J Church

Texas Platter

Phases and Stages

J Church

Palestine (Honey Bear) J Church's Lance Hahn is sad to see Sound Exchange go, not only because it jibes with the sad, sloppy, funny punk aesthetic his band has radiated for over a decade, but also because it means he's out of a job. Hahn will probably get by; after all, he's done as well as can be expected so far in rebuilding a life that went up in flames last summer along with $40,000 worth of personal property. Palestine is an odds-and-ends collection of unreleased tracks dating back to 1997 from the formerly San Francisco-based band. It was originally meant to be the first in a series of now-lost recordings; now it's simply a fundraiser for Hahn. The lo-fi Palestine is rough around the edges, the sort of document that probably only serious J Church fans would fetishize. Yet even on first listen, it's easy to see why Hahn's band, only recently assembled as a 100% Austin endeavor, is so likeable. Hahn's sincere tone and cheap, hazy distortion elevate his silly stories into something greater on cuts like "Star of the Show" and "The Star Hotel," the album's highlight. J Church is more punk in theory than in practice, as Palestine is mostly fractured, fuzzy pop songs, mixed with Hahn's tape-loop experiments. Hahn's jazz fandom comes to the fore on "Sam Rivers," an absurdist shout-out to the jazz scion's performance at Austin's Ceremony Hall last year, and "Blase," a reworking of the Archie Shepp standard. Welcome to Austin, J Church.

**.5

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