The Jonx, The Return of the Death of the Legacy of the Revenge of the Jonx

The Jonx, The Return of the Death of the Legacy of the Revenge of the Jonx

Sometimes, you either get something or you don’t. That’s the conclusion I came to when I saw Houston rockers the Jonx play a few years back; after the first two or three songs, my wife was grimacing and shaking her head. “This sucks,” she grumbled, “let’s get out of here and see who else is playing.” Being the dutiful husband (since I’d already dragged her out of the house on a weeknight to see several bands she’d never heard of), I agreed, and we bailed as surreptitiously as we could from the tiny confines of the club.

Far from being annoyed or disgusted, though, I’d been standing there with a big grin on my face. While apparently the off-kilter indie-rock stylings of the Jonx wasn’t my wife’s cup of tea, for me I was drawn back to the early days of post-punk noise, back when nobody knew what the hell people like Pere Ubu and Sonic Youth were doing, so they just called it “punk.” Listening to the band was like rifling through old Fugazi, Minutemen, and June of 44 albums, what with all the shouted-sung vocals, weird time signatures, and disjointed guitars that sound like noise until you listen real closely and hear the sound coalesce into a half-buried melody. I thought it was great.

Fast forward a year or two, watch a couple of band members fall by the wayside (Shawn Durrani and Viki Keener, who I believe were still in the band when I saw ’em), and the remaining Jonxers finally have an album out, The Return of the Death of the Legacy of the Revenge of the Jonx. And while it’s not as turbulent and messy as the live show I caught, the elements I liked are still there. Tracks like “Metal,” an alternately speeding/stomping take on sludge-metal that comes off like Ian MacKaye fronting the Melvins, the muscular groove of the instrumental “China’s Fault,” and a lower-key (but still tense and menacing) version of “Murder” all recall those same noisy, quirky rock touchstones.

The songs intersperse Stu Smith’s sharp, angry guitars with Trey Lavigne’s churning basslines and Danny Mee’s collapsing drums, and marry it all with yelled and spoken lyrics from all three, and the recipe works pretty well. Put all together, it carries an air of danger, which ably deconstructs any kind of pretentiousness and makes me want to compare the band to The Vehicle Birth or NoMeansNo. (I should probably note, by the way, that Danny’s also a contributor to Space City Rock, but trust me — he gets no special treatment here.)

Lyrically, The Return of… seems pretty bleak, at least at first. A lot of the songs touch on violence and disillusionment in various forms (see “Metal,” “Man Without a Country,” and “To Your Health,” for three), but at the same time, there’s an underlying optimism. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the band’s being serious or applying that patented Indie-Rock SarcasmTM (as on “Everything Makes Me Happy,” especially considering its “flipside” track, “Everything Makes Me Sad”), but when I listen to “I Party to Celebrate Friendship,” it seems unthinkable that they’re not being sincere. Tracks like “Orange Like the Future,” though, give the proceedings a kind of paranoiac, claustrophobic feel. I guess that while music can sometimes be black-and-white, it doesn’t always have to be.

(Mustache Records -- 322 Aurora Street, Houston, TX. 77008; "mustachemustachemustache" at "gmail dot com"; The Jonx -- http://www.thejonx.org/)
BUY ME: CDBaby

Review by . Review posted Tuesday, January 24th, 2006. Filed under Reviews.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply


H-Town Mixtape

Upcoming Shows

Categories

Archives

Recent Posts

Links

Our Sponsors