Thursday, January 26, 2012

JFA - Valley Of The Yakes lp

The first time I heard JFA was their Blatant Localism ep released in 1981. At that time, not knowing anything of the band, with the record title of Blatant Localism and the unrelentingly full speed ahead tempo of all but one song I was presumptuous with my initial evaluation. These guys are unabashed SoCal Nardcore skate punks, I thought. This record's gotta be on Mystic right?

Turns out I was a little off. JFA is full throttle hardcore and a bit more than unabashed skate punks. They are more skateboard uber alles or fuck you! Have no doubts about their feelings on this friends. The two sacred requisites to be a JFA band member were 1. You have to skate. and 2. You have to want to play fast. I think years later militant edge and vegan bands took their cue from predecessors like these. Secondly JFA isn't a Nardcore band. They aren't even from California and were not working with the Mystic record label. The only affiliation JFA has ever had with Mystic is one song on Mystic's '83 compilation lp We Got Power. The truth is they are from Phoenix, AZ and mostly released records on Placebo. For the more tedious bunch of you JFA is still active and pretty much all you could want to know can be found via their website.

Valley Of The Yakes picks up right where Blatant Localism dropped off. Releasing again on Placebo Records and outside of the noticeable difference in recording sound the song writing is so similar that you could swap songs from one record to the other and probably get away with it. Despite, I think Valley Of The Yakes songwriting is a tad more mature than their debut ep. Here less than 50% of the songs are under a minute. They obviously put some more thought and work into this release. Even so the lp is still hardcore at hill bombing speed. As much as I love fast as fuck, angry hardcore (as it should be) it is pretty easy to lose focus on full length records. Hardcore is way more compatible with the 7" format. It's tough for faster hardcore bands to grab your attention and keep it for the full course of an album. Throw this on while making a sandwich and it will fade to white noise after two songs for you. But wait just one second. Jodie Foster's Army circumvent that fault here by stepping out on a limb showing they have other interests than just ripping your face off and something I think is an accidental anomaly.

Outside of skating and playing as fast as possible JFA wants you to know they have a penchant for surf rock despite the dry desert land they hail from. They snap out two extremely well done cover songs that stick out like a sore thumb that is some how completely enjoyable.
The A side closes out with the recognizable Walk Don't Run by THE VENTURES. Early into side B they smack you upside the head once again going into Baja by THE ASTRONAUTS. Not only do these covers disrupt the album in a perfect way to keep your Attention Deficit Disorder ass in line they really shine for these Southwest punks. Killing three birds with one stone is quite the feat. You are still paying attention, JFA says they have broad horizons and the musicianship is pretty surprising here. Obviously they aren't limited to the assaulting three chord weapon of choice. As for that anomaly I mentioned, The second track on Valley Of The Yakes titled The Great Equalizer has me dumbfounded. It's a great song and, maybe it's my mid-western Detroit punk rearing, possibly my favorite song out of the album. This song is much meatier and angrier sounding than anything else they have written. Equalizer aligns closer to something an east coast band would have written. If you stand this song up alone I could easily see anybody pigeon holing as some pissed of shit from Boston. That could just be me, who knows? Download the bitch and make your own opinions.


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