Remember the detached, astral quality that Jane's Addiction's songs seemed to possess? J. Majesty sparks that same sort of sensation in my mind. Hailing from New York by way of Utah and Idaho, J. Majesty deliver indie-rock that not only evokes comparison's to Jane's; Wilco, The Afghan Whigs, The New Rising Sons, and even Pearl Jam spring to mind when listening to the album. It's all put together with sort of a jazzy, almost freeform quality that makes the music very fluid...almost sloppy, even, but in a good way (think Pavement; yet another band for reference). This album is one you'd listen to on that Saturday afternoon, when you're loafing around the house, not really doing anything, with no distractions. Put it on and let it unfold. (MHo)
(Some Records -- 122 W. 29 St. 4th Floor, New York, NY. 10001; http://www.some.com/)
Six Bullets Past Midnight
Ah, those crazy ska gangster kids... Hard to believe when you think about it, but the gangster motif's been a part of the ska milieu since the earliest days back in Jamaica, when block-party toasters dressed up in James Cagney-style suits and went around calling themselves "King" this and "Scarface" that. Unfortunately, beyond the album art, band name, and the lead song on Six Bullets Past Midnight, Jimmy Skaffa don't have a whole lot in common with those early gangster types. Most of the songs on here revolve around much more mundane stuff, like hating your boss, being hit on by idiots, losing in love, and generally being down on your luck.
But hey, who listens to ska for the lyrics, anyway? If you can just sort of tune 'em out, I'd highly recommend this CD -- the band does some great stuff, musically, with a fine horn section (love the horn lines in "Sharkin'" and "Six Bullets," in particular) and a female vocalist who rings all the right Dance Hall Crashers bells, but if you stop dancing and listen to what she's singing, well...it's not the greatest. "Manager" and "Magic City" are the absolute low points, I'm afraid; the latter almost sounds like the band's lyricist would rather be playing in a fantasy-obsessed prog-rock band, what with all the references to prophecies and battlefields and the like.
It's a shame, really, because the music here is some pretty good, above-average ska, reminiscent of the less rocking moments of the aforementioned DHC and of Houston's Secret Agent 8, among others. "Six Bullets" is a great, supremely catchy song, and tracks like "Simple Times," "Sharkin'," and "Last Call" would all be fine efforts if the lyrics were retooled somewhat. Halfway there, folks... (JH)
(Slimstyle Records -- 3400 E. Speedway, Suite 118-272, Tucson, AZ. 85716; http://www.slimstyle.com/; Jimmy Skaffa -- http://www.mitec.net/~jimmy/)