Review Summary: The cacophonous collision of a collective musical prodigy and raw punk spirit.
I find myself unable to agree with the seemingly unyielding need to call Cap’n Jazz an immature band. Indeed, the band’s spirit is youthful, but to call them “immature” is frankly insulting. Shmap’n Shmazz
, aesthetically, comes from a place of energy, earnestness, and childhood for sure, but even in 1995--Tim Kinsella aged 20--there was an unbelievable amount of musical sophistication in the fivesome that was Cap’n Jazz. For a start, any band that could play this sloppily and yet cohere tightly enough to masterfully wield tension and groove is
a sophisticated instrumental unit, owing not only to the reactive rhythm section of Sam Zurick and Mike Kinsella but also to the simultaneously rhythmic and melodic guitar interplay of Victor Villarreal and Davey von Bohlen. Secondly, past any sort of ridiculousness and casual amateurism on this record is, undoubtedly, composition
: notable moments of utter genius include the red herring climaxes on “Basil’s Kite”; the in-and-out drifting of guitar, piano, and vocals on “Bluegrassish”; and the insane shifts of groove and mood on closer “Que suerte”. Tim Kinsella all the while howls fever dreams into your ear, screaming some sort of urgent truth that only he can comprehend. I’ve said of the latest Owls
record that I often find myself listening only to the band
as a single unit--rarely just vocals or guitars or drums or bass--but in returning to Shmap’n Shmazz
, I can often hear the same cohesion even as far back as this, only with the quality of youth and excessive heart-pouring imbuing and enhancing this record into something truly remarkable. Make no mistake, even though Cap’n Jazz may sometimes sound like one big wall of noise coming from five teenagers with practice amps in a garage, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t completely brilliant.