Cap’n Jazz

Even though their discography came out in 1998, Cap’n Jazz, being one of the most influential chicago bands in the 90′s punk scene, should be reviewed if only to introduce one new listener to their roots. Cap’n Jazz essentially consisted of the current Owls lineup plus Davey VonBohlen later of Promise Ring fame. Members would later participate in bands such as Joan of Arc, American Football, Owen, and Sky Corvair.
Cap’n Jazz dominated the Chicago indie scene of the early nineties with Tim Kinsella’s little kid voice, confusing word play, and rambling storytelling lyrics. Guitar and bass work was at times complex but often sounded sloppy on purpose, a rushed sense of urgency is conveyed to the listener. Drum work by Mike Kinsella keeps the chaos together and restrains the vocals and guitars from a life of their own. Cap’n Jazz as a whole is a sound that could never be replicated to the same success even later by four of the members together in the Owls. This sound at first seems inaccessible and too broad to enjoy, but after a few listens anyone will begin to feel pumped up by rockin tracks like “Oh Messy Life.”
The most interesting aspect of Cap’n Jazz is probably Tim Kinsella’s word play. Few songs have obvious logic or themes to them. Many include various plays on word aspects such as the rambling Flashpoint: Catheter’s “I know you know traps ease. I know no trapeze.” over and over again. Some songs tell stories that seem to have no point and seem almost improvised if not for how well they flow with the music. Kinsella’s childish voice and occasional cracking screams add to the chaotic temperment of the band.
Jade Tree compiled one of the most satisfying and complete discography that has ever existed. The 2 CD set contains not only every song written by the band including unreleased demos but also a selection of songs from their final live performance and three covers of varying quality.
The first CD is much more listenable than the second and the first 12 tracks compromise the only full length release of the band’s career. “Little League,” “Oh Messy Life,” “Basil’s Kite,” and “In The Clear” will remain four of my favorite songs of all time. The whole compilation is worth these twelve tracks alone. The first CD ends with three unreleased songs and two live tracks taken from their final show at the Fireside Bowl. These final tracks include a rockin cover of A-Ha’s “Take On Me” and “Tokyo” a song that comes across almost as a spoken word session by Tim Kinsella.
The second CD of the set includes a large collection of songs off collections and split CDs many not including all members of the group. This set is hard to listen to and doesn’t flow well but is a treasure for collectors and any true fans. It includes strange variations on covers of “90210″ and “Winter Wonderland.” Still this second CD contains some gems of pure Cap’n Jazz genius. Highlights include songs such as “AOK,” “Rocky Rococo,” and “Ooh Do I Love You.”
Jade Tree should be mentioned for their quality good work in the collection of information and songs. The CD cover contains an opening from the band concerning their time together. Also complete lyrics and explanation of original releases of the songs are included alongside interesting cover art.
This album should belong to any fan of indie rock, emo, noise rock, or punk rock, and any independent music fan ought to at least listen to Cap’n Jazz. It is defintely one of my top five albums of all time if not my favorite album ever released.

Cap’n Jazz

Whether you adored them to tears or they annoyed the hell out of you, there’s no denying their impact on the emo/indie world. Me? I got a copy of their album taped for me by a kind soul named James, who deemed it absolutely necessary for me to have my very own copy.

Over time it got copied for others, worn out, and finally baked in my car. It was remembered as most perfect for road trips and loud singing along.

So yes, I’m one of those who find them brilliant songcrafters. They had a penchant for trying odd things within their songs and making them work wonderfully. Lyrics were filled with smart wordplay, and their songs were just plain great. Energy, wonder, and noisy melody combined with diverse structures, strange approaches, and a dash of pop catchiness here and there. Vocals sing, yell, strain, and break over music that sometimes drifts, sometimes explodes, but almost always rocks. Even now I’m nodding my head, almost singing along.

Being such an amazing band, they broke up. Members went on to the Promise Ring and Joan of Arc, who are also both amazing. Secrets got out, and more people discovered the well of Cap’n Jazz. Bomb threats ensued (well, not quite), and Jade Tree buckled under the pressure, finally releasing this double CD compilation of everything imaginable Cap’n Jazz, including the album, seven inches, comp tracks, and some live and 8-track stuff. And yes, there’s unreleased stuff, so even you need this, Mister Collector.

