids.com

Jack Killed Jill – “Hello Neighbor” CD 10/27:15
Why isn’t this Frisco band as big as bands like One Man Army or Tilt? Revik has one of the strongest female voices around, and the band has been consistently churning out quality catchy punk rock for a decade. This release is no exception, and includes a revved-up cover of “You Don’t Own Me”- last heard on Joan Jett’s first solo record in 1979. Check out one of the S.F. Bay Area’s best-kept secrets! Jesse
@ GC, PO Box 3743, Laguna Hills, CA 92654

Jack Tragic & The Unfortunates – “Coming Down Like A Hammer…” CD 16/47:49
The history of this fairly obscure band dates back to their first show in ’82 in New Haven, CT. (they made $12). They went on to play with Agnostic Front, Bad Brains, Butthole Surfers and the Plasmatics and were part of the pool of musicians who pulled together punk, hardcore, metal and post-punk in the 80s, before the whole shithouse went up in flames and the majors came calling. Their sloppy, muddy basement punk is characterized by a bad-ass, below-the-ground expressionism: “I Kill Hippies”, “Born Dead”. “I’m Burnt” is a growly garage tune as good as anything on any Pebbles or Nuggets compilation. A lot of this pre-digests the ‘60s for many bands who would come later, from the Dwarves to the Devil Dogs, and so on. They had their own take on the world, to be sure, just check, “Man’s World” – “this is a man’s world, bitch!” and “Jesus Christ Commando”. Anthony
@ www.dionysusrecords.com

Jackie-O Motherfucker – “Europe 2002” 2XCD
Various live improvs from this experimental outfit, featuring ragas, drones, and what sounds like the odd 78. Not something that grabs you by the neck and demands you pay attention to it, but rather more subtly entices you in. Pretty successful, though you really have to be in the proper mood to get into this. David
@ www.usoundarchive.com

Jai Alai - “Drive Safe” CD 15/68:14
There’s this amazing song called “L.A.” by the band Seldom on this Noisepop CD Compilation and I just adore it. The first song on the Jai Alai album reminds me of it a lot. This is the kind of music that is easier to describe in emotion than musical terms, but I’ll do my best, it’s math rock. It’s not vocally heavy, but instrumentally heavy. And it’s pretty, definitely pretty. It’s sleepytime with someone in your bed with you and it’s new and amazing music. Yep. Sharon
@ www.jaialaimusic.com

James Brown - "Live At the Apollo" CD 12/40:41
Considered one of the great live albums ever, this certainly captures a superstar at the peak of his powers. Recorded before 1,500 fans in Harlem in 1962, Brown summarizes his career up to that point, as black America's answer to Elvis. The original album makes its second appearance on CD with very minor variations. Also, included are the original singles mixes of some of the album tracks. Mel
@ www.universalchronicles.com

Jamison Parker – “Notes & Photographs” CD 5/18:29
Some good songs resonate through this power pop release. The tunes are catchy, if a tad too long. While bringing nothing really new sound-wise, JP has a style that is pleasant to the ear, with just a touch of edge. The production level is as good as the majors, if a bit sterile (like the majors). MTV-isized, and very possibly college radio station material. RBF
@ www.jamisonparker.com

Jasmine Minks - "I Heard I Wish It Would Rain" CD 3/12:12
Onetime genius-move merchants from Creation Records' glory days surprise with an unexpected, understated return to the arena. Title cut takes its time before dropping a chiming, singalong-pop payload ('everybody smiles but nobody's happy'). 'Blown Away' is a moody ballad that would sound good ricocheting off the local moors, and 'Learn To Suffer' provides a jumping, lightly-soulish hat trick to conclude proceedings. MLH
@ www.busstoplabel.com

Jay Farrar – “Terroir Blues” CD 23/59:14
I’m rooting for Farrar, and I really hope he figures out what to do with himself in these post-Uncle Tupelo, post-Son Volt days. But it’s clear by listening to this record that he’s lost his way. The monotony of the album’s crummy, uninspired sound – one acoustic dud after another – is broken only by the odd fit of studio noodling. This record could be worse. But I’m not exactly sure how. Kevin
@ www.jayfarrar.net

Jazz June – “Better Off Without Air” CD 13/42:35
This was described to me as post-emo, but it goes well beyond that with springy guitars and rapi-fire breaks and choruses. They bend the rules and squeeze a lot of usable material out of “We’ve Got Your Situation”, “Utown Explosion”, and especially “These Pills…”, not to mention the whammy-driven sound of “Benny Clarks Can”. This is their sixth record, it’s time the world caught up. Anthony
@ www.initialrecords.com

