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Music Review: Jane’s Addiction – The Great Escape Artist

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A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, a renegade army of nouveau punk bands gathered for a rock and roll celebration to bid a fond farewell to their leading crew, namely Jane’s Addiction. Jane’s Addiction has been resurrected and broken up a few times since that monumental Lollapalooza tour in 1991, but now they’re back (minus Eric Avery, the band’s founding bass player) and their fourth studio album, The Great Escape Artist, has all the energy, grit, and punk rock soul that is sorely lacking in today’s so-called “pop punk” scene.

The Great Escape Artist includes 10 tracks: “Underground,” “End to the Lies,” Curiosity Kills,” the stellar single “Irresistible Force,” “I’ll Hit You Back,” “TwistedThe Great Escape ArtistTales,” “Ultimate Reason,” “Splash A Little Water On It,” “Broken People,” and “Words Right Out of My Mouth.” What do they all have in common? Well, Farrell’s vox tracks are consistently ghostly, haunting, and intense. Every track is driven by Dave Navarro’s guitar prowess. Stephen Perkins’ beats are heavy, and no matter who it is behind the bass, the low end is ambient, heavy, and entrancing.

“Underground” reintroduces its audience to Jane’s dirty cosmic sound. It’s a heart bumping romp that piques with Navarro’s burning solo.

“End to the Lies” is rumored to be the band’s response to comments made by former bassist Avery in an interview he gave after leaving the band. Navarro’s stuttering guitar lick at the one minute mark spits in the eye of bands for whom the label “Pop Punk” will only ever be half right.

“Irresistible Force” is a true testament to the band’s maturity in concept and in composition. As Farrell waxes metaphysical about the origins of the universe, a smoking bass track carries Perkins’ cosmic beats, and once again Navarro’s solo drives the song to a climactic resolution.

“I’ll Hit You Back” is full of subtext and soul. The track exudes depth with apologetic lyrics and, as Farrell calls out to “the better man,” the allusion to Pearl Jam’s “Daughter” is hard to ignore.

The album takes a mellow turn in “Twisted Tales” but not for long. “Ultimate Reason” opens with a kitschy lyric and acoustic sound, only to burst into a rockn’ track. The last track, “Words Right Out Of My Mouth,” kisses the crowd good-bye with yet another angry, bouncy, punky, anthem.

The Great Escape Artist is sure to satisfy all those impatient Jane’s Addiction fans who have suffered through the recent degradation of the punk genre. What is more, The Great Escape Artist is sure to find fans among the younger audience who, hopefully, are starting to see through the three-chord, eyeliner, pseudo-punk all-stars dominating the current scene. And for those of us who thought altrock was dead, The Great Escape Artist is cause for us to scream out, “FINALLY SOME REAL F$#KING PUNK MUSIC!” Thank you, Jane’s Addiction, and welcome back.

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About JDPineCoffin

  • http://cinemasentries.com El Bicho

    Are you using some different meaning of “punk”? Because it doesn’t sound like the Jane’s I have followed since 1988 or the new songs I have heard off this album.

    Also I went to Lolla in’91 (in this galaxy), and was wondering what “nouveau punk bands [were] gathered”?

  • http://jdpinecoffin.blogspot.com/ JDPineCoffin

    punk [puhngk] = a style or movement characterized by the adoption of aggressively unconventional and often bizarre or shocking clothing, hairstyles, makeup, etc., and the defiance of social norms of behavior, usually associated with punk rock musicians and fans. (from Dictionary.com)

    Sounds like the Jane’s Addiction I’ve always known and loved.

    As for punk bands on the ’91 Lollapalooza line-up: Siouxsie and the Banshees, Rollins Band, Butthole Surfers.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    Jane’s blends many genres into their sound, and that definition doesn’t describe the music. It describes a look, which is so generic KISS, Marilyn Manson, and Slipknot could fall under it, and they aren’t punk bands either.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    If Jane’s Addiction are a punk group, I’m a lesbian!

