The JCQ

Mechanical Young

Written by: JWM on 16/01/2014 13:05:01

One opportunity that comes forward in January is a chance to sweep up the previous year's gems that slipped from under our radar. And here I am wowed by the exquisite effort of The JCQ on their second studio album "Mechanical Young". Of course, they weren't always known as the The JCQ: they abbreviated their name from 'The James Cleaver Quintet' after there being a large amount of confusion about it. And with this second album they dazzle all those who thought the first was a bit too chaotic. Their first album "That Was Then, This Is Now" was a prime example of the underground scene's production of experimental and artistic hardcore bands, splicing influences from Blood Brothers and The Bronx with jazz breaks and brief mariachi arrangements, it was a challenging post-hardcore record to say the least. Yet here with "Mechanical Young" they have released something as progressive and intriguing as it is rocky.

Opening with the droning, metallic notes of "Ghost Diffuse" the band slowly but surely kicks into a full assault coming from all directions, with organs giving a short and fantastic break before the yelled chorus comes in. "Plainview" stretches this style further in, with epic punk rage loud enough to make you stand up and rock out. "Aspidastra", "Love's No Good" and "Amidship & Afloat" form a sort of funk-rock trilogy in the album, with "Love's No Good" showing raw, soaring vocals which convey a lot of emotion. The best thing about songs like "Love's No Good" is that it highlights all the brilliance of this record's sound, no breakdowns, no screaming, and yet furious at points and catchy at others.

Splitting up the catchy and distinct "No Kind Of Man" in two parts is the instrumental piano led minimalism of "(iii)". Its production is so analogue and retro in its approach that you can actually hear the buzz from the equipment subtly in the background as the piano and guitar chords hit high treble notes. The album then closes with "Ruin Age", stylistically acting as a reverse to "Ghost Diffuse", opening with great vocal melodies and a good rock vibe, only to descend into sludgy, metallic guitars.

As great as an album "Mechanical Young" is, I can still find issues. For one thing it lacks more songs with single-potential like "Love's No Good". Despite this, melody and catchy moments are scattered across the whole album, but sometimes a song or two more would really contribute. Another thing is that in some ways the lack of direction on songs like "Resurrection Revenue" and "Aspidastra" feels like they didn't know how to conclude them. But I can see the charm in their dynamic nature, it shows that not every song needs to get comfortable and repeat parts.

The JCQ are simply put a garage band writing songs big enough to be played in academies, and that is tragic affair to be involved in. Perhaps some day it'll pay off and they'll be acknowledged by the right people, but until then, "Mechanical Young" is a brilliant fusion of math rock's technicality, funk rock's groove, the emotional conveyance of post-hardcore and a experimental nature all wrapped into one packcage I'll be sure to love for a while.

9

Download: Love's No Good; Plainview; (iii)
For The Fans Of: The Bronx; Faith No More; Fun Lovin' Criminals; Rolo Tomassi
Listen: The JCQ's Facebook

Release date 17.6.2013
Hassle Records

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