Friday, June 26, 2015

Cassette Review: Psychic Jiu-Jitsu "Psychic Jiu-Jitsu (LP)"

[$5 // Edition of 100 //]

I'm not entirely what the idea of Psychic Jiu-Jitsu means-- I know what the two concepts are alone but can't come up with a good idea of them when placed together like this-- but to me it just sounds cool and that's all that matters.   You know, you see Psychic Jiu-Jitsu on a t-shirt and that's something you're going to look up on the google.   In any event, the music on here isn't psychic but perhaps could be psychedelic which is sort of the same in pronunciation and spelling but not too many other ways.   Is Psychic Jiu-Jitsu knowing what your opponent is going to do before they do it?   All I can think of is Hong Kong Phooey, man.

The cassette begins loud.   I mean, real loud.   There are cymbal crashes and high pitched vocals.   It's like the Mars Volta but somehow also reminds me of Chiods on some level.   I think to myself that this is an interesting sound and as I am settling into it the second song comes on and it turns into a garage thrash.   There are nice melodies in the guitars and it also just feels a bit wild and a bit distorted.   It's not the same as the song before it, so I feel like maybe there are two different lead vocalists, but I'm not really sure and I don't care because it's been fun listening to it so far.    The next song goes back to the higher pitched vocals from the first song- and in a psychedelic way at that- but the last song instead has the chugging of a locomotive.

Side B opens with a little bit of funk and I'm thinking of The James Gang.    It's definitely psychedelic still and then some Lucero comes out in that almost-country way but not quite really.    From a swooshy space odyssey to some straight up clank, Psychic Jiu-Jitsu spends time exploring several different paths but they all seem to be off the same road.    It's one of those nice and sadly too rare times when I can actually listen to songs without thinking, "Oh, look, here are x number of songs that all sound just a little bit different".

There is something to be said for bands that release albums where their songs sound similar to the extent that if something is broke don't try and fix it.   I remember when Andrew W.K. first released that "Party Hard" song and my then ex-girlfriend made me listen to the entire CD.   All of the songs sounded exactly the same and I couldn't help but wonder why we ever dated.    But some bands aren't even that transparent.   Look at any number of the musicians on the radio and you'll find only the slightest variations in each of their songs.   They call it their "signature style" but I call it lazy.   I wonder why you would write a song and then want to write the same song ten times over, or for that matter play them live.

If on first listen it doesn't sink in, it will within several listens and you'll be able to tell just how these songs are related though it might be a more distant relationship.    Still, this doesn't feel like a compilation and as such you can only respect the craft of Psychic Jiu-Jitsu for being able to master these songs which are both so different and yet the same altogether.   There are no fancy "RIYL" press clippings that I can put with this simply because there is no comparison and this is a journey I feel everyone needs to take at least once in their lifetime.

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