    The definition quoted in #2 is totally generic and could fit almost any youth movement of the last 50 years so is utterly useless.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    You’re a lesbian trapped in a man’s body?

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    If Jane’s Addiction are punks I am.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Are you feeling lucky? :-)

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Don’t quite get what you mean but the literal answer is yes. I’ve had some terrible bad luck over the years but generally always had fairly good luck, although I’ve yet to win the lottery.

    I’m also reminded of a remark attributed to the slutty Tiger Woods who, in response to remarks that he was a very lucky golf player apparently responded that he practised a lot and the more he practised, the luckier he got…

  • http://jdpinecoffin.blogspot.com/ JDPineCoffin

    Well guy’s let me say this about this little punk controversy: I remember the 1990s well and back then Jane’s Addiction was considered punk, not just punk, punk divinity! They may not have sounded like the Sex Pistols, and they didn’t sound like NOFX, that didn’t mean they weren’t punk.

    Perhaps I would be more convinced that my friends in the 1990s and I have miss categorized Jane’s Addiction if you were to tell me why it is you think that Janes is not punk? Go ahead, criticize my boiler plate definition all you want, but I don’t see anyone offering a more precise one. The analogies aren’t convincing either; how do I know you’re not a lesbian? Or a punk? Or a 12 foot Amazonian, for that matter?

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Punk was a movement that started almost a generation earlier and anyone who thought of his or her self as a punk in the 90s was basically either utterly tragic or a complete dickhead.

    If you read their Wikipedia entry, the word punk doesn’t appear at all whilst on Spotify it says their music was a “hybrid of rock music: metal with strain of punk, folk and jazz”.

    Finally, you only have to actually listen to them to perceive that they are about as “punk” as Green Day, although a lot more interesting of course ;-)

    As to me, yes, of course, I am a 12 foot Amazonian punk lesbian :-p

  • zingzing

    i would have to say that jane’s fits in more with the spirit of punk than the sound of punk music. then again, other than the hardcore leftovers and a few piddling og punks that hadn’t yet died, there wasn’t much real “punk” to be found after the mid-80s.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Labels change, you know. For example, my dad used to get quite upset when DJs would refer to a pop song as “rock ‘n’ roll”, since in his mind that term referred to a very specific type of music played in the mid to late 50s and early 60s by the likes of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and the Beatles.

    Nowadays the usage of the term is vastly more broad, and I’ve heard it used to describe almost any type of pop music.

    Then there’s what nowadays is called “R&B”, a genre that is actually derived from soul and Motown and has very little to do with the classic rhythm and blues played by B.B. King, J.J. Cale and other luminaries.

    In that context I don’t see why there should be any objection to calling Jane’s Addiction a punk band, although “punk” did originally refer to a very intense and aggressive type of music that was itself a manifestation of a particular social movement, and didn’t just mean dying your hair green, cranking up the amps and screaming.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I don’t agree with this trend towards definition revisionism. It nauseates me every time a member of some lame, limp vocal group talks about being in a band.

    If words don’t have clear meanings, Doc, then I’m gonna start calling you a Yank!

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    PS: Your dad was right!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @13

    Touche!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    You must have been talking to my brother, Chris. He already calls me a Yank.

    Does the word “revisionism” have a clear meaning? :-)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Here’s a picture. There are words, and then are their meanings which kind of trail along as though the shadows of words, not exactly the words themselves yet somehow inseparable. On this picture, “meanings” acquire a metaphysical quality apart from the words themselves, something you can only intuit but can’t really touch.

    What’s the meaning of a demonstrative pronoun such as “this”? Surely, it must be the object that’s pointed to. This procedure leads to ostensive definition of meaning and the correspondence/representational theory of truth. Meanings are what the words point to, and the structure of reality is represented by the logical structure of the proposition. (Wittgenstein, Tractatus

    But as Wittgenstein later pointed out, “meaning is use.”

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Doc: Sure, some times some terms need revising as their meaning becomes clearer, but other times it is a snide, weasely practice designed only to make the beneficiary look better or, in the music examples above, steal credibility.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “faking it” is another term