A DIFFERENT KIND OF GREATNESS

J. Majesty
S/T
Some Records

Ever wonder what Jawbox would sound like if they had not broken up? J. Majesty is your answer. Hailing from New York City by way of Salt Lake City, this four-piece could pass off as a Jawbox tribute band, if it was not for their uncanny musicianship. J. Majesty succeeds where Jawbox only thought about venturing -- they groove. "No School" has such a simplistic beat, with an almost wah-wah like guitar part and half shouted vocals. Songs like "West Side Highway" and "Heceta" slowly slide along, with quiet guitar and drum parts. "One Three Five" comes rocking from the first beat. There's even two instrumentals on here. The one common area between all of these songs is the fact that they groove. This is where J. Majesty will be able to avoid the simple "they sound like Jawbox" line -- you can't deny these guys' passion for their music, and their talent, either. This might be one of the shortest reviews I will write this year, but why over analyze what is one of the best sounding albums of the year?

- Scott Heisel


 
BASEMENT LIFE

J. Majesty
S/T
Some

J.Majesty's debut album never lets on that the band has only been together for seven months. Powerful grooves roll all over the album and are enhanced by heavy basslines and surprisingly versatile, yet often high-register, vocals. Moving like a machine through the album's eleven tracks, the band is rather adroit at switching between thundering progressions and airy slow numbers. J. Majesty create post-hardcore for the thinking man. Rather than throwing themselves upon the listener, there is a playful quality to the music as well as an unrelenting feeling that these guys care about what they're doing. The songs are surprisingly varied from the wah/noise solos on "No School" to the plaintive acoustic guitar on "Willard North", and a number of the tracks are weirdly reminiscent of late-era Jane's Addiction. In a genre that has become rather repetitive, this record is a reminder that there are still new directions to break out in. Seeing as how these guys have not even been playing together for a year, its safe to say that J. Majesty have the potential to impress a lot of people. Inclusive rather than abrasive, their self-titled debut shows a band taking some chances and stepping outside of a stagnant form.

- Pete D'Angelo


 
CMJ

J. Majesty
S/T
Some

The dramatic J.Majesty manages to somehow be as raw and unbridled as Minor Threat, as ardent and elegant as Sunny Day Real Estate, and as brainy and worldly as Jane's Addiction on its debut. For instance, the anarchistic "No School" is based in hardcore punk, with its spastic vocals and stop-start progressions, but it also has an angular melody and a smoking psychedelic guitar solo. The New York quartet then pulls a 180 by jumping right into the somber "West Side Hwy," a handsome ballad in which the hi-hat leads a worried guitar under the whispers and cries of Jarrod "Spanky" Rowan's manipulative voice. Other tunes borrow Middle Eastern music's earmarks, dabble in minimalism and even venture into the expansive sounds of space rock.

- Kelso Jacks: CMJ New Music Report Issue: 677 - Aug 07, 2000


 
INK 19

J. Majesty
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Some

Starting off with a minimal sorta Jets To Brazil meets the Psychedelic Furs kinda vibe (and this is totally just my ears here) that could be some kind of emo-eighties combination. The drums are spaced but steady, the vocals soar. There's a heaviness to the music, but at the same time a light swing. Melodic and breathing. Sometimes a funk riff slips in but it's quickly thrown down under a flurry of rock, and the vocals come down to earth and growl. There's some meandering wandering almost ballads, with the vocals drifting almost Codeine like. The styles may vary, but the sounds are all strong, and the listening is good... all the way through.

- Marcel Feldmar


 
POP MATTERS

J. Majesty
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Some

Just goes to show how small the world's gotten: even kids from the reportedly music-starved oasis of Salt Lake City love Fugazi. "No School," if you can overlook the whacka-chicka effect on the guitars, could be right off Red Medicine – except that, like the rest of the songs on the album, it sounds as if it's been filtered through the heads of a bunch of guys from the sticks. I can pick out countryish traces of The Grifters on here right alongside the more urban sounds of Jane's Addiction (you don't get more urban than L.A.; "One Three Five" sounds a bit much like "Coming Down The Mountain," to me, but hey, I always liked that song anyway). And going from the country to the city is what this album's all about, unless I miss my guess; on the one hand, you've got off-kilter start-stop guitars, but then on the other there's a rough, backwoodsy edge to things. "No Cop No Stop" is pretty good evidence of the combination – sure, they've got the Minutemen thing going, guitar-wise, but just the title of the song says country backroads, at least to me. I mean, c'mon, how many people who spend their lives in the city know that phrase? Beyond that, a number of the songs mention driving in a car, the ragged "Country" going so far as to come out and declare that the plan is to "ride around the country / see some history." The album feels like a journey that almost mirrors the band's life so far – from the wide-open space of Salt Lake City to the cramped, nonstop claustrophobia of New York City. "West Side Hwy" has to be the high point on here, a quiet, haunting song that would probably work great as a soundtrack for driving some dark night when you don't want to feel any better. A subtle slide-guitar complements singer Spanky Van Dyke's (his nickname, not mine) echoey voice nicely, both of them sounding together like wheels drifting across the pavement under the stars. "Nightlife" is the flipside of the equation, a jerky car chase through seedy city streets at 5 a.m., past broken glass and long-gone friends with sampled city sounds as accompaniment. Further on, "R Is For Rocket" hits almost the same melancholy note as "West Side Hwy," but is definitely a 'city' song, all musings on modern society and satellite technology. So which wins, the countryside or the urban landscape? They're two sides of the same coin, I suppose, and if there's a point to this at all, maybe it's that neither place is necessarily better than the other.

- Jeremy Hart


 
SPLENDID E-ZINE

J. Majesty
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Some

I feel like I'm caught somewhere in the middle of Nothing's Shocking -- you know, that weird, hazy stuff that quietly drifts past your ears leaving you spaced out? While J-Majesty manages to get some off-kilter rhythms going, like the Jawbox-inspired "R Is For Rocket", I keep hearing Perry Farrell in my head. You emo kids are probably muttering foul phrases about me right about now, but before you get a lynch mob together, I will say that J-Majesty not only noticeabley has its shit together, but sends forth some feisty bits of reckless guitar that can get your blood pumping without subjugating you to the same old hyperspeed styled guitar riffs. Spanky Van Dyke's vocals are melodic and moving, but you certainly won't find yourself standing in the shower, ahem, singing with him.

- Andrew Magilow


 
WASTED POTENTIAL

J. Majesty
S/T
Some

I've heard J. Majesty compared to Fugazi, Jets to Brazil and even Jane's Addiction, but none of these comparisons are completely accurate. J. Majesty definitely appeals to fans of those bands, especially Fugazi and Jets to Brazil, but they have a sound that is all their own. In the footsteps of Built to Spill and Jets to Brazil, they incorporate that British invasion, sixties rock and blues sound prevalent in the Beatles, the Who, and other rock bands from that era. What they do next is blend together that sound with a mellow dreamy sound that was made popular by bands like the Sundays and the Pixies. What comes out is a kind of indierock sound that varies form from mellow mood music to straight out rock-n-roll. Definitely appealing if you have acquired a taste for any of the aforementioned bands.

- Brynot