About every five years or so in the punk and hardcore scene a band comes along that changes everything. They just fill in all the gaps that you never knew were even there until you put on that record, and it’s all so new. The last time I remember that happening was with Born Against. Saint James Infirmary hasn’t been around that long, from what I understand less than two years. In their short existence, it’s been far from quiet. They’ve been moving along fast despite all the obstacles that have come in their way. Their live shows are definitely something to witness. Go see them. I’ve listened to their seven inch dozens of times, seen them live a few times, and I still can’t figure them out. Every time it’s new, and always powerful.
Saint James Infimary from Oakland California play a unique blend of music. They have received some of the most bizarre reviews, victims of their brand of rock and roll. -And yes -it is rock and roll. It’s driving, and it gets people dancing. Their music comes through a mix of styles. Many sides of their sound are totally raw and loud, but they are dynamic. A real blend of harshness and catchiness. Don’t try to pigeon hole them, don’t try and stop them.
Saint James Infrimary have been around since August 1996. Not a long time at, but the first time I saw them, I knew things would happen quickly. It’s been a rocky road for this band. Stealing their name from Uriah Heep’s bassist’s solo band. They played their first show in October in Eureka California, choosing an place far far away from their home, Oakland California. Next it was Halloween in Oakland. So far so good. You see, they weren’t sure about their sound at first, and needed to test the waters. Luckily, the water was great. Saint James Infirmary played as many shows as possible for months, venturing North and even through infamous L.A. territory, where things went great too. The band was formed by guitarist Jason Rosenberg of Engage and Glass Babble Radio. He moved from Santa Rosa, Ca. to Richmond Va. in search of this band. It wasn’t until he got back to the bay area in January 1996 that he would be able to find the other member she was looking for. He hooked up with Paul Lee formerly of Monsula to do the vocals. Together they tried various rhythm sections to no avail. Then they were tipped of to a drummer from Seattle who was down here looking to get a band going. They met Eric Alexander from Demspey, Balance Of The World and Ten-O-Seven. They arranged a practice and needed a bass player right away. Andrew of Screw 32 fame recommended his roommate Omen Starr, from New Red Archives’ Accustomed To Nothing. The first practice was in Paul’s room, a basement in the house where he and Jason lived. It didn’t go well apparently. The material was strange and new, and Eric felt it lacked anything resembling music. Eric only practiced a second time because he did’nt want to bring his drums home that day and was obligated. For some reason the second practice went okay. Thus became the beginning of a crazy ride. Two months later found the band working on a sound that was unique. Something powerful and loud, it was straight ahead rock and roll while being completely anti-rock and roll. Chaos and melody were crashing together. They put out a four song demo, which later became the 7″ EP on Allied Recordings.
I hadn’t seen a band work so hard, playing as many shows as possible without getting tired, writing new material, putting out a demo and record and moving and moving. Then it got rough. Eric ripped a muscle while they were in L.A. for one of their many trips. Eight shows were canceled, which totally fucked up all the momentum and threw a wrench in everything. And when it couldn’t get worse, about a month later while getting back in shape, after a quite normal practice Paul got his finger slammed in the van door, felt light headed went for fresh air and passed out on the way out of the van. He fell on his face. Cement is not the thing you want to slam your face on. Eight hours later and a long night in the emergency room, it was realized that the Northwest/Canadian tour would have to be cancelled. That night cancelled 17 shows… That hurt the band, and everyone’s motivation. Three months later Paul didn’t want a band anymore. He left the band. It was a rough decision for everyone. It was a rough decision to keep going. But alas, well worth it. A call was made by Jason to Baltimore Md. to a Scott Carter. Scott and Jason had played together in Glass Babble Radio years before. Needless to say, Scott quit his job, left his apartment and his home to drive 3,000 miles with his dog and a P.A. in the back of his truck. Scott had done him time as well on the East Coast playing in the infamous Freak Beans and Glaze Ride. The first practice with Scott was amazing, things were once again looking up. Many shows were booked, a Northwest/Canadian tour, and yet another L.A./Southwest tour. A record was already scheduled to be released on Allied Recordings and Frenetic Records. The momentum was without doubt back again. Scott was thrust into a totally insane time. One month to practice to learn all the songs. Then leave for Canada. Come back a record an album in a week in San Fransisco, while playing a few local shows. Finish up and get on the road again, to come back a do another stretch of local shows. In fact in October of 1997 Saint James Infirmary played 20 shows and recorded for eight days in a 37 day period. And as you see it’s been going quite well.
