The James Cleaver Quintet
17 June 2013
by Gavin Lloyd
Assuming the UK rock scene was the frozen aisle in your local supermarket (which I’m going to), the likes of You Me At Six and Lower Than Atlantis would be the pizzas, you know what you’re getting but still plenty of people of love them. While the likes of Yashin would be the horse-filled Findus ready meals, awful and while hardly household favourites are far more popular than they have any right to be. As The JCQ gear up to release their second album Mechanical Young, they find themselves being the musical equivalent of the beloved treat that is a tub of Neapolitan ice cream.
Firstly there is the centre of the tub, the vanilla which is what The JCQ are at their core – a schizophrenic British punk band that could happily sit alongside the likes of Rolo Tomassi and Pulled Apart By Horses. The galloping drums and off kilter guitars that defined the band’s debut are still present here, with the frenzied pace of ‘No Kind of Man pt 1’ being a circle pit favourite in the making.
However there is also the strawberry side of Mechanical Young which comes in the form of some serious party vibes. Driving bass lines propel stomping choruses and singer Jack Swagger’s vocals have a touch of Head Automatica-era Daryl Palumbo on the dance floor friendly shimmy of ‘Love’s No Good’. While the sultry sounds of ‘Aspidistra’ recall Faith No More at their most fun. A definite album highlight as a catchy chorus gives way to an almost neu rave-esque feel good sing along before being devastated by a grisly wave of distortion crashing through it.
Which leads to the guilty pleasure that is the chocolate section of The JCQ’s tub of treats which is their dark side. B-movie horror house synths subtly permeate the likes of ‘Plainview’, while album opener ‘Ghosts Diffuse’ and closer ‘Ruin Age’ come loaded with the slow building, apocolyptic riffing that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Mastodon album.
Watch the video to ‘Ghosts Diffuse’ by The motherfreakin’ JCQ
It might sound like a bizarre mix and to be honest it is. With that said, when maverick ice cream pioneer Dr Derek Neapolitan combined those three flavours of ice cream everyone laughed and called him a fool, before going on to break all his cornets in half. (I imagine). Needless to say he had the last laugh, as do The JCQ by having the same reckless attitude to their music as he did to frozen dessert products. Unlike all those bloody conservative squares who are contempt to eat just one flavour of ice cream, Mechanical Young mixes things up and it’s a taste sensation. So go nuts, embrace your wild side – #YOLO, as the kids would say – and treat yourselves. Trust me. It’s delicious.
Sounds Like: Schizo Disco Doom Punk
Standout Tracks: Aspidistra, Your Love’s No Good, Ghosts Diffuse