Music

The Joggers: With a Cape and a Cane

Justin Cober-Lake

The latest from the Joggers stands as the epitome of indie, which somehow renders it inessential.


The Joggers

With a Cape and a Cane

Label: Star Time
US Release Date: 2005-09-27
UK Release Date: Available as import
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

Thousands of years of indie-rock have led to this moment: the Joggers' new album With a Cape and a Cane. The band members may or may not have studied their ancestors, but this album suggests that if they aren't using historical knowledge to artistic effect, then they're the product of a sort of institutional memory (possibly disproving the proof of such a thing's non-existence). The band has lo-fi guitar rock with slightly oblique but expressive lyrics down to a tee. They do it just right, which is why Cape remains simultaneously the epitome of and an inessential part of the group's genre.

While Stephen Malkmus fans might file this under the Pavement heading in their CD collections, the Joggers aren't entirely derivative. "Ziggurat Traffic" begins with a pleasant, Eastern guitar part, which could set the group for the failure of exoticism or appropriation, but they work it well, using unlikely intervals to set the tone of the song. The melody lines and guitar lend the sense of unpredictability to the track, which matches its lyrics of loss and chaos.

But more often, the Joggers rely on the indie formula. "Horny Ghost" -- which has unfortunately little to do with spectral libido -- could have been written by any number of small-label bands that pass through your town (often phantom-like, if your local coverage is like mine). The song isn't bad, even if it pales to any number of Casper tracks from the Unicorns. In fact, it's kind of catchy and well-done. You just don't need to go to the Joggers to hear it. The group's so emblematic of a certain lineage that they simply disappear into it.

"Wicked Light Sleeper" splits the difference between the group's innovative and derivative sides. It opens with a groove that could have come from a Franz Ferdinand demo -- nice, dance-y hook, but with no oomph. The bassline guides the tune, but it needs a bigger tone for this type of song. The Joggers pick themselves up, though, by weaving in unusual guitar lines (insert "angular" or "jagged" as you please). As the song's cohesion disintegrates among scattered vocals and conflicting guitar, it's intrigue factor rises considerably. The song ends on a high note, but hitting repeat sends you back to disappointment. It's as if the group kept getting ideas as they went, adding them as they thought of them, but not to give the song any direction or statement.

Although the lyrics aren't always successful, the Joggers do avoid cliches like the plague, and other less-cited nuisances. "Night of the Horsepills" offers a particularly memorable line: "I'll play the listing doctor, righted by the rube". Aurally, it's a treat, rhythmically well-constructed and utilizing the consonance of the "t" sound and the alliteration in the second half. The sentence employs a metaphor within a metaphor (the narrator as doctor as ship), which could sink it the works, if it weren't so pleasing. The song builds from that line, with references to people as deer, nurses, and more, until you finally realizing the levels of acting (professionally and emotionally) being discussed here. The singer's declaration that he'll return "with a cape and a cane, and [his] frail restraints" stands as artistic bravado knowingly disguising internal hurt, and it marks the album's most moving moment.

This kind of artistry occurs on occasion on this disc, but not frequently enough to save it from the music that could have come from a computer program designed to spit out the definition of indie. The Joggers do their thing very well, but it too often turns into camoflauge, as if the artistic presentation is more a study in form than a revelation. Mayve for the next album, they'll drop the cape and give us something to look at.

5

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image