Yes, dear reader, you too will be slapping yourself silly for initially dismissing this band, but you’ll come to your senses when you realize the apparent “toughness” of this album is just spastic genius in disguise. Very jagged and abrasive inn a Circus Lupus tradition, yet occupying it’s own creative spac. When, oh when will I get to experience these sweetly disturbing time signatures live?
Shredding Material Magazine
Fucking yes! -amazing noisy indie rawk that truly shines. Damn I cant’ wait to hear more from this band. This leaves me floored.
Saint james infirmary perform such a lining-fast invasion upon the unsuspecting audial senses, it reminds me of German troops during their blietzkrieg advances across the soon-to-be tattered European landscape in the early stages of WWII. This is fast, furious, ferocious and unrelenting like the swift-as-sound punches of Muhammad Ali when he was at his wham-bam-fuck-you, Uncle Sam prime… a dandy of a disc that packs a throbbing wallop of knock-out, down-for-the-count proportions. Metalish punk rocketing through the sound barrier, fueled by seething anger and tortured torment…infuriated energy boils forth from this CD like the fiery frenzy of the Tasmanian Devil doin’ Henry Rollins doggy-stye!.. Boy howdy, this is a brain rattler, and I recommend it for those of you who relish speedy sonic sounds that bulge the veins in your neck and pop your eyes right out of their sockets.
Suburban Voice Magazine
Saint James Infirmary got their name from a pre-Uriah Heep band they saw on the back of that group’s “Best Of” album. And that like the Heep, they’re mighty rockin’ but you won’t find any organs here. Just guitar, bass and drums that lash out with vitriolic forcefulness and craved vocals. Using similar tools as Jesus Lizard or Rye Coalition. Jagged slashing passageways that convey a dexterous, as well as fiery musical command. Inspirational Riffola.
Jersey Beat Magazine
I loved this from the very opening of the first track “Bullshit Artist” until the final seconds of “Losing Race”. Saint James Infirmary leap out at you with a progressive raging records that remains furiously intense and passionate without becoming predictable.
With ex-members of a wide variety of bands, I had no idea what to expect from this. What I got was a noisy, heavy band with screamy vocals that probably wouldn’t be out of place on Touch & Go if they slowed down their pace a little. This band is tight as hell, and I would really like to check them out live; it’s not easy to explain, but I mean that in a good way.
Held Like Sounds Magazine
A very surprising 7″. really good melodic hardcore/punk with a definite ’80s Dischord influence, and that’s always a good thing. I think these guys are one of those “ex-members” kind of bands, but I never listened to any of their old bands so this only excites me because it rocks, and I’d certainly prefer it that way. Four very good songs. I look forward to more stuff.
Freedom Of Expression Magazine
Loud, distorted (even the vocals), angst ridden, Touch and Go influenced as of the late ’80s early ’90s. Tension music.
No, not the place that mends Leeds people, the band. And a trip into this Saint James Infirmary is surely way more enjoyable (though probably less comfortable) than a trip to St. James Infirmary in Leeds. I say uncomfortable because the sound is akin to a cross between edgy hardcore of say, Sparkmarker but with a deranged side to it, like a lot of Alternative Tentacles band possess, Dead And Gone to name one. In listening to this record I’ve bitten my nails down to the flesh, it’s got an uneasiness to it, it’s noisy and scatty and tuneful all at once.
Do you love Jawbox? Now that they’re gone, do you find yourself scratching that burning itch -not with similar, melodic, East Coast gyrations -but instead with the meatier weight of hardcore? Me either, but if I did I’d throw myself at the mercy of Saint James Infirmary. This band is over-the-top power with jagged rhythms and vocals that sound a little like Scott Weiland… Features former bassist of Accustomed To Nothing.
This is one of the best releases out of the bay area scene in a long fucking time. I am truly amazed by the beauty, and intensity of this four song seven inch. Saint James Infirmary play a hard edged, pretty basic, Quicksand/Fugazi-ish style. That is a basic explanation of their style, but I highly recommend hearing this for yourself. Excitement pours out of me when I hear this. Saint James seem to be leading the way for a new style of the post hardcore genre. Ex-members of Monsula and Dempsay rock the house on this one. An amazing seven inch, and there is a CD coming out soon.
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