Je Suis France – “Fantastic Area” CD 15/43:27
A defanged, Goo-era Sonic Youth soundalike with an annoying lead singer and penchant for psychedelic guitar wankery. The ubiquitous ex-Elephant Sixer Scott Spillane shows up on a couple tracks, leading me to wonder what the hell about these guys caught his attention, (other than the fact that Je Suis France are on Jeff Magnum’s Orange Twin label. Which leads me to wonder what the hell was Magnum thinking as well). The tightly-wound, frenetic instrumental backdrops work well as low-volume cinematic scores. In fact, the song ”Memorial Day” is from the straight-to-video movie of the same name. But as congenial as this is, I can’t get over the tired indie structures, or the now-standard electronic blips and pseudo-experimental guitar freak-outs. It feels so well-worn you could practically poke your toes through the sole. Could’ve been better, but also worse. John
@ jesuisfrance@yahoo.com

Jeff Dahl - “Street Fighting Lizard” CD 10/34:36
Jeff Dahl LPs are either totally rockin’ or just plain rockin’, depending upon how driving and catchy the songs are. Fortunately, his new album lands closer to the former pole. The title track, “Take Your Medicine”, and “Destination Blackout” are clearly the best rockers here, but I also love the moody, acoustic “Road to Madrid” and the glammy, mid-tempo “Transvestites…” How does he keep cranking out such good stuff? Jeff
@ Steel Cage, PO Box 29247, Philadelphia, PA 19125

Jeff Hanson – “Son” CD 11/44:38
The first few times I heard this record I was certain this was a female singer. Yeah, sure, it’s Jeff Hanson’s record, but he must write the songs and play the instruments – that couldn’t possibly be him singing in that absurdly high register, right? But the folks at his label insist it is him, and by now Hanson has apparently grown used to people thinking he sounds like a girl. “After our first 7”, so many reviews referred to the band as having a female singer,” Hanson says in the press material accompanying Go. That said, I’ll always be skeptical until I see him perform with my own eyes. Anyhow, this is the sort of record you’d expect from a guy with a voice like Hope Sandoval: a nice, sweet album of gentle, guitar-driven tunes. Kevin
@ www.killrockstars.com

Jeffie Genetic & His Clones – “Need a Wave” CD 10/27:02
Solo record from Jeffie Pop of New Town Animals, and when I say “solo” I MEAN “solo”; all instruments were used and abused by the man himself (hence the “Clones” portion of the moniker I assume). As you can probably guess by band name, album title, and cover art, what you get here isn’t so much pop-emo or deathgrindcore but rather wave-influenced punkish popmusik. If it’s not up there with the likes of Epoxies it’s a pleasant enough diversion, though he might not want to quit the day job just yet. David
@ www.dirtnaprecs.com

Jeffrey Lewis - "It's the Ones Who've Cracked That the Light Shines Through" CD 13/40:34
This record borders on genius. The second by this New York City-based songwriter and comic book artist, "It's the Ones Who've Cracked " shines with its take on psychedelic folk music. Usually, it's Lewis with a guitar, sometimes embellished with soft drumming, bass, whale songs, and a knack for fast-paced melodic narrative storytelling. It's the lyrics, in particular, that shine. Like Dan Bern, Lewis writes hilarious and harrowing tales on a variety of subjects, including monsters in the future and his avoidance of acid while on tour. But this is no novelty record it's completely listenable, incredibly varied from song to song, and a fresh modern take on a tired genre. Scott
@ www.thejeffreylewissite.com

Jenny Toomey - "Tempting: The Songs of Franklin Bruno" CD 12/43:33
Once and future leader of Southern California’s Nothing Painted Blue combo, Franklin Bruno is a songwriter of such melodic and lyrical sophistication and skill as to make Costello and Merritt come off as poor relations to Kid Rock and Eminem. Problem is, as has become the bane of many pop songwriters since Elvis, while serviceable, Bruno’s singing voice is maybe not the best means of conveying how great a songsman he is. Which is where former Tsunami lead singer Jenny Toomey comes in on this most fantastic showcase. Toomey’s smoky contralto - Peggy and Brenda Lee making a night of it at Tracey Thorn’s pad - is the perfect device for delivering Bruno’s wordy yet concisely composed ditties. Assisted by members of Calexico among others, the songs inhabit South-of-Border cantinas, late night cabarets, even a dash of the Great White Way of old on the sweetly romantic "Let’s Stay In". Concluding perfectly with the Brill Building rush of "Every Little Bit Hurts", this is a mature, confident and supremely tuneful piece of craftsmanship deserving to be heard by anyone who believes that a good pop song never goes out of style. MLH
@ www.misrarecords.com