Jade Tree, 2310 Kennwynn Rd., Wilmington, DE 19810

CaP’n Jazz

The punctuation in caP’n Jazz is correct, as is the obnoxious title. This band, surprisingly enough, has come to be known as one of the founders of midwestern emo rock. With former members of Joan of Arc (yep, the Kinsella trademark wincingly painful vocals are here) and the Promise Ring, caP’n Jazz influenced many other popular emo-rock bands today, including the aforementioned bands, Mid Carson July, Jazz June, the Get Up Kids, and others. This is their anthology, every song ever recorded by the band is here, including some painful covers, a terrible rendition of White Christmas, and plenty of heartfelt, loving, beautiful rocking songs. This may be a bit painful to listen to now, for these guys were just kids then. But listen to it and hear what started the sound, and hear moments of genius among these songs.

Cap’n Jazz [I]Analphabetapolothology[/I] Review

Wow, I hope my first band has a comprehensive, multi-CD retrospective out before I’m 30! We should all be so lucky as Tim Kinsella. Tim has gone on to both beguile and frustrate indie elitists everywhere with Joan Of Arc, but back in the day, Tim, his brother Michael, and this other guy Davey (who now thrills the masses in The Promise Ring) used to have a pretty good band called Cap’n Jazz.
The Cap’n sound is pretty simple to describe — deft, thick guitars charge, the rhythm section keeps things moving along briskly, and Tim alternately babbles and shouts. Kinsella’s vocals were constantly derided once he began fronting a more "mature" band, but in Cap’n Jazz, his hoarseness is actually an advantage. Most of the time you can’t make out what he’s yowling about, but he sure does seem to care deeply, and isn’t that what hardcore is all about?
The first disc of Analphabetapolothology, composed of the band’s only LP, some live tracks, and some demos, is much more consistent than the patchy second disc, which features less well-recorded outtakes, singles, and comp tracks. However, Jade Tree have quite kindly priced the thing as a single CD, so you don’t have to worry about this decrease in quality. Good thing, too, as many of the tunes on the first disc deserve to be heard — there’s the strange eastern-ish "Bluegrassish," the band’s rather surprisingly straighforward take on the A-Ha standard "Take On Me," and the relentless anthem "Ooh Do I Love You," among others. Sure, Kinsella’s lyrics can be pretty silly, and the band’s guitar charge sounds best taken in small doses, but no one’s stopping you from operating the "skip" or "stop" buttons when necessary.
Even if you can’t stand Joan Of Arc, I recommend you give Analphabetapolothology a try. There’s plenty of good pop hooks on here, and Kinsella’s impassioned shouting is no more irritating than say, Ian McKaye’s or Peter Searcy’s. Besides, isn’t it worth owning the complete works of a group christened by Ben Weasel as "the cruddiest and most pretentious band in Chicago?"

Cap’n Jazz [I]Analphabetapolothology[/I] Review

Every generation of indie kids has their own musical Holy Grail. Like Slint’s Spiderland or Rodan’s Rusty, it’s usually a bold, epic, almost revolutionary statement created by a band that has long since broken up and spawned other excellent bands, despite their never managing to escape the shadow of that one incredible album. Cap’n Jazz, a young, volatile Chicago band that broke up in 1995, fits this description perfectly; their only full- length release Shmap’n Shmazz (also known by another title too long to bother writing out fully) is their Holy Grail to the post- emo indie- rock world. The mythos surrounding this way- out- of- print and impossible- to- find album has only increased with time, until Jade Tree Records recently decided to re- release it as part of a compilation of all Cap’n Jazz’s recorded material. If Analphabetapolothology partially demystifies Cap’n Jazz by making their music more accessible, it makes up for it by proving that the music is well worth all the fuss.

Analphabetapolothology is a document of a band whose unabashed enthusiasm is their greatest charm. Even the title betrays Cap’n Jazz’s need to say everything at once; their songs careen at breakneck speeds with ragged guitars falling all over each other in a race to the finish. But it’s Tim Kinsella’s voice– a screechy, hoarse thing– which makes Cap’n Jazz so special. Kinsella’s lyrics spill out of his mouth faster than he can pronounce them, all blending together in a wild, unschooled yowl. He may not be quite on pitch all the time, but his energy is so infectious it doesn’t matter. The first half of Analphabetapolothology, which is Shmap’n Shmazz in its entirety, is the distilled experience of life in all its messy glory; it makes you want to to laugh, cry and scream all at once along with the band.

Being a two- disc set, Analphabetapolothology is a treasure for completists, while rubbernecking passerbys may balk at its length. Truth be told, there’s a lot of material which could have been mercifully cut; after Shmap’n Shmazz’s tracks, the uneven collection of seven- inch releases are a bit of a comedown, although covers of A-ha’s "Take On Me" and the Beverly Hills 90210 theme (remade as a Pavement-y amble) are mildly amusing. In this case, you gotta take the good with the not- so- good; getting a chance to own Cap’n Jazz’s first album in any form is well worth the cost.