JESU: Heart Ache and Dethroned: 2 x CD/ 2 x LP

Jan 11, 2011

It has been written (and this reviewer agrees) that the EP is the proper medium for Jesu (pronounced Yay-sue). So what might be better than what is essentially a double EP? The first disc, Heart Ache is only two songs, but combined they clock in at around forty minutes. Heart Ache is actually a re-release of Jesu’s first EP, released in 2004. Being that Justin Broadrick (who essentially is Jesu) had just broken up his industrial project, Godflesh, the similarities are much more evident than on Jesu’s most recent work. The electronic smash of the drums especially strikes one of the same pummeling that Broadrick’s industrial act offered. The two tracks aren’t entirely cutthroat, though. The second track, “Ruined,” starts with a five minute, minimalist piano taken straight from the M83 playbook. It’s quite pleasurable in its own right, but all that is taken away when the churning guitars kick in. The second EP, Dethroned, was originally started in 2004 but not completed until 2010. It’s interesting to note the range of Broadrick’s music on these four songs. While the Godflesh guitar aspects are occasionally there, there is also the shoegazing influence rearing its head throughout. Like much of Jesu’s previous releases, the sounds are always compatible and work well together. Furthermore, the emotional qualities of other Jesu works is still here: that of sadness, dreariness, and morose connection to one’s own psyche, while it holds hands with this little glimmer of something better. While I wasn’t sure about this double album at first, repeated listens have shown me that it’s an efficient medium for understanding the full range of Jesu’s sound. That being said, it might be a good place for a new listener to begin to check out the band.

 –kurt (Hydra Head))

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NIGHT BIRDS: Roll Credits: LP/CD

November 26, 2018
If anyone is going to release an album—or mini-album as the band refer to this as, containing just eight tracks—then the pressure is on to ensure that there is an absence of filler. Fortunately this is Night Birds, a band renowned for eschewing padding and one which also leaves no stone unturned in its approach to writing a great tune. Roll Credits include instrumental bookends, a specialty of this former quartet now sporting a second guitarist, and they do a grand job of containing the mayhem in between. My favorite, of many highlights, is at the start of the second track, “Onward to Obscurity,” where, as the intro plays, Brian Gorsegner’s desire to get involved in proceedings is evident as he screams his way into commencing his vocals on one of the best songs I’ve heard from Night Birds. Mind you, competition for that title is hot here as “White Noise Machine” is another contender, going by in a blur of seventy-five seconds. Mention must also be made of “Radium Girls,” which sounds to me like a midway point between Night Birds and Gorsegner’s other band, Character Actor, highlighting that it’s not all about the speed and that there is room for a hint of pop too. Few bands can touch Night Birds. In my opinion, it never fails to deliver, and I consider this to be its finest release to date. I would always want more songs, but Roll Credits has the feel of being something extra special about it and I think it’s the brevity that results in this being a perfect release. –Rich Cocksedge (Fat Wreck)
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