Jeremy - "Pop Dreams" CD 15/46:19
Jeremy Morris is sort of a one man band on his releases, and this CD is no exception. He does get help from some of his pals on a few tracks, but Jeremy handles most of the musical chores here, and does it in grand style. The songs sound like they're coming right out of the 60's jangle guitar scene of the Byrds, with additional flourishes of dreamy psych pop and Beach Boys or Beatles "Sgt Pepper" orchestral arrangements on others. The hooks are there; and Morris brings his other influences to the table (he's released over 40 recordings in one form or another-with styles ranging from heavy guitar prog to instrumental work and inspirational religious material) and it all comes through in his songwriting in various ways, sometimes in the use of a sitar, or the hints of swirly synths. The material I prefer are the simple pop songs that could have appeared on the first Big Star record, but all the songs here have lush arrangements and many layers to pick through; you'll hear a surprise at nearly every turn. And the finishing touch of the Beatles "Good Night", revved up to the perfect pace is a fitting end that leaves you wanting more. A fun listen with something for everyone. Steve
@ www.jamrecordings.com

Jericho - "Retrospective 1995-1998" CD 21/74:22
Led by frontman Danny McDonald, who followed this band up with P76 and a great solo record (which is reviewed in this issue as well), this Aussie quartet put out a batch of singles and and compilation tracks over the course of their time together. This is pretty much straight up power pop; nothing fancy or innovative, but it sets the tone for McDonald's later work and most every song on here is solid; take a couple of doses of the Stems and other Dom Mariani work, add some of their American influences like the Replacements (particularly evident in a song like "Alone" or some of the slightly rougher demos) and the Posies, along with semi-popular Brit bands of the era like the Candyskins and Milltown Brothers and you've got a band that absolutely knew how to do the guitar power pop thing to near perfection. Lyrically, McDonald was finding his voice; the songs often focus on love gone awry, but there is often poignancy in the lyrics as they go beyond the typical "she left me and done me wrong" kind of thing. I'd say it's a shame this band didn't do better, but then maybe McDonald's growth as an artist would have been stunted. Either way, with this great retrospective now out, you can hear a master learning his trade in fine style. Steve
@ www.popboomerang.com

Jersey – “Generation Genocide” CD 15/45:16
Major label debut for this Epitaph style Canadian band. They have all the standard melodic hardcore moves down – definitely mining the same territory as Rancid right down to the Tim Armstrong like vocals. Lots of songs about the 9-5 grind, politics and being on the outside looking in, along with one poignant song about the death of the lead singer’s mom, which talks about one’s life being defined as being a good person rather than the amount of material things one accumulates. Nothing out of the ordinary here for sure, but it’s decent and the kids seem to believe in what their singing about. Steve
@ www.umusic.com

Jessica Fletchers - “What Happened To The?” CD 13/42:31
Yet another batch of Scandinavian ne’er-do-wells attempt to pump new blood into the garage-rock corpus not-so-delecti. Their approach, granted, may be more Blues Magoos then Sonics - dig the spacey coda of “Next Monday” - but for the most part, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear these guys’ music in the next Mike Myers cinematic goof on Sixties youth exploitation (whose only purpose, after all, is to goof on gullible post-Millennial youth). MLH
@ www.parasol.com

Jet Black Crayon - “Experiments in the Space Metal Time Signature” CD 4/22:08
Tommy Guerrero keeps himself a busy man; besides being one of the most influential skateboarders ever, he manages to also help run a skateboard company and perform in numerous musical outfits as well. Jet Black Crayon is a jazz/funk/noise outfit that mostly plays improv-type of stuff with a heavy leaning towards the atmospherics, or as it’s referred to in the sleeve of the disc, “drunken meandering”. A nice mellow listen, this isn’t going to change the world but I like it; what’s more, I think the fact that it’s short and to the point really helps it out – I’m not sure if my attention could be held for a full length. Jake
@ www.galaxia-platform.com

Jet City Fix - "Play to Kill" CD 12/44:42
These five guys from Tacoma, WA, can't decide whether they want to rock out with their cocks out or be the next pop-punk sensation after Sum 41 (or Good Charlotte or whoever) to bounce around in a Gap commercial. The band starts off with both guitars blazing on a hard-rockin' number that's pretty much in the same league as the Supersuckers. Then suddenly, they switch gears: the second song grates on me immediately, though not as badly as the nasally theme song from "Malcolm in the Middle." But I shouldn't be so harsh there are some scorchers on this. And I should applaud musical diversity within a CD even if the effect is much like mixing tequila with milk. Lily
@ www.infectrecords.com

