On its new EP, The Jesus Rehab has grown into a bigger band, a feat accomplished by dropping most of its members. Now, to be a member of TJR, one must not only rock, but have the same last name as the other members. And not just in a Ramones kind of way. With these new requirements, The Jesus Rehab is now a two-man band.
This month, TJR revealed its new form with the release of Drunken Hillbilly Fight Bar, a collection of six straight-forward, stomping rock songs. This is the band’s first release since its full-length album The Highest Highs and Lowest Lows and the only difference between the two collections is everything.
The Highest Highs was a 45-minute rock opera, a concept album following a character based not loosely on TJR’s singer/guitarist Jared Cortese. The album was conceived and recorded over several years, documenting a full range of emotions and experimenting with a wide spectrum of rock music in the pop format. It had an intro and outro and, while beautiful, required the listener’s patience during its swells and falls.
Drunken Hillbilly Fight Bar is as different a record they could make while still playing under the same band name. Instead of gradual builds, the EP charges out of the gate on the rolling toms of drummer Dominic Cortese, Jared’s younger brother. For 6 tracks and 23 minutes, Fight Bar requires little patience. Fitting, since it was recorded in only a few weeks. It spans a range of genres, but it always rocks.
The EP starts with a countdown, not unlike one heard at a bar in the drunken moments before a new year begins. This leads into the track “Spaceships”, where Jared sings about a freckled girl from Baltimore. This girl happens to be his real-life muse and fiancée, Julia Massey, the singer of Seattle band Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount. (read about Jared and Julia’s story in “Seattle’s Sweethearts,” our featured ‘Stache Deep from March). “Spaceships” is a clunky sing-along, a warm-up for the better melodies and groovier drumming in the songs to come. Songs like “Carry You,” an homage to one of Jared’s other influences. In fact, “Carry You” may be the best Weezer song to come out since “The Sweater Song”.
Of all of the tracks on Drunken Hillbilly Fight Bar, the third track “Long Way to Fall” is the only song that could be at home on either of the band’s albums. The song opens with a beautiful guitar riff before Jared sings a haunting melody, once again slapping his heart on his sleeve, complemented perfectly by Dom’s tasteful snare-work.
After a quick interlude, TJR comes marching back with the album’s strongest track, “Night Terrors.” The song begins with trampling drums and anthemic lines like “We come like troubadours” which forms the image of an army of baristas, artists, and musicians following the brothers Cortese through the misty streets of Seattle on some important quest for a fantastic groove, which the band finds in the last minute of the song.
The EP ends with a bang, sacrificing the melody they are capable of for the attitude they’ve adopted. In the end, the album is an alt-punk/garage-rock medley, with the familiar fuzzy guitar tones of other popular two-pieces like Death From Above 1979 or The Kills. With songs from Drunken Hillbilly Fight Bar in its pocket, The Jesus Rehab will look at home playing in front of a packed crowd determined to dance, or alone in the dark corner of a whisky-dive bar with a busted PA. And in either situation, The Jesus Rehab will sing and stomp until there’s nothing left but two brothers having a good time as Seattle’s most exclusive club.
The Jesus Rehab – Drunken Hillbilly FIght Bar tracklist:
- “Carry You”
- “Long Way to Fall”
- “E Minor Sonatina”
- “Night Terrors”