Review Summary: Absolutely everything punk rock music should be, its chaotic, agressive, energetic and has emotion by the truck load. A seminal album that went on the influence hundreds of bands.Cap’n Jazz
need no introduction for most people on this site, however for the less informed they are a seminal emo/noise band that combines elements of pretty much every wave of emo music from Rights of Spring
to Sunny Day Real Estate
to The Get up Kids
. Members of this band, most notably brothers Tim and Mike Kinsella, have gone on to form Make Believe, The Promise Ring, American Football, Owls, Ghosts and Vodka, Joan of Arc
. Both We Are Scientists
and Scary Kids Scaring Kids
took their names directly from a Cap’n Jazz
song; needless to say they have been somewhat influential. Their heyday came during the underground Chicago hardcore scene of the early nineties, where they were separated from other bands of that scene through singer Tim Kinsella’s girly pop punk vocals and story telling style. Although the band split in July 1995, their Greatest Hits, if you could call them as having had any hits, was released three years later under the name Analphabetapolothology
. This released allowed them to gain more success than they ever achieved whilst as a working band. Jade Tree Records did a great job assembling this collection which is to my knowledge everything Cap’n Jazz
ever released during their existence.
It is really quite difficult to really pin the sound of the band down. Their music is at times reminiscent of the Mid West Emo scene and at others more like the original emo bands like Embrace
and Indian Summer
. Most of the songs are a chaotic amalgamation of so many different styles of music. For the most part their music is played extremely sloppily, especially during their more aggressive moments but this only adds to the sound of the band. As well as aggression they are also capable of melody in abundance, often using a lot of fast strumming on clean chords in a similar fashion to Saetia
. The guitars are simply all over the place, overlapping constantly in a chaotic concoction of hardcore noise, while all the while drummer Mike Kinsella attempts to retain some form of order in their songs, which he is very adept at doing. Its hard to say that the guitars are particularly impressive seen as they are played in such a sloppy manner but its something I find very unique about the band and really gives them a sound which is their own. The songs feel simple whilst I’m listening to them but at the same time it’s hard to really know what’s going on most of the time. It is also claimed that Cap’n Jazz
are a catchy poppy band but this music is not accessible stuff, it takes a while to appreciate for what it is and the DIY production values make this no easy listen first time through.
The most interesting thing about the band for me and I would of thought most other people is Tim’s vocals. Compared with his peers he sounds like a small child attempting to sing in a hardcore band, yet surprisingly it completely works. His lyrics and style often seem improvised on the spot and he rarely sings in tune, yet it is the raw emotion which shines through and hardcore was never meant to be in tune anyway. Tim screaming voice has a subtle difference to his singing voice most notably in that it sounds like a shrill scream of catharsis and emotion where as his singing voice is deeper and slightly more melodic yet not even vaguely in tune. He tries to tell a story with his lyrics although many of them seem to mean very little or at least I can’t decipher a meaning.
At an almighty thirty four songs in length I’m not going to bore you with the details of every track, but ill let you in on some of my favorites. Little League
opens the collection and fades in with some melodic chords and an opening scream of energy by Kinsella. The lyrics are actually very strong, “Hey coffee eyes. You got me coughing up my cookie heart. Making promises to myself. Promises like seeds of everything I could be”
although they are often hard to pick up. The song has a great upbeat feel to it and the it sums up the bands sound really well. The mellow break around two minutes in with the overlapping vocals and the words, “Kitty kitty cat, kitty kitty cat, I'm feeling heavy”
might not seem to make an awful lot of sense but it sounds excellent before the song bursts into an epic finale with Kinsella at his best screaming over some frenzied drummer and distorted chords. Oh Messy Life
is equally as amazing as its predecessor, the chorus is so catchy, I’ve had the lines, “And you are colder than oldness could ever be. and you are bolder than buzzing bugs,”
in my head all day after listening to this album. The song is heavier and more aggressive than the previous song but it’s in my opinion slightly superior. The guitars toss, turn and slice through two minutes of punk brilliance, while the drumming is spot on as always. Basil’s Kite
is a great indicator of the bands melodic side before it once again erupts after a mellow, slower beginning.
As I said at the start of this review most people will have heard Cap’n Jazz
amongst the internet music community but if you haven’t then take this on with on open mind. It not polished and it’s not always an easy listen but give it some time and like me you’ll hopefully grow to love it. This is Punk at its finest and by rights it should of revolutionized the emotive hardcore scene, however seen as hardcore and what is usually considered emo are no longer on speaking terms it sadly looks likely to fade away into obscurity.