Jets to Brazil - “Perfecting Loneliness” CD 12/67:47
From the start, the passionately loved and loathed emo genre really only had 2 options. It could get more stubborn and obtuse, like the brainy hypotenuse rock of Joan of Arc and Braid, or it could get warmer and more user-friendly, emphasizing its big heart and bigger choruses. The latter of the two options was pursued with incredible success by erstwhile emo underdogs Jimmy Eat World and is being pursued by the equally beloved Jets to Brazil. “Perfecting Loneliness” maximizes its guitar firepower, edging the group close to the path of FM radio rock. “You’re the One I Want”, with its major/minor strum and Pixies Jr. chorus, is about as punk rock as Badfinger - which isn’t especially bad. “Further North” is all soft nostalgia, constructed from plaintive acoustic and ghostlike electric hums and moans. The biggest problem with the record is that none of the songs make much of an impression - they’re all sort of shapeless, lacking potency or permanence. They’re sturdy and workmanlike, but they’re also strangely devoid of character and distinction. The Jets fake toward pop, but all they supply is a sort of grey, generic modern rock. All of this makes “Perfecting Loneliness” a completely superfluous record - it’s neither reprehensible nor recommendable. It’s just twelve songs without pretense, without malice and, sadly, without character. J Edward
@ www.jadtree.com

JFA – “We Know You Suck” CD 33/45:22
Rejoice, no longer will you have to pay $50 (or whatever the going rate on eBay was) for a digital copy of these rekkids. The debut seven inch Blatant Localism and Valley of the Yanks album (originally released by the band’s own Placebo label in 1981 and 1983 respectively) are at your fingertips once again, featuring 12 bonus live-n-rare cuts. Seminal skatepunk that’s held up better than many a similar crew with even a few more-than-credible surf covers (and what sounds like a half-surf swipe at War’s “Low Rider”) thrown in for good measure. Even if you sold your board years ago (or never owned one in the first place) you should still pick this up. David
@ www.alternativetentacles.com MP3 Download

Jigsaw Seen - “We Women” CD 3/9:01
Oh, how The New Pornographers and The Rosebuds have raised the bar for today’s modern pop act. It’s no longer enough to be non-offensive, sprightly and occasionally clever...bands have to be clever too, and imaginably no band is more bitter about this development than the Jigsaw Seen. While past efforts by the band garnered favorable press at the time, the band has failed to grow, and “We Women” offers little more than three pop ditties without any noticeable direction or hooks. A very forgettable nine minutes indeed. Ryan
@ www.thejigsawseen.com

Jim Testa - "Songs My Father Never Sang" CD 5/14:24
The main man behind the great 'zine "Jersey Beat", this is Testa's take on some of his memories, from sitting up late at night and listening to the radio to being a geeky high school kid. The original songs are great and hilarious, and even when he's covering a song, like the completely nutty and schlocky "There Used To Be A Ballpark" (about the Brooklyn Bums, err, Dodgers old ballpark Ebbets Field, written for Frank Sinatra by the guy who did "It Isn't Easy Being Green" for Kermit the Frog), he shows off a great sense of humor. With a moog, xylophone, plenty of other synth sounds, and beats that range in style from doo wop, surfy power pop, and even twee-ish indie pop, you've got a mix of material that works together to create a some fun memories of listening in the here and now. Steve
@ www.jerseybeat.com/jimtesta

Jimmy Cliff - “Anthology” 2XCD
Jamaican born Jimmy Cliff’s first hits as a teen in 1962 were ska, but over the course of his long career he delved into rock, pop, gospel and of course reggae. His starring role in the 1972 cult film “The Harder They Come” and songs on the soundtrack made him an international star. The first disc of this set does a great job of covering Cliff’s career from the early hits through the early ‘70s, including his songs from THTC soundtrack. The second disc fails to include most of Cliff’s subsequent career highlights like, “Reggae Nights”, “Treat the Youths Right” and many singles, although it does include “I Am the Living” and “Rub-a-Dub Partner”. Mel
@ www.hip-o.com

Jimmy Fallon – “The Bathroom Wall” CD 14/36:51
Jimmy Fallon may have struck it rich with hosting Saturday Night Live, but I have the feeling he should stick to that because he can’t really make music. Essentially this album should be considered a comedy record set to music because all of the songs are funny (?) and don’t go anywhere. There is the opening track “Idiot Boyfriend” that sounds like a Beck knock off, then the Beastie Boys style “(I Can’t Play) Basketball” rap. Then you have slew of various other styles like country and rock in which Jimmy puts his basic humor to and then the CD comes to an end and then you don’t mind. This is for uber Fallon fans only. Whittaker
@ www.jimmyfallon.com

Joan Baez - "Dark Chords on a Big Guitar" CD 10/44:23
I'm happy to hear that Joan Baez has not lost her beautiful voice. My mom will be so excited! These are not originals, and the songs she covers are by some of my favorites like: Ryan Adams, Gillian Welch, and Steve Earle. If you liked Joan Baez before you'll like her now. If not, I doubt anything will have changed. Sharon S
@ www.kochrecords.com

