News updates for Joe Jack Talcum

Joe Jack Talcum at Razorcake

I confess: I am not, nor have ever been, a Dead Milkmen fan. I mention this because Joe Jack Talcum is the guitarist and a vocalist in the revered satirist punk outfit from Philadelphia. Being unfamiliar with the Milkmen’s albums has allowed me to be objective when listening to this collection. Ultimately, I was pleasantly surprised. The songs are lo-fi, which accents Talcum’s breathy voice: Imagine shutting your eyes while behind the wheel of your car, the windows cracked open so that a hiss of air blows pass your ears. Daniel Johnston and Kimya Dawson are obvious comparisons; however, Talcum’s songs are less disjointed and agonized, rather more assured and sardonic. Talcum practically hums over foreboding organ notes on one of the LP’s most haunting moments, “Go.” The songs meander into each other like a daydream until the instrumental, “Sweet and Sour,” and “Be My Property” interrupt the slow tempos with electric guitar and hard-hitting drums. B Side opener and highlight “Another Time” is a contemplative folk song in the vein of Elliott Smith and the musicians of label K Records, while “Forever Expanding Dream” is as meditative as the title suggests. Home Recording’s is bedtime listening that will infiltrate your dreams with its understated melodies and blanket you with its warmth. –Sean Arenas

Joe Jack Talcum at Get It On Vinyl

I’m partial to acoustic sessions, demos, and just downright lo-fi recordings. The exception to this is punk music. Punk doesn’t always translate well into the acoustic realm. This is for a few reasons. First, punk musicians aren’t always that talented. That’s kind of the point of punk music. You get a chance to let out your aggression via a handful of power cords or overdrive drenched simplicity riffs. I’m trying to come up with some acoustic punk that I like, and aside from Gogol Bordello, not much comes to mind. I mean, if you told me you had acoustic Black Flag demos of the Damaged album, I’d listen, but I doubt the aggressive swagger of the album would translate well. Secondly, punk lyrics often rely upon the music to carry them through. I know there are exceptions to the rule, but take a punk mainstay like “Beat on the Brat,” turn it into an acoustic ditty, and the Dr. Seuss sing song lyrics will start to grate on you.

When The Dead Milkmen front man Joe Jack Talcum’s acoustic album, Home Recordings 1993-1999, came across my desk, I was a little less than thrilled. Let’s add up the facts here. First, The Dead Milkmen are a satirical punk band. They’re a running gag of a band. I’m not saying there a bad or laughable band, but they are a band that doesn’t take themselves seriously at all. In fact, the band really could have been a fluke with songs like “Bitchin’ Camaro” or “Takin’ Retards to the Zoo.” These don’t sound like songs that would stand the test of time, yet, The Dead Milkmen’s first album, Big Lizard in my Backyard, holds up surprisingly well, and I really hate that juvenile punk music of NOFX or Blink 182. The Dead Milkmen have always maintained a minimalistic Minutemen, lo-fi vibe that has created an interesting and enduring feel to their music. So, you can see my apprehension at Joe Jack Talcum’s Home Recordings. Based on the band’s history, it sounds like Talcum would inevitable fail at the whole acoustic thing. First of all, the Dead Milkmen’s lyrics aren’t all that strong, and their playing is minimalistic and sparse. How will this translate into an acoustic album?

The truth is, that Talcum’s punk vibe translates welling into acoustic songs. I was surprised upon listening to Talcum’s Home Recordings. The album has a lo-fi charm similar to early Beck. No, Talcum hasn’t grown up at all. His lyrics aren’t deep, and his playing isn’t mind-blowing. Still, Talcum manages to craft a set of acoustic songs that are downright charming. “Talk,” the second track on the album, definitely has the sound of a 90’s tune. It’s a smartass ditty, with a chorus of “blah blah blah…” It’s a nice little sing-along number that you could have told me was a Marcy Playground B-side, and I would have believed you. With that being said though, I enjoyed “Talk” far more than I ever have any Marcy Playground song. Not all of the tunes on the album are acoustic though. “Sweet and Sour” and “Be my Property” are nice garage rock rave ups that could have easily fit in on a Dead Milkmen album with their minimalistic post punk vibe. “Forever Expanding Dream” even has some touches of psychedelia with echo and reverb flourishes. There are parts of the album that drag, but overall, the album is a nice listen that will appeal to freak folk fans, garage rock fans, and punk fans alike.

