Review Summary: Mixing an unbelievable amount of influences, The James Cleaver Quintet offers one hell of an album, a strong contender for the best debut ever."If you manage to listen to all 13 tracks without wanting to punch a wall in, you're a bigger man than us, sir."
- FRONT Magazine
The James Cleaver Quintet’s Jimmy Diego once threw his Fender Jazz Bass guitar 3 feet in the air, caught it with his face and broke his nose, resulting in “more blood than a KFC slaughterhouse.” That pretty much sums up the JCQ. Hailing from Easbourne, UK and the surrounding areas, they describe themselves as “Circus Punk.” Having been together for four years, they’ve managed to release an EP, a full length and tour with various bands such as The Safety Fire and Turbowolf, and earn themselves a slot on Download Festival 2012.
Many bands attempt to fuse different influences into a coherent sound, and many fall incredibly short of the mark, attempting to satisfy the fans with a 40 minute incoherent mess. South-Eastern UK punks The James Cleaver Quintet have succeeded with their debut, proving for almost essential listening. Because the band succeed in blending such an unbelievable amount of influences, from the crazy noise-infused to the straight up punk rock of the 80s, the thirteen track album, which runs just over fifty minutes, is almost impossible to pigeonhole into a single genre.
Album opener “Golfing Pros, Bitches And Hoes” (a strong contender for song name of the year) sees the band experimenting with song structure, dynamics and breakdowns. Opening with an eerie sample, the song kicks straight into the main riff, which in itself sums up the album, crazy and disjunct, but it somehow works. The rest of the song flies by in the same manner, apart from the absolutely crushing half-time breakdown. The album flies by in the same manner up until its midpoint “The JCWho?” This track sees the JCQ at their most experimental. The track has a heavy Cuban jazz influence, offering huge singalongs in the choruses. Album highlights include “Golfing Pros, Bitches And Hoes”, “The JCWho?”, “Trading Water” and eight minute album closer “Hang The Bastard.”
Against all odds, the album flows beautifully, even though it seems as though normal song structures are alien to the band. This is one of few records that actually makes the transitions between genres seem natural, without sounding forced. The album was produced by the band themselves, and each instrument is perfectly placed, the bass is thick and audible, unlike most hardcore releases.
Whilst one can argue that the album length drags a little, resulting in many songs sounding somewhat similar and repetitive, what the JCQ offer us here is an album unlike anything released before. For those who can sit through it all, it sure is a hell of a ride.