Joan Baez - “The Complete A&M Recordings” 4XCD
So you’re Joan Baez and it’s 1971; the bloom rapidly fading off the Protest rose, your folk-icon paramour long departed for familial domesticity in Woodstock, and celebrating your very first Top-40 hit with the label responsible for bringing you into the public ear - the same one you have, ironically, also just left. What to do? Pick up your guitar and jump to another label, namely A&M, for whom you will make the fifteen-odd years’ worth of albums collected in this package. Said discs achieved varying degrees of artistic and commercial success; drawing on the then ever-growing pool of singer/songwriters made sure albums like Gulf Winds weren’t lacking in material, even if treading into decidedly Easy Listening waters. When Baez put her mind and heart to a task, however, the results were as good as anything she accomplished in the 60’s. Cases in point: a riveting collage of fervent anti-war minstrelsy, and audio verite from a trip to Vietnam fortuitously timed during the Xmas bombing of 1972, that provides the centerpiece to her Where Are You Now, My Son? album. Likewise the ruefully romantic overview of her association with Bob Dylan that is “Diamonds And Rust”, from the LP of the same name, soon to be improbably covered by Judas Priest. The remainder of what’s here will no doubt be a grande bouffe for Baez fans, and a case of ‘how much Joan can you take?’ for the more skeptical among us. MLH
@ www.universalchronicles.com

Joe Cuba Sextet - "Bustin’ Out" CD /8/29:40
Cuba was one of many who thrived in New York’s ‘Nuyorican Soul’ scene of the 60’s and 70’s, coming up with some damned fine Afro-Latino jams in his time. This lp reissue does not disappoint in its pursuit of the almighty urban groove, its centerpiece being the gleefully filthy, single-entendre mambo of "Pud-Da-Din" (say it fast). The rest is state-of-the-1972-art Latin funk; muy sabrosa and don’t spare the timbales. MLH
@ www.vampisoul.com

Joel RL Phelps & the Downer Trio – “Customs” CD 11/44:23
Former Silkworm member Phelps has carved out a deep socket groove with his solo material since departing from the ‘worm in ’94. His rugged, watery baritone sets him apart from the neo-rock lightweights out there who think rockin’ is about overstatements and dressing up in reverb. On the band’s fourth album, his direct-to-the-balls songs like the drum and bass heavy opener, “From Up Here” and “Kelly Grand” throb with bloody lovely intensity. “Be First” and “Lamplighter” put to shame just about everything else out in the summer rock tour program. When he backs off on a song like “Mother I’m Missing” he writes another chapter in the post-Silkworm canon of expressive rock poetry. The bucking guitar on “Shame”, the sublime melody on “The Lie For The Day”, the earthy expressionism of “Darla Don’t You Go”, all point to an artist that is among the most underrated in all of rock music today. Fuck all the self-serving bullshit of talentless phonies like Chris Robinson, this is the real new earth mud, and one of the very best records of the year. Do yourself a favor, don’t let another year pass without discovering the music of Joel Robert Logan Phelps. Time for me to get off my ass and make some noise of my own. Until we meet again…Anthony
@ www.moneyshotrecs.com

John Felice and the Lowdowns – “Nothing Pretty” CD 13/45:36
This record was originally recorded in 1988, with another Real Kid, Billy Borgioli, and a couple of other pals, and it’s Felice’s favorite of all of his releases. The distribution for the record fell apart just as it was due to come out, so this CD release is the first chance for many to hear it. There are some decidedly power pop moments on it, such as the first track, “Don’t Be Telling Me”, or which has all the classic riffs of “All Kindsa Girls”. But there are other moments where Felice drifts into Spingsteen-ish via Dylan vocal stylings and he sounds like he’s just trying too hard to make the songs something more “meaningful” than they are. But even in moments like that, where he sings “I just want to be with you when your dreams come true”, the melody resonates with some good guitar riffs and energy. This reminds me of pub rock of the late 70’s as much as anything, these guys would make one helluva a great bar band, and you can’t ask for much more than that. Steve
@ www.nortonrecords.com

John Larsen - "Kismet" CD 11/36:51
JL wallows in the musical paella of neo-everything post-rock that says it's okay to melt all the ingredients together in the microwave and slather it with ketchup. In the same way an artist like Panic has too many influences happening at once. Except for the under-recorded "The Fleshling Flail From Heaven" and a dirge-like "You Are My Sunshine", this could all be one long sad song. That's not so bad, except that after the opener, "Saint Sebastion" (sic), and "Venus of Willendorf" it takes too much effort to find the distinctive element in each tune, one part losing its flavor in favor of the others. The operative word is cryptic. I like a lot of what's here, but if I had to grab something to listen to out of thousands of titles would I ever pick this one? Good question. Anthony
@ www.greydayproductions.com

