Photo by Alex Schelldorf
Having been in the writing game for many years now, with most of those years centered on writing about music, I have come to find that describing what a band sounds like to be an unwelcomed platitude.
I’ve tried mixing it up, and tried to sound like I knew what I was even talking about. Writing things like “…sounds like Sonic Youth and The Replacements got together and covered Marquee Moon” came off as me sounding like some pompous asshole. Dauntingly pompous. When I finally came to terms with this problem I chalked it up to maturity. I figured it to be that when you get to be a certain age, and you have been doing something you love for the better part of your life, certain aspects which at once seemed imperative became inconsequential.
In the same vein, the newly-formed D.C. trio Jauze categorizes their songs on Two Demos as simply “garage-y fuzzpop or whatever made by Erik Sleight, John Scoops & Ryan McLaughlin.” It is that laid-back description which exhibits their maturity, and suggests that Jauze is a vehicle for which making music is the prime focus. And rightly so, as Jauze’s members have been an integral part of the D.C. music scene long enough that they no longer have use for such trifling formalities as to describe in great detail what their band sounds like. McLaughlin also fronts fuzz auteurs Polyon, plays with Sleight in Joy Buttons and previously played with Scoops in Typefighter. They’ve seen the scene change over the years and they’ve become wiser to the comings and goings of being in a band.
This past scene gets drudged up on “Maybe You Did,” as McLaughlin weighs in with “But you don’t know when to quit/ this town got loud and we’re older now/It’s not word of mouth who you are,” and in a later verse states “this town got crowded.” Noticeably though, through the ragged eruption of fuzz-heavy riffs, McLaughlin seems to be speaking to himself, coming to terms with his epiphany that the clubs and bars of his late youth have become populated by kids who don’t look old enough to be there, and the ones who used to be there having moved on.
There’s more introspection on the decision making, smash and bang “Want/Need.” The title alone screams of maturity and sacrifice, of drawing a line down the middle of a piece of paper and placing things on either side based on the current state of life’s priorities. Of those priorities, McLaughlin states “I get it backwards half the time” and “Don’t make me hopeful by giving me things that I don’t earn,” chiming like a mantra of self-reflection.
The two tracks on Two Demos are not the un-fleshed sketches their title seemingly implicates, but rather sound as whole and fully realized as anything else the three have accomplished elsewhere. In fact, Two Demos feels like the first stage of a climb, like a brief look back at the journey so far from a slightly higher plateau.