Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Jinx Lennon

  • Live at the Spirit Store [Septic Tiger, 2000] **
  • Know Your Station Gouger Nation!!! [Septic Tiger, 2006] A
  • Trauma Themes Idiot Times [Septic Tiger, 2009] A-
  • National Cancer Strategy [Septic Tiger, 2010] ***
  • 30 Beacons of Light for a Land Full of Spite, Thugs, Drug Slugs, and Energy Vampires [Septic Tiger, 2015] A-
  • Past Pupil Stay Sane [Septic Tiger, 2016] A-
  • Magic Bullets of Madness to Uplift the Grief Magnets [Septic Tiger, 2016] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Live at the Spirit Store [Septic Tiger, 2000]
Early on, Dundalk raver fuses "raw"--nay, "cotton field"--songs with standup bits ("So Frightened," "Brothers Gonna Work It Out," "Heavy Music for the Hard Working Man") **

Know Your Station Gouger Nation!!! [Septic Tiger, 2006]
Punk poet has never been much of a job description. But on the four albums I've heard, Lennon always makes something of it, and on this 2006 entry he makes everything of it. Recorded when the Celtic Tiger had gotten so mangy anybody who could stand Lennon at all knew he'd seen what was coming, he's full of gleeful scorn whether advising fellow male-pattern baldness sufferers to live with their fate or going off about home invasions again. For 20 tracks he rants on, sometimes tunefully and always unstoppably. He gets everything you'd hope from titles like "New Land of Syringes" and "Nigerians (Stop Giving Out About)." The matched hymns "You Must Forgive the Cnts" and "You Are No Scumbag" showcase his spiritual side, and "S.U.F.Y. Hospitals" borrows a hook from "Looking for the Perfect Beat." All he wants is to keep us out of the circle of shit and help make a better world for Ireland's bruised bananas. A

Trauma Themes Idiot Times [Septic Tiger, 2009]
Worried about bumming out fans you'd think were used to his moods by 2009, Lennon has old helpmeet Paula Flynn echo him sweetly on most of these songs and leaves room for a horn section a lot mellower than he is. But he also makes sure his punky-rootsy band drives the trauma themes on, and although they get winded after an opening sprint, his arsenal of vocables doesn't quit. On the merry "Folk Music for the Midlands," the energy sustains even when Lennon and Flynn are bidding each other a resigned and lyrical farewell. "I must keep it awkward and real," Lennon insists on the long track of more or less that title that precedes an even longer finale. And that goes as well when he's advising you to stick a knife in a burglar's eye. A-

National Cancer Strategy [Septic Tiger, 2010]
More songs about pathology and revenge ("Fight Diabetes," "If You Change Your Accent for the City People," "Pink Scrunched Up Thing") ***

30 Beacons of Light for a Land Full of Spite, Thugs, Drug Slugs, and Energy Vampires [Septic Tiger, 2015]
Goody, a new Jinx album, said I to myself when the Dylan-chord rap-raver from Dundalk, County Louth, handed me one of these at a house party that was the only Gotham stop on a very brief US tour. And it is--copyright 2015. Problem is, the booklet says "Songs written Jinx Lennon copyright 2002." In other words, more Celtic Tiger jeremiads in which Lennon mocks a prosperity that's leaving everyone he knows behind. Maybe he wasn't yet economist enough to understand how its banking and real estate scams would soon blow up in the nation's face. But he was scold enough to see how fucked up things were anyway. Highlights among these 30 stabs at enlightenment in 60 minutes include: the health-conscious "Don't Lose a Stone for Xmas," the jerry-built "Houses Everywhere," the disquieting "Balaclava Boys," the lulling "You Shouldn't Try to Fuck Someones Head Up," "Next Slow Song You Hear May Leave You Pregnant" with its flavored condom, "550 Euros" with its princess pram. But that's just a sampling--most of them have a point. I await the house party number about the fireman versus the samurai sword. A-

Past Pupil Stay Sane [Septic Tiger, 2016]
Born in 1964 sez Google though he seems younger, rocker-rapper Lennon has been musically active since around 2000, with a Wikipedia stub, a sketchy website, and six plus two albums to show for it. Though live he sometimes favors acoustic guitar, on this hour-long collection he yells, recites, talks, chants, murmurs, and/or sings 23 songs over not just guitar but drum-sounding "beats," bass, electronics, female softening, and quite often trumpet. Lennon's Dundalk hometown is up near the troubled border in his nation's northeast corner, but that's in the past--today's Ireland is embattled enough to keep him busy. Subjects include "Cough Medicine," "70,000 New Jobs," "Don't Let the Phone Calls Annoy You," a "Chinaman in Dundalk Town," and a "Heart Attack in Spain" ("Waiter / Get the defibulator / What do you mean youdon't know where it is sir?"). In "Learn How to Talk to Women," he advises, "Listen to them, be interested." And in "Fireman Meets Samurai Sword" firemen advise, "Let's get out of here alive at the end of each day"--because, like the rapper-rocker sez to the recovering crack addict, "Every Day Above Ground Is a Good Day." A-

Magic Bullets of Madness to Uplift the Grief Magnets [Septic Tiger, 2016]
There's a musical consistency to this band record, cut with two Liverpudlians from Clinic just across the Irish Sea, that's missing from its companion release. Sung, talked, or sung-talked, Lennon's enunciated vocals turn his brogue, if that's what it even is, into lingua franca, and electronic though the band is, its music is rock, not techno or electropop. Lennon is the rare ranter in whom rage coexists with empathy and alienation with a well-observed life. Examples include "Piranhas of Xmas," in which layaway gifts turn into nightmares, and an equally sad one in the voice of a "10 O'Clock T Break Bollix": "Making smart remarks about people passing by cos I haven't got self-esteem." A-

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