John O’Brien - “Real Life” CD 10/45:42
“She’s got a big heart that shoots out rays of sunlight/Just like the Jesus candle on my bookshelf.” Those kind of opening album lines aren’t necessarily indicative of an overly clever artist, but John O’Brien most certainly is one. While the singer-songwriter genre seems to have hit a creative wall in the last few months, O’Brien doesn’t even bother trying to reinvent the wheel - he just delivers genuine, catchy tracks with melodies that instantly bore into your brain like some mad earwig. It won’t change the way you look at music, but it delivers a filler-free 45 minutes of pleasure, and in these diluted times, what other acts can offer you that? Ryan
@ www.johnobrienmusic.com

John Otway – “Greatest Hits” CD 18/67:01
Okay, I’m willing to admit right out that I love John Otway’s music. It’s British, it’s lunacy, it’s manic, it’s brilliant, it’s really free. I’ve been listening to it since the ‘80s, and it’s never failed. Inspired song titles and subjects, like “Beware of the Flowers (‘Cos I’m Sure They’re Gonna Get You, Yeah),” “Too Much Air Not Enough Oxygen,” “Cor Baby That’s Really Free,” is only doubled by John’s distinctive voice. As with Willie Alexander, whatever song Otway touches becomes his own, like the fine Bob Lind cover of “Cheryl”s Going Home,” or “House of the Rising Sun” (recorded live, he lists everyone in the audience in the CD’s booklet!). Then there’s “Louisa On A Horse,” produced by Pete Townsend, and the absolutely indescribable “DK 50/80.” I could gush on, but I’ll stop with saying that I could just leave this CD on with repeat switched on. The only disappointment is the exclusion of his rendition of “The Highwayman” and his take on the Pitney classic “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” Just makes me look forward to Volume 2. And another tour of the States. RBF
@ www.johnotway.com

John Wilkes Booze – “Five Pillars Of Soul” CD 13/43:24
The five pillars, in case you didn’t know, are Melvin van Peebles, Tania (nee Patty) Hearst, Albert Ayler, Marc Bolan and Yoko Ono. “Five tongues pressing hard, five activists of freedom.” These crazies from Bloomington, Indiana have attached themselves to all five like a disease-ridden pustule. This disc compiles songs that originally appeared as a series of limited hand-made CDs all released in 2002. They find soul in all the strangest places, like the corner of the garage, the thrift store, under the bathroom sink, interlaced with “field recordings.” Songs that dart in and out of the 60s and 70s while seeming to be caught in a time warp all their own. A song like “White Guilt” takes the Blues Explosion and demolishes it into a million pieces. “Marc Bolan Makes Me Want To Fuck Pt. II” is insanely beautific, with sloppy saloon blooze winding around rustic harmonium (?). “Watch Out” pastes a sung and spoken word vocal onto an organ and sax-drenched free-jazz breakdown. “Academy Flight Song” digs its nails into your brain with a simple roiling piano and plays off a “Let’s make some love before we die” mantra while a Marc Bolan sample decries the making of hit songs. “Meanwhile, At The Hideout” may be the best whiteboy revolutionary anthem ever penned. A remarkably well-distilled cocktail of fucked-up rocksouljazz that will definitely be among my top ten records of the year. In the CD booklet there is an 8,000 word, eleven page essay about the five pillars that’s worth the price of admission. Anthony
@ www.killrockstars.com

John Wilkes Booze – “Five Pillars Of Soul” CD 13/43:24
The five pillars, in case you didn’t know, are Melvin van Peebles, Tania (nee Patty) Hearst, Albert Ayler, Marc Bolan and Yoko Ono. “Five tongues pressing hard, five activists of freedom.” These crazies from Bloomington, Indiana have attached themselves to all five like a disease-ridden pustule. This disc complies songs that originally appeared as a series of limited hand-made CDs all released in 2002. They find soul in all the strangest places, like the corner of the garage, the thrift store, under the bathroom sink, interlaced with “field recordings.” Songs that dart in and out of the 60s and 70s while seeming to be caught in a time warp all their own. A song like “White Guilt” takes the Blues Explosion and demolishes it into a million pieces. “Marc Bolan Makes Me Want To Fuck Pt. II” is insanely beautific, with sloppy saloon blooze winding around rustic harmonium (?). “Watch Out” pastes a sung and spoken word vocal onto an organ and sax-drenched free-jazz breakdown. “Academy Flight Song” digs its nails into your brain with a simple roiling piano and plays off a “Let’s make some love before we die” mantra while a Marc Bolan sample decries the making of hit songs. “Meanwhile, At The Hideout” may be the best whiteboy revolutionary anthem ever penned. A remarkably well-distilled cocktail of fucked-up rocksouljazz that will definitely be among my top ten records of the year. In the CD booklet there is an 8,000 word, eleven page essay about the five pillars that’s worth the price of admission. Anthony
@ www.killrockstars.com

