One thing that seems to be common when I type these reviews is the state of local music. While musicians in this town are playing a wide variety of music they face a wall of indifference from people so convinced that there’s nothing good that comes out of Columbia that they never even bother to check out any local artists to see whether they might be wrong or not. Thankfully not everyone in this town is like that; thus creating a community that, while underground in many ways, has a lot to offer not live in terms of live shows but on disc as well. One disc that piqued my interest lately was the second CD from The Hanukkah Jones Band.
On their latest disc Jon Heller and company offer up six songs that blend power pop hooks with some punk and hard rock attitude. It kicks off with “Hey Padme,” a tale of a dead relationship within a discussion of Star Wars prequels that seems obtuse lyrically but is carried by raw chords and a tasty guitar solo. Along the way, the songs are rockin’ tales regarding introspection, dying, love, life et al delivered with tight rhythms and saturated guitar tones. All the while, Heller’s lyrics carry a mix between pop culture and intellectual thoughts, creating songs that stand apart in many ways from run of the mill pop-punk or indie rock.
There are a number of changes since HJB’s debut CD Rodent Rage both in lineup (Heller is the only member who played on both discs) and soundwise. A slightly slicker production actually highlights the songs and helps the guitar tones stand out in the mix. However, the sonic changes aren’t so much a change in direction as a progression in the band’s aural vision, moving it forward in the process.
The Hanukkah Jones Band aren’t the hipster flavor of the month. However, if you want some melodic straight from the heart rock that’s melodic but also makes you think at times, their new disc is definitely one you should check out,