Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Jay-Z/ J Church, I

Jay-Z- The Black Album

I’ll come right out and say it: I don’t know shit about shit when it comes to Jay-Z. As a matter of fact, the only reason I bought this disc is because of all the buzz generated by Dangermouse’s ‘Grey Album,’ a mash-up of this record and the Beatles’ ‘White Album’. I have listened to the latter maybe a grand total of ten times and hang out with a bunch of Beatles fanatics. Most of the jokes went over my head, except for like ‘Cry Lady Cry,’ which I know because Samiam covered it. (I know, right? Pathetic.) I felt like I should know at least half of the science being dropped, so I went out and bought this.

I listened to this record a lot as I was quitting my good-paying, kinda cushy job at a very prominent Boston restaurant. Jay-Z talking about how they only appreciate you when you dead or you gone totally hit me in the sentiment as I wandered around in the city wearing my headphones, passing out resumes, totally insulted that I didn’t get so much as a card after close to four years of doing a superlative job in my workplace. But that’s how it is.

J Church- Arbor Vitae

The only time during this entire project that I have had to check a band’s chronology on the ‘net. I’ve got a good head for dates and running orders, but man, J Church put out so much stuff that it was nigh impossible to keep up for a while. The Guided By Voices of punk.

Whenever the band goes into the studio to record a long player, it always spends a good long while in my stereo. The umpteen singles are occasionally amazing, but the duds tank (though there is something, of course, to be said about sheer quantity- hell, here I am reviewing three records a day.) The LP’s tend to be very focused- none of the scattered and varied production values of singles/comps, you understand.

I spent an entire summer driving around listening to a dub of ‘Arbor Vitae’ and ‘Do You Know Who You Are?’ The production is tough and gritty, solid, with rough-edged two minute pop-punk gems cutting you in the face as they whiz by. Female backing vocals and keyboards add weight and substance. If I was more familiar with the work of Leatherface, I might try and compare that band’s records by dint of singer Frankie Stubbs’ production credit, but I have no idea. The best of the band’s LP’s (at least until ‘One Mississippi’ came out.)

MIX TAPE: Contempt For Modesty

J Church- Analysis, Yes, Very Nice

They’re doing something right, J Church- I have the six records listed here, plus the three LP’s, one EP and one singles collection that I bought pre-1997. Whenever they put out something new, I’m there in the store, waiting in line. Having said all this, though, the band can be fucking infuriating. Sometimes I wish they’d take more time to record quality product rather than farting out these poorly-produced clunkers. ‘Analysis’ sounds tinny and underdeveloped and I feel like a sucker for buying it.


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