Johnie 3 - "Sit On It" CD 12/21:59
They've got the pose down on the front of the booklet, legs spread a bit, guitar and bass slung low, very earnest, all in all, looking very Ramones. The songs are the basic 3 chord stuff, with lyrics like "who said we had to grow up", so you get the idea pretty fast on this one. But, although the genre has been done a million times, these guys have some solid chops and have the hooks to go with it. Everything sounds muddy on this, but I'm guessing that's the result of budget limitations as much as anything. If Ramones-core/Queers inspired punk pop is your thing, these guys rank with anyone else who are sticking true to the genre these days. Steve
@ http://johnie3.iuma.com

Johnny Cash – “Live at Town Hall Party 1959” LP 15/42:13
Johnny Cash is gone now and the world is the poorer, but he left behind an incredible body of work. Listen: I’m not going to tell you this is an essential album, because it's not, the sound is kind of weak, and there is a DVD of the same performance out there. But this is damn fine, damn fine. And you know what? There's something about listening to Johnny Cash on vinyl that just makes sense. This album was recorded live in 1959 with the Tennessee Two, right before the addition of drums made them the Tennessee Three. It's 1/2 of the town hall party set, Town Hall Party was country TV show/barndance that ran from 1953 through 1961, (yup barndance). This is a very good vinyl album from one of the most important performers in the history of music and honestly a pretty neat time capsule. It also features a great version of Johnny doing his best Elvis impersonation during Heartbreak Hotel. Conan
@ www.sundazed.com

Jolenes - "Rinse and Repeat" CD 13/40:09
I think a song about shampoo has to be really clever or the people singing it have to be really cute. >From the cover of this CD, it looks like the three female members that make up the Jolenes are attractive. I'm sure that the band will keep going no matter what I think of this release. That's great because they have potential to get much better, and then we can skip over this CD, where only the singing and spirit of the band are strong. Pam
@ www.lastchancerecords.net

Jonathan Goldman – “ChakraDance” CD 7/61:31
The homepage for Spirit Music – a Boulder, Colorado record label – features a picture of a bearded, pony-tailed man wearing a white lab coat and smiling like he just took seven hits of ecstasy. This man is Jonathan Goldman, creator of “ChakraDance,” author of “Healing Sounds,” president of Spirit Music, and director of the Sound Healers Association. I’m guessing the lab coat is supposed to lend an air of legitimacy to his efforts, which are admirable in their aim but only marginally interesting as music. Each of the seven tracks on “ChakraDance,” his latest album, correspond to the seven charkas (or energy centers) of the body. Dance music for the “body, mind and spirit,” as the booklet says. If you’re familiar with Eastern philosophies you’ll be intrigued by the blend of ancient and modern, organic and electronic. As music though, the results are less than stunning. Each song is different in key and frequency, employing different themes and instrumentation. It’s probably fine if you’re in a club (or as therapy), but listening to this at home will likely put you to sleep. John
@ www.healingsounds.com

Jorma Whittaker- s/t CD 13/38:21
Whittaker is the driving force behind Marmoset, an Indianapolis-based band responsible for Record in Red, one of the most melancholy records of 2001. Perhaps "driving force" isn't an accurate description for anything involving Marmoset or Whittaker's solo work, because if you've ever heard Marmoset you know that the sound is more akin to a plodding or staggering around in the darkness. He continues to keep his shadowy profile on this disc, his vocals sounding slightly off-key and prescription drug-addled at all times, but his work also exhibits a calmness, patience, and clairvoyance that drugs would never permit. This disc is equally 90's indie-pop and Syd Barrett influenced, and purely a strange, sensuous treat to the ears and soul. Xtian
@ www.secretlycanadian.com

Joykiller - "Ready Sexed Go" CD 32/77:02
This anthology from Jack Grisham and the boys is culled from all three records and includes eight unreleased tracks. You know going in what you're getting here: a no frills rock-o-rama that features Jack's somewhat theatrical vocal stylings. The best songs are the ones where they slow it down and let some air in like "Seventeen", "Brainless", "White Boy, White Girl" and the unreleased "Ready To Play", which sounds enough like TSOL to feel a bit nostalgic. Anthony
@ www.epitaphrecords.com

