On its last album, 2006’s No Jonx Turn Red, The Jonx built upon the punk-meets-math rock foundation it started on its early EPs. Never a band to bow to trends, its latest release further expands the group’s sound, making for more accessible songs that don’t compromise its stripped-down indie aesthetic. Album opener “The Past Is All You Get” hints at the smarter SST-based punk of the mid- to late 80s, with a heavy basslines and choppy vocals. Bassist/vocalist Trey Lavigne does his best Jim Ward impression on the Sparta-esque “I’m Getting Really Good At Tetris”–which includes a hilarious take on the USMC’s Rifleman’s Creed–and Stu Smith’s guitar work is energetic and engaging. It’s some of the band’s best work to date, and the song also helps to showcase Daniel Mee’s frenetic drumming that is so prevalent in the band’s live sets.
“Hyphen Machine” is Herds‘ most straight-ahead punk tune, but it’s the 10-plus minute instrumental “Highway At Night” that best shows the band’s range and musicianship. It builds slowly, into a solid melodic jam–very similar to some of the better post-rock bands–and hits its peak at a drawn-out wall of thrash. It’s one of those songs that listeners will immediately want to hear again.
Long-time fans will notice a slight shift in the songs on Vocabularian Herds–while overall not as raw as earlier albums, the songs still never feel reined in. Instead, they show a band that pushes its boundaries to produce more mature songs on its own terms.
Visit The Jonx online at www.thejonx.org.