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Cap'n Jazz

During its brief existence (1990-1995), Chicago's Cap'n Jazz was a fairly popular band, but they gained many more fans when Jade Tree posthumously released Analphabetapolothology in 1998. The double CD contains the band's ponderously titled, long out of print, and impossible to find album Burritos, inspiration point, fork balloon sports, cards in the spokes, automatic biographies, kites, kung fu, trophies, banana peels we've slipped on and egg shells we've tippy toed over -- originally released on Man with Gun records in 1995 -- as well as live, unreleased, and compilation tracks. For many emo and indie rock fans, this release was their first exposure to the band that spawned The Promise Ring and Joan of Arc. For longtime Cap'n Jazz fans, it was a chance to hear a bunch of previously unavailable material as well as to revel in the powerful brilliance of the band's only full-length album.

The featured track, "Little League," originally appeared on Burritos.... The song swells up out of nowhere and hits the ground running, churning up everything in its path. Tim Kinsella's hoarse, impassioned vocals blend seamlessly with the manic energy of the music. Kinsella has always imbued a scat-like free association quality to his lyrics, stringing words together so that they become as much a part of the rhythm and melody of the song as the bass and guitar. "Little League" is a shining example of the way Cap'n Jazz could switch from hypnotic, melodic indie rock to scathing hardcore in an instant without alienating listeners or losing track of their direction.

Although they were a young and relatively inexperienced band, Cap'n Jazz set the stage for countless Midwestern-and-beyond emo bands who sought to capture the band's intense combination of heavy hardcore, infectious pop, and earnest, pained vocals. Many of them are still trying, chasing after the shadow of a band who's been gone since 1995.