Jr. Ewing – “Ride Paranoia” 13/34:30
Second album from these Norweigians (Oslo), first on GSL. Pretty powerful and intense hardcore, the kind that used to be called emo back in the pre-Hot Rod Circuit/Jimmy Eat World era (albeit closer to Antioch Arrow than Embrace). Fortunately, I don’t see any videos filled with underwear-clad teens in their future. Fresh shit indeed. David
@ www.goldstandardlabs.com

Judith and Holofernes - "Dairymen and Festa Queens" CD 8/28:05
Originating somewhere between the Central Valley and San Francisco, this trio describes themselves as "Fadocore" - a mix of indie rock and Portugese folk music. If you're anything like me, you don't know what the hell that means, so I'll keep this review simple. The lyrics are full of the kind of heartbreaking truths that make you wanna sit next to your speakers and really listen, rewinding back when you miss a line. Even if you don't pay attention to lyrics, each track on this album reminds you just how lovely depression can be. In a nutshell, this is a fucking excellent debut, and you should do yourself a favor and check these guys out. Mona
@ www.fadocore.com

Julia Sets - “An Alternative to Extinction” CD 5/44:43
Grim, hushed, moody songs full of space and echo if not much color or shape. The Julia Sets try to merge the dirge like drone of Low with the anglophilic mope of The Cure, but mostly end up lamely treading familiar waters. The guitars glisten like spun sugar and the vocals are so willowy a breeze could snatch them away, and the sad consequence is that the songs don’t make much of an impression. The singer (no credits for The Sets) at times recalls Edwyn Collins – which would be fantastic if the music he was emoting over didn’t sound like it was up six hours past its bedtime. Too much mood and not enough music for The Julia Sets, a dilemma which robs their woozy space-rock of much of its value. J Edward
@ www.thejuliasets.com

Jumblies – “By the Light of a Blue Moon” CD 14/53:54
The Jumblies belong to a strange sort of post-Cranberries, post-Sundays school of pop, merging wistful female vocals with chugging, toothy guitars. The combination has worked well in other instances (see Bon Voyage), but here it feels weak and lifeless. Blame this on poor production and Tracy Ross’s flat, expressionless delivery. Ross’s reedy alto is pleasant, but hasn’t yet attained character or depth, and occasionally veers off key. Likewise the music, for the most part, is the sort of familiar dream-pop that flooded college dorm rooms in the early 90s. At times they sound like a less imaginative Lush. All of which is to say that The Jumblies are an adequate pop band, but they don’t offer much to improve on a decade-old formula. J Edward
@ www.intelligentrecords.com MP3 Download

Junction 18 - "Heroes From the Future" CD 6/22:29
This is pretty generic stuff, the songs are melodic guitar driven tunes that have some decent moments, but aren't pop enough to stick in your brain, and aren't punk enough to generate any emotional appeal. There are a ton of bands doing this schtick right now, the semi-emotional, heavy guitar, melodic, get one semi-ballad on the record kinda thing, and I guess these guys are as good as any others in the genre, like New Found Glory or No Motiv, but it's all so forgettable. They need to find a hook to grab the listener, be it with the lyrics or the music. Close, but no cigar. Steve
@ www.fearlessrecords.com

June Panic – “Hope You Fail Better” CD 11/41:20
This is a good album and Mr. Panic has an interesting voice, built for singing poppy love songs, but used for singing almost but oddly appealing songs in that newly common convergence of the genres of indie, folk, pop and country. But June Panic is not new. He’s released somewhere around a dozen albums (many self-released cassettes), although this is only his 3rd as a newly reformed man (he has found God). Not as blatantly Christian as The Danielsen Famile, or say Amy Grant, his faith definitely comes into play here. Like Creed for the indie rock set. Oh yeah, he really does sound almost like Kermit the Frog. Sharon
@ www.secretlycanadian.com

Jupiter Affect - “The Restoration of Culture After Genghis Khan” CD 12/47:11
It is sometimes comforting to know that in this chancy post-Millennial world, there are certain things you can rely on. One of them for this writer is knowing that Michael Quercio - eternally pubescent-voiced and Anglo-damaged Los Angeleno - is still hanging in there, kicking out refined, high-quality psych-pop. This is his latest band to follow in the estimable, paisley-shod footsteps of the Three O’Clock, and if that band ever tickled your fancy, you will not be disappointed by the sophisticated yet substantial kick of songs like “Attack Of The Hair People” and the manifold “Hymn Of The Steppes”, nor by the rasping, post-Weller guitar attack of “Damascus Rose”. And speaking of forebears, nice to see Quercio hasn’t lost his affection for a certain Revolver track, as evidenced in the rhythmic underpin of opening cut “Genghis Khan Blues Theme”. MLH
@ www.dionysusempire.com

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