J Church - The Horror of Life (Cover Artwork)

J Church

J Church: The Horror of LifeThe Horror of Life (2007)
No Idea Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: SloaneDaleySloaneDaley
(others by this writer | submit your own)

At this stage in the game it is safe to say J Church is the most prolific band to spawn from the late `80s East Bay / Lookout! Records scene *cough* MTX release something new *cough*, but being prolific only gets you so far. Lance Hahn and Co. don't just rest on their laurels putting out a bunch of .
iTunes StoreAmazon

At this stage in the game it is safe to say J Church is the most prolific band to spawn from the late `80s East Bay / Lookout! Records scene *cough* MTX release something new *cough*, but being prolific only gets you so far. Lance Hahn and Co. don't just rest on their laurels putting out a bunch of identical records one after the other though, as with The Horror of Life they prove that on their seventh full-length release they are still able to challenge contemporary notions about what it is to make a punk a record.

The album opens up with the squealing guitar line of "Vampire Girl Prefers Me Alive," and I must say it reminds me a lot of how the Draft opened up their recent full-length with "New Eyes Open." From what I gather it is a song about an intimate female relation to one of the band members. I know what you're thinking (because I'm Patrick Stuart), "Wow, a pop-punk band writes a song about a girl" and yes, the album does open and close on mid-tempo rockers about relationships but there is more to it. Now a majority of bands under the umbrella tree that is punk tend to paint females in rather static views of "You broke my heart, die you Benedict Arnold!" or "When you rub it there that feels good, bebe," but for J Church this is not the case. The roles of females in these songs are very much fluid and complex. Take for example the adventures of the quirky bloodthirsty protagonist Sarah over the groovy bassline (Ben Snakepit anyone?) in "Vampire Girl Prefers Me Alive" or the characters coming to grips with a loveless relationship in "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love."

Being a fiercely independent band they still wear their politics on their sleeve just as proudly as they do their hearts. "If I Have to Dance Then I Don't Want Your Revolution" is a perfect example of this. If one wanted to write a song about sellouts all you'd have to do is find the latest article on Against Me! and paste together strings of message board dialogue. Instead, J Church write a personal and passionate song about the commodification and co-opting of the ideals they cherish by corrupt individuals, with lines like, "What I thought was sad confusion was just counter-revolution. Buy the shirt. Buy the fad. Buy the full-page glossy ad. Selling out, buying in. Dance, you fool. Stupid grin. The revolutionary ideals, they're happy to steal and turn into gimmicks for post-modern cynics." Dance, dance indeed.

Equally impressive to what the band has to say is how they go about saying it. The band provides a veritable cornucopia of styles such as: down-home acoustics ("The World's Tiniest Violin"); classic hardcore punk ("New Ho Chi Minh City"); noisy post-hardcore ("Unrequited"); and riff-centric pop ("Cosmonaut"). For a band that releases so many splits and singles there is an uncanny cohesiveness to all that is going on in the record. This is in part, I believe, to Lance Hahn being an astute observer of history, pop culture and music he just knows will work. Take for instance "Eric Dolphy," about the jazz musician of the same name who died in Germany of complications with diabetes because doctors assumed that since he was a jazz musician he was overdosing on drugs; how many punk bands would write songs about that? Shades of the nerdy attention to detail show up in other aspects of the album as well, such as the nod to the Pixies in the back-up wails of "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love."

The album's catchiness gives it an immediacy, its little idiosyncrasies encouraging closer examination and its variety giving it longevity. Few bands ever labeled pop-punk are worthy of the moniker but J Church has been able to do so much within the sub-genre while maintaining the likeability of pop and the respectability of punk to truly require being labeled as such. Front-person (person-holes?), Lance Hahn has always proved to be a man with a lot of ideas but with The Horror of Life, just maybe he has finally been able to fully articulate them.

Stream The horror of Life at J Church's Punknews Profile Page


People who liked this also liked:
Dear Landlord - Dream HomesJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyJ Church / Minority Blues Band - Split [7 inch]Fugazi - Repeater + 3 SongsHot Water Music - Forever and CountingOperation Ivy - Operation IvyHot Water Music - CautionCursive - The Ugly OrganDillinger Four - Midwestern Songs of the Americas7 Seconds - Take It Back, Take It On, Take It Over!

Please login or register to post comments.What are the benefits of having a Punknews.org account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on the stories that interest you
  • Rate music and bands and help shape the weekly top ten
  • Let Punknews.org use your ratings to help you find bands and albums you might like
  • Customize features on the site to get the news the way you want.
Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
SloaneDaley (October 22, 2007)

score is for Lance

Anonymous (May 14, 2007)

hahn is a vagina

Anonymous (May 13, 2007)

This album is a 6 at best. It's alright, but it's nothing special. A lot of the backing whoas are pretty bad.

