Some 14

West Side Highway

For Brooklyn-based J. Majesty, it has always been about musical exploration. They take great care not to let themselves be defined by musical boundaries. Take one part kudzu country sass and twang, one part post-hardcore power, and one part sensitive wounded heart, and you're only halfway to describing J. Majesty's sound.

Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, J. Majesty is now a resident of New York City. They came to the Big Apple one at a time, driven variously by the search for quality dub music, the frantic calls of bands seeking quality musicians, and simply the need to brush the hometown dust off their shoulders and experience the bright lights. After stints playing with various bands and musicians, our heroes holed themselves up in a freezing cold storefront and a band originally called Sleeping Pilot (and at one point featuring Theo of The Lunachicks and Jeremy Chatelain of Jets to Brazil) gelled and transmogrified into J. Majesty.

Comprising the band is vocalist/guitarist Spanky Van Dyke, whose scratchy smooth voice has been compared to everyone from Perry Farrell to Neil Young, bassist Jim Kimball (aka "Home G"), wizardly talented guitarist Jeff Johnson, and drummer Dale W. Miller. Spanky, Jeff, and Home G have been friends since playing in the Salt Lake City music scene in the early '90s. In 2000, Home G met Dale at Other Music in NYC's East Village and when J. Majesty needed a new drummer, he gave Dale a call and it was on.

Powerful and striking, J. Majesty manage to be as raw and unbridled as Minor Threat, as ardent and elegant as Sunny Day Real Estate, as brainy and arch as Jane's Addiction and as dramatic and operatic as Shudder to Think. Season liberally with the flavors of British post-punk angular melody, a dash of noise-guitar psychodrama, and a smattering of emotional dynamics, and you're not too far off.

Since moving to New York three years ago, J. Majesty has released one full-length on Some Records and toured with bands like Rival Schools, Jets to Brazil, Sergio Vega and others. They are now hitting their stride both musically and as residents of the Big Apple. The band can express exactly what it wants, with each note serving a purpose. Guitarist Jeff Johnson (aka "jjonthesun") credits New York City for this. "Much of our music has an open air feel to it, like the Utah country. But the new songs are precise and to the point. That's what New York City is about, no bullshit."

The band has been writing new songs for their follow-up LP but in the meantime is releasing 23, an EP recorded in Salt Lake City last year following their Jets to Brazil tour. The EP features four new tracks with topics including the earth, farming, and foxy mamas. "Harvest" is a mellow song that discusses the cycle of life of a plant. The EP also includes the anarchistic "No School" from their self-titled debut, which is a song about choosing your own path and not following the mainstream.