John Doran’s review of “One-Armed Bandit” by Jaga Jazzist

Jaga Jazzist

Band: Jaga Jazzist

Album: One-Armed Bandit

Critic: John Doran

Publication: The Quietus, 2010

Writing Disorders: Idea Fever, Detachment Syndrome, Toxic Tedium

Longest Sentence: 65 words

Irony: “never sinks to anything like pastiche”



John, like any good music critic, I’m going to start this off with a barely relevant metaphor. Your website reminds me of the episode of The Simpsons where Homer meets his half-brother Herb. Before their chance encounter, Herb demands to hear about the new lineup of cars planned for his company. The nearest guy in a suit says, “You’re going to love this, sir. The…Persephone.”


Herb barks out in his Danny Devito voice, “PERSEPHONE? What the HELL kind of name is PERSEPHONE?”


That about sums up the reaction I had when Kate mentioned your website to me. The Quietus?  It’s funny enough you picked a URL that ranks behind a tinnitus medication in search queries, but naming a tightly puckered music site after a Medieval Latin word is just the cat’s ass.


In honor of discovering The Quietus, I’m going to try something new here, John. I’m going to take some lines from your website’s mission statement in the “About” section and see how well you carry the banner. I mean, who better to represent “some of the best music writers from the last 30 years” than the editor of the site that proclaims to employ them? Does that sound like fun? Good. Here goes:


“First and foremost the emphasis will be on quality writing that avoids the all-filler no-killer route that so many magazines have gone down”


Might be aiming a little high, but I like your resolve, John. Let’s forget for a moment that you started your review with a paragraph-long history of the fruit-themed slot machine and skip straightaway to your dissection of the album.  This sentence really pummels the competition:


“The suggestion is that Jaga Jazzist are as capable of acting on a challenge as they are at surprising as they are at entertaining.”


John, were you trying to write a Rubik’s cube of a sentence here, or did you just forget to edit out a clause? Maybe the writing is so sophisticated that my plebeian eyes just can’t behold its brilliant cut. You are the editor after all. While my retinas recover, let’s see if we can find an example of your dedication to the all-killer, no-filler approach so perfected by Sum 41:


“On one of several stand-out tracks ‘Toccata’, there is a knowing nod to Phillip Glass as it builds slowly round choppy looping and contrasting minimal lines played on pianos and glockenspiel before bearded beat behemoth Martin Horntveth kicks in with a rhythm that switches effortlessly between a locked swing groove and some blasting Buddy Rich fills”


Wow, with such an intricate description, who even needs the music? Why save anything for the ears when the eyes can just lap up all the splendor? Oh wait, you weren’t finished:


“Add trombone and tuba to provide a parping bass groove and the resultant sound clash sounds not unlike Penguin Cafe Orchestra providing a live soundtrack to Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance with beats provided by St. Germain and DJ Shadow.”


“Sound clash sounds?” John, a little verb agreement agreement might bring your audience one step closer to braving the viscosity of your encyclopedia “Toccata.” How about you work on that while I download three different artists’ music and rent that movie to try and piece together an enhanced appreciation of that song I’ve never heard.


But before I run to the local obscure videocassette store, let’s see how John Doran exemplifies yet another plank in platform of The Quietus:


“We will inject a strong mix of opinion, humour, intelligence and passion back into journalism utilizing the best writers for the job”


I think you’ve already proven that you’re by far the best writer for the job of injecting things, John, so how about we hit those other bullets? This review was just filled to the brim with humour, so it’s hard to pin down the moment where I laughed the hardest. Seriously, I was laughing so hard that I peed THROUGH my computer screen.


Nah, I’m just kidding. The review was boring as shit, but there was one unintentionally funny bit:


“Along with a preternatural ability to procure a lock-in and play darts and killer, the career drinker should be intimate with the fruity.”


John, I’m sure that last phrase is the badass way of describing slot machines across the pond, but over here…well, let’s just say the phrase “intimate with the fruity” has different connotations.


I guess all that’s left is the “strong mix of opinion”:


“they can remind one of the sterling work”

“he sweetly seduces the listener with his honeyed trumpet tones”

“for the listener this is the equivalent of hitting three bars in a row”


Introducing new third-person opinions! All the letters and words of a regular opinion, with none of the soul!


All right, play time’s over, John. I’m glad we have a chance to meet again after I featured your weird tantrum about that Maps album on NME. Rest assured, I’ll be visiting The Quietus in the future. After all, it is the best of the best. Mmmmmm….so good.

13 thoughts on “John Doran’s review of “One-Armed Bandit” by Jaga Jazzist

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  2. “…were you trying to write a Rubik’s cube of a sentence here..”

    Man, I almost spit my drink out of my nose when I read that. Priceless! 🙂

  3. Danny De Vito is at his peak in the TV series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He fits his role perfectly in that series. One of the few actors who have overcome physical limitations to achieve success.

  4. @Evan: I agree…..Danny De Vito is truly a great actor. He has a very impressive list of successful movies under his belt.

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