It’s been 21 years since the
inception of Cap’n Jazz, 14 years since their break-up and nearly as long since
the original 1998 release of the 2-CD Analphabetapolothology. Jade Tree decided it was time to pay tribute to the band by releasing that
retrospective of their complete recorded works on double vinyl LP with gatefold
cover, complete with an 8 page booklet, photos and MP3 downloads of all 34
songs (24 of which are on the actual vinyl).
Cap’n Jazz was formed while
Chicagoan brothers Tim and Mike Kinsella were still in high school, and like a
lot of kids, thought it would be a kick to get a couple of pals and start their
own band. Along with Victor Villareal on
guitar and Sam Zurich on bass, they created their own little niche by
creatively blending such genres as emo and post-hardcore into an artier, poppy
punk sound. As their bio so succinctly phrases it, ‘complicated and sloppily
enthusiastic’ music. Tim’s idiosyncratic, off-kilter vocals were pure
old-school punk screaming, often in duet or chorus with the others.
But it was what lay underneath
the vocals that set the band apart from the punk pack. When listening to their
music, it’s obvious that there’s exceedingly creative songwriting and playing
going on that is almost startling. That juxtaposition is quite the head-turner.
While most songs are pretty fast, they occasionally slow down the pace with D.
Boon- like spoken word vocalizations like on “Tokyo”. “Bluegrassish” is a
“Black Mountain Side” type of number (minus sitar) that surprises almost as
much as “BMS” did in the middle of Led
Zeppelin 1. In other numbers there’s the occasional, discordant horn
bleating or harmonica. I was constantly reminded of The Minutemen and Husker Du
flavorings in the music. A pair of live inclusions, “Olerud” and “Forget Who
Are’ showcase their excellent skill on stage.
Pretty talented stuff overall
for a bunch of kids, I’d say. They’ve since devoted themselves to many other
projects like Joan of Arc, Owls, Owen and the Beefheartian Make Believe. Cap’n
Jazz have reformed and are crossing the country to support this re-issue
starting in July. Catch’em if you can.
DOWNLOAD: “The Sands Have Turned Purple”, “Basil’s Kite”,
“AOK”, “Little League” BARRY ST.