Home Recordings 1993-1999 is Talcum’s second album in the home recordings series with Home Recordings 1984-1990 preceding it. Both of Talcum’s Home Recordings are available from http://hhbtm.com/. The LP comes with a download code.

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Joe Jack Talcum at This is Book’s Music

You may know of Joseph Genaro as one of the members of The Dead Milkmen but he also recorded some material under the name Joe Jack Talcum, who you may be more familiar with. HHBTM Records has released a new compilation of his home recordings called Home Recordings 1993 – 1999, which were recordings between 1993 and 1999. I could easily say “that’s it, that’s my review, I’m outta here” but you want to know what it is. All of them are basically demos of songs he would later do or songs he ended up recording for himself, and this is a different perspective of what he has been able to do throughout his career. Most of these are mastered from Genado’s own DAT’s while one song comes from a cassette so if you want it to sound and feel rough, it’s here in all of its rugged glory. These songs could easily be adapted into new arrangements, or cover them as is and see how far these songs can go. Listen to “Call me A Fool”, “One False Move”, “The Sun Shines Out Of My Asshole” or “Another Disgusting Pop Punk Song” and give renewed life to these songs, as they are doing on this new compilation.

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Joe Jack Talcum at Whisperin and Hollerin

This album is the second instalment in the home recordings of Joe Jack Talcum who used to be the singer in The Dead Milkmen: a band I have a vague memory of having seen live once a long time ago.

In the old days this album would have been on cassette with a Xerox cover rather than on vinyl with a painting of the Tascam recorder much of it was produced on as cover art painted by Joe Jack Talcum. So this really is for Dead Milkmen completists wherever they are hiding.

As expected, for an album of home recordings, it’s pretty lo-fi from the opener One False Move. This track is a sort of plea for redemption on an acoustic guitar and it has the best reworking of an advert tagline I’ve heard in a while when he sings “Guinness Is Good for you, one false move and you’re dead.” It’s a pretty cool little tune.

Talk has more “Blah Blah Blah’s” than on all the posters for the Iggy Pop album of that name, but it also has the feeling of being about the arguments at the end of a relationship as it’s getting real messy before out of nowhere comes a guitar break that is all Pale Blue Eyes-ish. It’s a compelling little song. Madonna’s Weep has Joe Jack pleading for the love of a woman who would rather go shopping than love him and it’s a tender plea.

Go is a rumination as to why he is still with this woman who hates him when she used to love him and the realization it’s time to go arrives over some incredibly hiss covered organ. Call Me A Fool is a very clever song with a twist. At first, I thought he was playing the spurned lover, all downbeat and wronged, then the song suddenly reveals itself to be about a stolen car before descending into loads of hissing tape noises as his pride and joy speeds away.

Sense Of Humour is a cool lo-fi song about losing it all, including your sense of humour. Side one ends with Sweet And Sour: a fizzing instrumental, seemingly about calling for a take-out but with a great angry, angst-y guitar opening that sounds like it would be a great tune to start a gig with.

The B-side opens with Another Time; a sparse song of yearning at 3am when he’s lost in a reverie and trying to sound like a 1990’s Nick Drake but is too skewed to be that dead on. The brilliantly-titled The Sun Shines Out Of My Asshole has a real Vaselines-type feel to it as he declaims his lot as a super-giant man. This one is crying out to be played live.

Cup Of Tea is a good lo-fi Robert Pollard-ish paean to a good ole cuppa rosy lea. Be My Property is an odd plea to his paramour to, er, be his property which is fine if you’re chasing a mail order bride but not so fine if it’s a normal woman. Still it’s a pretty cool indie clatterer.

Forever Expanding Dream is the slightest, most barely-there song on the album. It’s almost comatose it’s so slight but then maybe that’s when the drugs kick in and his mind really expands. Which leads us to I’m Not Here: a song about taking loads of pills and what happens in the aftermath.

The album closes with the most Dead Milkmen-esque song, Another Disgusting Pop Punk Song that sounds like it’s aimed at Green Day and their ilk. It’s a great piss-take that is just a little too ramshackle to pull off the trick it attempts but I’d love to hear a finished and fully produced version of it and that is the case with many of the songs here.

All in a pretty cool album of lo-fi demos that can be found here: HHBTM Recordings online

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Joe Jack Talcum at Raised by Gypsies

One of the biggest mistakes that I make when listening to a cassette that is a collection of songs spanning years such as this is that I try to see it as one cohesive sort of release when in fact it was released over the course of six years on various projects and so this is kind of a compilation, a greatest hits if you will, on some level more so than being your standard album.