Anonymous (May 13, 2007)


Anonymous (May 13, 2007)

I'll never forget when J Church tried to start on the members of Chopper (UK). Lance and co shit their load when the Chopper fellas refused to back and threatened them in return. Ignore what Wat Tyler said about the incident as he ass kisses J Church. The bully boys cacked their pants

Anonymous (May 13, 2007)

awful band

Lom is soft as shit too

Anonymous (May 12, 2007)

This album is super good. Ooh, and the other day found the Precision of Simulcra/The Map Preceeds the territory 10". That's a good record. But it doesn't have a few of the songs that the cd does. Oh well.
Oh, and I hope lance is doing alright with his kidneys and stuff.

SloaneDaley (May 12, 2007)

Ah dang, I was gonna review this. Glad to see someone did it.
This album is good, far better than their last one, and J Church is an amazing band, but I don't see them ever topping One Mississippi. That album is a masterpiece.

I have to agreeably disagree with you Scruffs, well I found Societ... to be better than One Mississippi

ozmanx (May 12, 2007)

Where have I been? After reading the review I headed to the stream section and found this band to be awesome. I need to do some catchup.

Scruffy (May 11, 2007)

Also, I can't read the phrase "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" as a song title without thinking of the Old 97s, who referenced the same short story years ago in "What We Talk About".

Scruffy (May 11, 2007)

Ah dang, I was gonna review this. Glad to see someone did it.
This album is good, far better than their last one, and J Church is an amazing band, but I don't see them ever topping One Mississippi. That album is a masterpiece.

Also, to anyone who is familiar with the band and is wondering which part of J Church's sound this album is most similar to, it sounds a TON like The Drama Of Alienation.

Anonymous (May 11, 2007)

Hey Feeding5000, it is alright to like more than one style of punk rock... just don't let your friends find out! And yes, this is the same Lance that does the UK peace punk band histories in MRR. Lance knows a lot about the anarchism, he just usually choses to sing about girls instead. I recommend that you check out the title track from Society Is A Carnivorous Flower. One day me and you can do a piece on J Church for MRR.

Anonymous (May 11, 2007)

lance a dick? i knew him back in the cringer days and he was always nice as hell. did something happen?

Anonymous (May 11, 2007)

the only negative thing about J Church I can see is Lance's voice isn't that strong but in terms of music and lyrics few touch them. the last full length was an 8. Most of their other full lengths around 7's I'd say. This in my opinion is by far their best album.

Also Feeding that was likely him, I know he has written for several zines.

- JD

baseball (May 11, 2007)

J Church has definitely been one of the most interesting bands in the punk/pop genre over the years

but there's always been something that hasn't grabbed me about the music, i like it but if i'm not in the right mood i can't get into it

i'd say this album is about as consistent as their other stuff...solid 7's

Anonymous (May 11, 2007)

Wait...isn't this Lance Hahn, the guy who wrote all the anarcho-punk stuff in MRR? If so, then I'll probably have to at least check this out. I mean, those two-part articles about Lost Cherees really made my month.

Anonymous (May 11, 2007)

This is really good. Anybody that focuses on spreading rumours about Lance, IS A DICK. Lets focus on the music shall we?

Anonymous (May 11, 2007)

go away , lance.

Anonymous (May 11, 2007)

too bad lance is a dick

Anonymous (May 11, 2007)

if you have heard other j church stuff you would know that lance keeps doing the same song w/ different vocals. same beat ....same riff. his ideas are all used up.

brown (May 11, 2007)

Score is for Snakepit

Enemy_Will (May 11, 2007)

The hidden track is great as well. It's called "too bad lance is a dick."

Anonymous (May 11, 2007)

These guys should be up their with TLA, Jawbreaker, Lifetime and D4 on terms of popularity. Seriously.

SloaneDaley (May 11, 2007)

make a punk a record......?

score is for me.

Anonymous (May 11, 2007)

i don't own any of their records, but every time i see the J church train pass by, i think of them.

Exclusive Streams


Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Managing Editor

Adam White

Contributing Editors

Kira Wisniewski Brittany Strummer Armando Olivas John Flynn Chris Moran John Gentile Mark Little

Copy Editor

Adam Eisenberg Britt Reiser

Podcast Producer

Greg Simpson


Aubin Paul

ISSN 1710-5366

© Copyright 1999-2013 Punknews.org

Terms of Use Privacy Policy Contact Us About Punknews.org

Other Places to Go