You've just gotta love self-produced, self-promoted music. When a band takes it upon themselves to do all the work that record labels do, as well as taking on the financial responsibility for the success of an album, you can believe that they have some great deal of faith in the music they are making.
Nowhere is this more apparent than on South Bound, the debut album from the Canadian band Jaww. It's an aggressive, smart, ambitious album with more emotion on each track than most bands put on a whole disc.
Jaww has accomplished something truly noteworthy here: in the relatively small space of a single album, they have created a sound that is uniquely and unmistakably their own. The strangely dissonant, oddly-tuned strings, the bombastic rhythm section and the incredibly resilient vocals of Doug McLarty combine to create a sound that is obviously them from the first note. Countless bands with dozens of albums under their belts can't make this claim.
Although there's not a terrible variety in the tempo and mood of the songs - they're all pretty much equally fast, mean, and crunching - the songs are consistent in their tight composition and capable delivery. Lyrically, many of the tracks seem to deal with frustration with religion - and who can't relate to that?
Some of the great moments on South Bound include "Smokescreen" with its ultra-fast opening and catchy chorus; "Sacrifice", which features some very original rhythm changes; and the ending to "Numb", the final track. After a false ending and a minute of silence, we're treated to an unnamed, very original instrumental bit with stacatto starts and stops aplenty.
Jaww is an example of the purity of music; living, breathing proof that the best music doesn't appear on MTV or on bigtime movie soundtracks. Rather, it's very likely to be found in your own city.
You can order a copy of South Bound directly from Doug for $10. Write to him at:
Jaww c/o Doug McLarty
1576 Queen St. W.
Toronto, Ont. Canada M6R 1A6