In this sense, these songs can be different from one to the next and it makes perfect sense as to why.   To go from that acoustic guitar and vocals route onto piano keys and organ synth and then ending off the first side with a rocking instrumental number might not make sense if Joe Jack Talcum was putting together a brand new cassette right now, but here it works.

I also find the time frame of this rather interesting.    In 1993 cassettes were still around but they weren’t as popular as they used to be as the compact disc was trying to phase them out.   I use 1994 as my gauge for time- because it’s when Kurt Cobain killed himself- and I remember that an album such as “In Utero” was available on cassette but I owned it on CD and that was not uncommon.   The early 2000’s were when cassettes became most scarce, as they stopped being mass produced, but I still feel as if this span from 1993 to 1999 would also be a slightly harder time to create cassettes because people were just finally all moving over to compact disc.

So what are these songs about?   I mean, the music is there and it’s got a great sound which doesn’t always resemble the strict home recording/bedroom vibe, and as such I try to think back about what my life was like in this time and then I get sad and realize I’m old so I stop reflecting.

One thing I can say though is that the first song is about drinking Guinness, which is something I can get behind.   Perhaps if I had heard that song in its original context I would have bonded with it.   Possibly between these years, my sister had a party that I went to by default and one of her friends presented me with Guinness for the first time and compared drinking a can of it to eating an entire meal.   Needless to say, I drank two cans (After already having other drinks) and felt close to nothing.   Ah, to be young and able to consume mass amounts of alcohol again.

A quick journey to Discogs shows that JJT had a “Home Recordings” set before this, from 1984 to 1997, and released as a CD instead on Valiant Death Records.  I only note this because it was *not* released on HHBTM and perhaps they could release it on cassette.   It’d be kind of like moving backwards when I was looking to see if JJT still made music but I’d be fine with that.    The newest offering Discogs has is from 2011, which is a split LP he did which I will not look into but I can’t imagine he stopped making music.

To have this sort of piece of time in the life of a musician, a sort of time capsule revealed if you will, is something I can never really get over how amazing it is.     This is important for fans of cassettes, fans of certain styles of music, blah blah blah, but mostly it’s just something you should hear because I feel it has that certain mass appeal.

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Joe Jack Talcum at This is Book’s Music

You may know of Joseph Genaro as one of the members of The Dead Milkmen but he also recorded some material under the name Joe Jack Talcum, who you may be more familiar with. HHBTM Records has released a new compilation of his home recordings called Home Recordings 1993 – 1999, which were recordings between 1993 and 1999. I could easily say “that’s it, that’s my review, I’m outta here” but you want to know what it is. All of them are basically demos of songs he would later do or songs he ended up recording for himself, and this is a different perspective of what he has been able to do throughout his career. Most of these are mastered from Genado’s own DAT’s while one song comes from a cassette so if you want it to sound and feel rough, it’s here in all of its rugged glory. These songs could easily be adapted into new arrangements, or cover them as is and see how far these songs can go. Listen to “Call me A Fool”, “One False Move”, “The Sun Shines Out Of My Asshole” or “Another Disgusting Pop Punk Song” and give renewed life to these songs, as they are doing on this new compilation.

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Joe Jack Talcum, Hobbes Fanclub, See Gulls at Soundscape Memoirs

Click through to listen to the podcast.

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Joe Jack Talcum at Red River Noise

Dead Milkmen guitarist Joe Genaro, or more commonly known as Joe Jack Talcum, announced the release of Home Recordings: 1993-1999. Set for a Sept. 2 release via hbbtm,Home Recordings: 1993-1999 is the follow-up to 2011’s Home Recordings: 1984-1990. It is much different from the satirical punk rock many would come to expect from Joe Jack.

Sonically Home Recordings: 1993-1999 falls in line with the analog/4-track sound of home recording, with the his and warmth not present in today’s digital mastering era. This record will appeal to fans of Daniel Johnston, Tall Dwarfs or even Elliot Smith.

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Joe Jack Talcum at Wondering Sound

Batch of songs from Dead Milkman frontman matches his inimitable tiny-voice to sparse acoustic instrumentation. This is lo-fi folk, tender and fragile. Fans of early Sentridoh should love this.

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Joe Jack Talcum at WithGuitars

It’s never going to be a hit. No one’s looking for this. It’s too subtle, too heartfelt, too understated. But everyone who hears it is going to fall in love, and isn’t that enough—after all there are better ways to measure success than stardom.

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