Permanent Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/26/2000
People tend not to like it when I make comparisons of one group to another of the past. Well, bear with me on this one, 'cause it will be worth it.
Imagine, for a moment, KC & The Sunshine Band. (Oh, stop whimpering; they weren't that bad.) Now imagine that Trent Reznor was part of the group... and the lead singer was Alanis Morissette.
Adrenalin overload, right? Welcome to the world of Jam Pain Society, whose independent disc Disco 13 invokes all of these memories in a disc that takes a little time to get used to, but turns out to be well worth the effort in the end... with one exception, but we'll get to that later in the review.
This quintet from North Carolina reminds me a lot of the Australian band Cyclefly in their electronic leanings, but they also lay down a groove that could easily have been lifted from any disco record from the '70s. But what's interesting is that the way they attack the music makes it seem not so much campy, but quite innovative. I mean, I hate disco music, but I like this CD. 'Nuff said.
Vocalist Leah Kirby provides the first dose of musical attitude that Disco 13 smacks you in the face with. There's almost a punk-like sneer in some of her vocals, such as on "C'mon Get Heavy" or "Dayglow" -- but that makes her work all the more charming. Backing vocalist Jed Fisher and guitarist/vocalist Chris Hill add to the mayhem on tracks like "World War 44" and "Medicine."
Musically, Jam Pain Society is solid as well. Hill's guitar work is quite good, and the rhythm section of bassist Tony Miller and drummer Nick Campbell helps to solidify the groove. DOn't be surprised to find yourself going back to tracks like "WAD" or "Nervous". In fact, don't be surprised if you find yourself going back to 10 of this disc's 11 tracks.
Ah, the 11th track. The 11th, unlisted track, "Not Invited To The Block Party." Not so much a song as snippets of music interspersed with answering machine messages, most of which are begging the band to turn it down. I don't mind cutesy things thrown on the end of an album most of the time, but this track just goes on, and on... and on, far past its welcome. I hate this track -- I mean, if I knew a way to obliterate it from my copy of this disc, I would.
If it weren't for this one indiscretion (and, sorry, gang, but it's a big one), Disco 13 would be a much better album. As it stands, Jam Pain Society have done an admirable job, even if it will knock you for a loop at the start. Once you've restored your breathing rate to normal, you'll find that Disco 13 is a good disc to boogie down, groove, or even mosh to. And you won't even have to polish up your big, old, ugly medallions or dust off that lime green leisure suit.