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The Joggers – With a Cape and a Cane

October 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Star Time International, 2005

What the heck?  What did I have for lunch?  Where am I?  These are the questions that numbingly floated around in my skull when I glanced at this album cover.  I suppose this could be the inside of some sort of psychedelic cathedral, so I suppose it could hint at the music lying within its confines.  Despite its garish grab for attention, the album art has to beat a cover of an actual jogger running around in a jumpsuit.  Well … unless you’re Little Mac and dig the pink.  Since I had vaguely heard of the band through a co-worker at the time, the money was easily spent.

The Joggers are a rock group from Portland, Oregon that had been getting some good recognition back then in 2005 for this record and other releases.  I’m sure the album art had something to do with it too, right?  What makes the Joggers stand out from music of that year is that unlike their indie rock compatriots, the Joggers never sound boring after trying the same song repeatedly.  This is quite a good record.

The opener of “Ziggurat Traffic” immediately begins with something that sounds like it’s from the far east somewhere, but then quickly collides into a whole lot of Gang of Four.  The quick rise and falls, as well as the heavy bass line between raucous verses, gives me that impression.  In four minutes the song feels like a meal, for there is so much going on that one rides the line between deeming it the song as chaotic or a song with a direction.

Other songs that sound excellent are “Wicked Light Sleeper” and “Since You’re Already Up”.  The former tune is another one that sounds just like Gang of Four, at least with the singing style of vocalist Ben Whitesides (you know, that sometimes sharp, sometimes bored tone).  The bright guitar riff that starts off the song, however, is modern all the way.  “Since You’re Already Up” has a darker opening but is quite consistent in its eventual uplifting tempo.  “White Madam”, however, trumps both of those tunes with its excellently chirpy guitar riff that repeats throughout.  It also carries a bit of anxious gloom with it, so even though the energy is high I can’t help but feel this isn’t a positive tune.  If you’re going to listen to one song by the Joggers, “White Madam” is it.

Despite my zeal over how great this disc is, there are a few tunes that don’t really do much for me aside from giving me the feeling of treading water.  “We’ve Been Talked Down”, which follows the excellent “Ziggurat Traffic”, sounds a little bleak during the verses.  The chorus does carry on nicely but the droning vocals by Whitesides and the band doesn’t give that much to latch onto.  “Yawning Brahmins” is probably the only other track that doesn’t thrill me due to its whiny chorus that whines on for too long.  This track, more than some of the previous ones mentioned, resembles a lot of what early Minus the Bear sounded like.  Unfortunately, it’s not a sound that works well with the vocals used on this tune.

The Joggers can be heard on MySpace, though there aren’t many songs there.  Last.fm might be a better listening resource to get more music to experience, but one could also read up on the Joggers at their blog.

What I really appreciate about the Joggers is that every song seems to hold my interest.  Although there are points at which I could use a switch from Whitesides’ vocals I think the musicianship and composition choices are excellent.  If you find yourself listening to the Joggers and wish to find some more material from them like me, then know that you are nearly completely hosed.  The group did put out a record before this one, but they haven’t released an album since this one in 2005.  Gahh!  Well, hope for the best that the Joggers aren’t through with their exercise regimens and keep an eye out for any new updates on their blog.  Hmmm … maybe if I bestow upon them a Golden Dollar for their fine work they will consider another round of rock ‘n roll.

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