This band is more like a laid-back Against Me! than even I would care to admit. Where Against Me! is more political, Just a Fire tends to experiment a greater deal with general sound, moving from electricjazzfunk in “Hot Export” to a slowed down tempo in “Graduation”. Everything is here for the amateur listener to say “Well, there is not a real tie to any genre, any general sound, and I can’t like these kids”, but Just A Fire’s commitment to create enjoyable music means that whatever sound will get them that enjoyment, they will use. Just A Fire are true anarchists in the sense that they just don’t see or care about the prescribed structures of songs, and really just construct an album with a quality I haven’t heard since The Police’s “Synchroncity”. Yes kids, this album is simply that good. In the aforementioned “Graduation” and the following “Snake in that Bush”, Fred’s vocal timbre and quality is eerily similar to Sting.
Just A Fire is a solid act, as well. Too many bands nowadays would rather just stand behind one major member, most often the singer, and put out sub-par music that is political or has a stance that little kids will buy for that purpose. I mean, look at the rapper from The Transplants or even Justin Sane from Anti-Flag; they both are overly loud and espouse certain views, just to cover up the fact that most of the music their backing bands put out is absolute garbage. Each member of Just A Fire gets their time to shine – every riff, drum beat, bass line, and even vocal flourish has a larger part in the scheme of each song. And, coming from a bassist’s view, Fred comes through yet again with bass lines that rise and fall, keep a time signature and yet add lushness to the track, as well as Jaco Pastorius or Matt Freeman.
As a result, “Light Up” is probably the most solid debut release I’ve heard in the last few years, even beating out my loved The Charlestons’ disc or even that first Red Hot Valentines CD. I will be definitely checking up on this band until their sophomore effort comes out; I really wonder if they can keep up this unmitigated anarchy, the ska, the punk, the jazz, the funk, and the synth (High on Illusion), on their next disc. Here’s hoping!
Top Tracks : “Hot Export”, “Graduation”
Just A Fire – Light Up / 9 Songs / 2003 Asian Man records / http://www.asianmanrecords.com/bands/jus.html / http://www.asianmanrecords.com / Reviewed 24 December 2003 / Released 06 October 2003