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January 13, 1998

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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?"

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