Originally known as James Cleaver Quintet (in spite of originally only sporting 4 members), this Experimental Hardcore/ Metal act from the seaside town of Eastbourne in East Sussex (South-East of England) was founded in 2006, but it wasn't until January 2010 that the band (then comprised of singer Jack Swagger, guitarist Maud E Licious, bassist Jimmy Diego and drummer Mackerel Skarrington – those being stage names, of course) released its debut EP Ten Stages Of A Make Up through the ondryland label.
As a result, they were hailed by some of the major media in Britain, with Kerrang! giving the EP 4 “K”'s, Rock Sound magazine giving it an 8/10 rating, and online zine ThrashHits.com giving it a perfect 6/6, giving the very apt description “...A shot of Hardcore Punk slammed into a pint full of Thrashing experimental chaos with melodies that leave you wanting more until inevitably, it knocks you on your arse...”! Info lacking, I am uncertain whether or what benefits the band reaped from getting those rave reviews, bt certai is that it got 'em a deal with London based Hassle Records (home of such great bands as 65daysofstatic, Alixisonfire, Alkaline Trio, Anti-Flag, August Burns Red, Cancer Bats, Rolo Tomassi, Senses Fail, Thrice, Turbowolf, We Are the Ocean, and some more), who released the band's debut full-length That Was then, This Was Now, in October 2011. The media were again ecstatic, Kerrang! listing the album at #9 in their Top 101 Albums Of 2011 after having given it 5 K's, Rock Sound rating it 9/10, Front magazine giving it a perfect 5/5, and even the BBC website hailing the band with the words, “...Bringing together the soulful Punk Rock of The Bronx, the kinetic spark of defunct cult heroes The Blood Brothers and the trend-bucking post-everything Hardcore of Refused, they're an outfit whose lifeblood seems to be pumping at an accelerated rate...What hasn't killed them has made them awesome...”! It helped the band on many an O2 stage throughout the UK, as well as onto several festivals, where the audiences went nutters over the offered treat that is the band's music!
Along the way (and I simply have no idea of when things actually happened) the band's line-up has been subjected to change. At least, if the old bassist and drummer do now nót operate under the different names of Michael and Paul respectively, than they have indeed been replaced. Also, the band has grown to an actual quintet, with Martin not only providing second guitar, but also keyboard and backing vocals (live, the band apparently also uses one Charlie to provide auxiliary percussion, additional noise, and extra keyboards where necessary – must be a great racket!). For their new album the band traveled all the way to Umea in Sweden, to record with the legendary Pelle Henrikson and Eskil Lovstrom (responsible, among other, for Refused's 1998 album The Shape Of Punk To Come).
The result is an album with a great variety, going from utterly chaotic (or so seeming, because underneath there's great melodies, albeit in counter-rhythm) and aggressive in the album's opening track “Ghosts Difuse” on the one hand, and a truly calm instrumental piano ballad (with only some sparse percussion and some bass – toward the end- as accompaniments) entitled “Aspidistra” on the other, with in between tracks in which the melodies are either more easily recognized (take the weirdly titled “iii”, or the two-part “No Kind Of Man” - parts are nót successive on the album though...real funny! And, by the way, both the first part of the latter song and “iii” have piano incorporated in 'em), or where complexity again takes over, with organ lines adding to the fray of the double guitar onslaught. For album closer “Ruin Age”, Maud also temporarily exchanges his guitar for some great tenor sax play. The relatively clean vocals are done in an upper range of the register, without for that matter going all too high (there's no screams see, not even in the more aggressive parts)!
For (quite) some audio by the band, surf to (http://) soundcloud.com/#thejcq. Besides songs already named, you'll also find this album's “Love's no Good”, “Resurrection Revenue”, and a 5-song sampler of which I dunno what it entails (the other songs are from the band's previous releases). The band also has a page at (www.) facebook.com/thejcq (where a couple of videos can be found) and (www.) myspace.com/thejcq (which I was unable to open). Withstanding the urge of going into breathtakingly long explanations of why I feel this is a must-have album for fans of louder progressively tinted music who don't mind a change of pace toward utter calmness, and even for lovers of Math Rock/ Metal, I'll just state that this band is an absolute find of the year for me, their album to become one of the top albums in my personal “Best Albums Of 2013” lists!