Posted by:on December 21st, 2004
Jackass: Plastic Jesus
Label: BYO Records
Release Date: 3/3/04
Review Date: 12/21/04
There’s a history of country-influenced punk and punk-influenced country that stretches back to bands like the Rank and File, Lazy Cowgirls, The Knitters, Violent Femmes, Lone Justice, Jason and the Scorchers, and Gun Club, to name a few. More recently you have the so-called “alt-country” bands and bands like the Old 97’s (and I mean old Old 97’s,). If you feel disenfranchised by the Old 97’s currently bland output then Jackass (The Band) is for you. First off, let’s get over the unfortunate choice of names. The tour dates and band bio would suggest that the band formed well after the MTV phenomenon of the same name, so I can’t imagine why they would wage the uphill battle in name recognition. Come on guys, it’s time for a new name. It doesn’t serve you well that you have to add “the band” after every time your name is mentioned, and there will always be guilt by association. They tend to tack on the words “Hardcore” “Country”, and “Honky Tonk” wherever you see their name. If the boys in Jackass are guilty of only one thing (aside from drummer problems, and a bad name) it is that sometimes they try too hard to be “country” and come off a little forced. Sometimes it’s too easy to play to the stereotype, but I guess that’s why it called a stereotype.
That’s enough of that. Jackass hails from southern California and features original members of Bad Religion and Ill Repute. The music is stripped down but powerful. Jackass (the band) definitely has a sense of humor but they are not to be confused with the more jokey approach of a band like Southern Culture on the Skids. On stage they sport an acoustic guitar, a simple drum kit, and what looks like a sturdy oversized acoustic bass that is called an “guitarr√≥n” according to the web site. They are listed as having an electric guitar too, but I can’t remember if they had one at the gig I saw. I was ready to dismiss the band purely on the name, but the music dragged me into the room. Jackass (the band – sorry) is an unlikely looking group with no appearance of pretension. Their music was infectious and the performance was spirited and fun. I’d take them over Hank III anyday.
Plastic Jesus is their first full length release and clocks in at almost 45 minutes. It starts off with a bang and a clever verse that is sure to get them lots of controversy, fans and enemies. “Darlin’, you put the ‘Cunt’ in ’Country’.” Despite the fact that you can’t listen to the song with your mom in the room, it doesn’t sink to the level of locker room humor and is actually quite endearing. The vocals on Plastic Jesus have just enough unpolished edge, and the hooks and choruses are catchy. Plastic Jesus satisfies the closet Clint Eastwood in every rocker. And like the Dickies before them, they have some interesting tastes in cover choices, namely Madonna’s “Music” and the Backstreet Boys “I Want it That Way.” I swear to you that I couldn’t tell you who performed the originals when I heard the Jackass (the band – last time I swear) versions. I only knew that I had heard them before. No really. In any case, they are both well done and enjoyable, as are most songs on Plastic Jesus. About mid way through the album the songs start to run together. The title track is one case where they start to sound like they are trying too hard to be authentic.
Plastic Jesus has some amusing cover art that features Jesus and the Devil as Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. What’s more fun than that? Jackass’ (restraint) and Plastic Jesus are definitely worth checking out. They also have a debut EP on trigger Happy titled Tastes like Chicken but all of the tracks are listed on Plastic Jesus and it’s not clear whether they are different versions or not.
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