Reader, if you’re a regular visitor to this little corner of the Internet, you know we have a running list of issues—pet peeves, let’s call them.
For instance, we—and let me be clear, when I say ‘we’ I mean more the Royal We, like when the Queen says ‘we.’ Actually, in general, when in doubt, you can assume that my behavioral patterns will usually follow those of Queen Elizabeth II.
Anyway, by way of example on the annoyances thing, we totally hate it when someone incorrectly corrects others on the ‘an historical’ thing. That’s totally the wrong pronunciation unless you speak with an accent that omits the consonant sound of the ‘h’ and therefore need to add a consonant to the end of the indefinite article in order to separate the two words and enhance understanding. Also, maybe it’s not a good idea to let you kids ride their scooters around the very crowded, tiny Brooklyn market while you blithely browse the organic produce. Maybe. I don’t know.
But the gripe that most often rears its head to remind me how very steadily I am becoming a grumpy old man is a seemingly blatant disregard for aesthetic values. It comes up a lot for me—a bodega that’s attempting to appeal to me with a terribly shot photo of what looks like a green-tinged chicken sandwich; the new Brooklyn storefront that, while doing work to tutor kids that I’m sure is totally great, crowds their front display window with really terrible-looking signs and notices on sheets of paper; artists using food in any way in their work (totally grosses me out for some reason); Dr. Z ads. And yes, yes, I realize this reliably places me in the category of yuppie assholes who complain about things that are trivial—just take a look at the comments section of this article and you’ll see I’m well aware of how this conversation goes—but I’m graphic designer. It’s totally part of the job, right?
You might see where this is going, Reader, but another such example of a violent affront to my aesthetic senses are ‘bad’ band names. Archers of Loaf made some badass, totally groundbreaking music, but GOOD GOD, did they lose an ill-advised bet‽ And I was one of the biggest fans of their neighbors, Superchunk, but it took me a solid year or two in my high school days to be able to say that name without gagging. We’ve written about this admitted snobbery before—we’re still semi-convinced that we caused Gobble Gobble to change their name to Born Gold last year—and now it’s surfaced again.
The sign on the door of the downstairs stage at Pianos reading ‘J. Thoven’ during CMJ nearly kept me from entering the room. I somehow couldn’t get the image of a shades-wearing Beethoven-Snoopy hybrid out of my head and was a hair’s breadth away from turning right around and heading for the bar. I persevered though and, walking in mid-set, was, very sadly, immediately taken in by the band up on stage and the powerfully catchy, driving music they were churning out on stage. God dammit.
OC-based J. Thoven’s sound strikes me as pleasingly reminiscent of mid/late-90s emo—that’s like the second iteration of emo, after it was hardcore with singing instead of shouting and before it was mall rock played by guys with eyeliner. With the rapid rimshot percussion, melodic electric guitars, and rhythmic acoustic guitar, Jimmy Eat World‘s Clarity era comes to mind right off the bat. But the twang in frontman Jake Pappas’ raspy voice and vocal harmonies root the band’s songs in something a little more earnest and substantial than a 90s indie-emo throwback and their debut is excellent and compelling from beginning to end. So now, regrettably…tearfully, I must prepare myself to answer without wincing as friends and colleagues ask me ‘Hey, who is this band, they’re awesome?” It’s J. Thoven. For fuck’s sake, it’s J. Thoven.
Listen to and download the title track from their debut EP, City Maze, below and then check out their video for the superb song, “Wash It Won’t Make It Clean”. Though we’ll warn you Reader, if you, like us, are based in the northeast and staring down at snow-covered streets, the cheery scenes of the band running around sunny beaches and playing poolside might be a little tough to take. If you do watch it, be sure to stick with it until the end. There’s a killed old-school emo vocal break.
Photo by Matt Chenot.