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Published on October 26th, 2012 | by Ballard Lesemann


CD Review: Sans Jose

Sans Jose
Go For Launch (independent)

What a puzzle: the latest disc from Sans Jose

What a puzzle: the latest disc from Sans Jose

Slick recordings with carefully overdubbed tracks, intricate production tricks, and high-tech equalization and mastering have their place in the music world, but it’s exhilarating to hear a noisy rock band in the raw on a lo-fi recording once in a while. Sometimes a no-frills, warts-and-all approach is best for certain groups, especially on garage/punk side of things.

Charleston combo Sans Jose’s five-song debut Go for Launch eschews studio fanciness entirely. The homemade recording sounds like it was tracked in a huge trash can. But it must have been a handsome trash can with a enough room to let the guitars and cymbals ring and the bass drum booms. Drummer Chaz Straney, bassist Scott Dence, organist Stefan Rogenmoser (a Metronome contributor), and guitarists Will Cox and Jim Faust simply congregated one evening, plugged in, hit the record button, and rocked out. Judging by the fuzz and distortion across the tracks, the recording levels must have gone into the red during the loudest measures.

The title Go for Launch harkens back to the band’s previous name, Go for Launch. If someone were to compile another Nuggets collection, any of the tracks on Go for Launch would fit right in.

The mini-album starts off with the mid-tempo “Shoot Shoot,” a jangly, four-chord romper with an early Kinks-meets-Sonics feel. Bassist Scott Dence sings each verse slightly off-key with a cool sneer. The chug-chuggin’ “Cold Front” moves faster with a bit more post-punk intensity (think early Mission of Burma and Pere Ubu). Guitarist Will Cox sounds almost totally exasperated as he fusses and sings on “But I Want You To,” which is probably the nastiest and most aggressive track of the bunch.

With a surfy, Batman theme-esque guitar hook, the listener can easily start dancing the Batusi to the go-go teenbeat of “Red Giant,” a rambunctious number with shouty singing from guitarist Jim Faust. Rogenmoser’s cheerful organ chords and accents contrast the relentless clang coming from his bandmates. “We Should’ve Known” closes the EP with an impressive arrangement that crams a lot of melodic transitions, melodies, and tricky chord changes into a minute and a half. It sounds like the main love song of the set, only with a spooky monster movie guitar hook in the intro and outro.

Sans Jose, 2012

Sans Jose, 2012

Sonically and instrumentally, Go for Launch features amusing amateurishness from song to song, but Sans Jose isn’t simply bashing the same three chords and drum beats along the way. Within the clang and bang of this rapid-fire rock record are moments of clever songcraft and pure energy, and it all comes together well. It roars with a trashy resoluteness that makes you want to crank it.

Sans Jose perform as “The Sonics” at the Tin Roof‘s “Halloween Cover Show” on Sun. Oct. 28 at 9 p.m.

Visit for more.

Below: a clip from a recent Sans Jose performance during Stereofly‘s showcase at the Pour House.



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About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.

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