The innocuous brand of almost-rock, almost-punk music is reminiscent of Lit and early American HiFi, albeit with a little bit of Creed and Nickelback (especially in the vocals) thrown in. The bad thing about J4 is that many of their tracks do not provide listeners with much innovation; tracks like “Walk Away” might be euphonic as hell, but there is not a differing set of time signatures or a move away from the anti-septic pop sound. Essentially, J4 is the next step beyond a frat-rock band; the style of music is what one would expect from a live band playing the frat circuit, and only derivates from frat-rock once, because there are no cover tracks. The phrase “frat-rock” is not intended as an insult, but rather a descriptor; a track like “Lonely” mixes together the reggae of Sublime, the rock of SR-71 and Fuel, and even the odd-ball sound of Harvey Danger and Rusted Root.
Someof the progressions on “Feeling Normal” are impressive, especially those during the tight “Almost Gone”. With a bass line worthy of Geddy Lee and super-sonic vocals, J4 really strike it big with this track. Each track on “Feeling Normal” is created with the care that is consistent with a band that has been asked to show up at Warped Tour the last few years. The radio-friendly nature of the band should not turn anyone off; it may not be the haute couture of more technical individuals like Frank Zappa, but it does make people feel good. Another interesting thing about J4 is the fact that “Feeling Normal” has a lack (or largely lacks) slower-tempo songs. This really gives credence to the idea that the band is out of the frat-rock phenomenon; the music on “Feeling Normal” is music that could conceivably keep a party going, instead of moping people out.
Another strong point about “Feeling Normal” is its short length; the small amount of tracks only fill up thirty-three minutes, and really do not give listeners much of an opportunity to question the band’s sound. There is nothing new really broached by the music on “Feeling Normal”, but if an individual wants a new, “feel-good” disc for their collection, I can’t do any better than prescribing J4. Here’s to looking for new material from J4 in the near future (I would especially think that a live disc would be the best in showcasing the band’s impressive sound).
Top Tracks: Wasting, Lonely
J4 – Feeling Normal / 2005 Lol Records / 9 Tracks / http://www.myspace.com/J4 / http://www.lolrecords.com / Reviewed 05 July 2005