QUEERS, THE- "Punk Rock Confidential Revisited" CD
CONSTANT INSULT- "History In Shorthand" CD
JOHN HAYS- "Broke Heart" CD
Limited to 100 CDs in hand silkscreened cases.
Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered by John Hoffman except track 10 Recorded by Eric Cronstein. Art and Layout by Jamie Morrison.
"You can walk away whenever because I'll do it again, you can walk away whenever, because I'm nothing."
We live in a confusing time. Honesty isn't simple, it’s difficult to come by.
There's a lot of John Hays’ presence in this city, Cincinnati. There's the dude some vanilla-ass people would see and say, "that's a scary looking bald guy with tattoos,” which runs parallel with the John Hays that can MMA-kick-your-ass (for real). The John Hays that fronts a hardcore band (Fleshmother) can contribute to that same angry, seemingly unapproachable character. Then there’s the stand-up comic, with a light heart and heavy hit, we can easily call him a renaissance man of sorts, in a town with little crossover of craft and performance.
I've known John for fifteen years and he's what I would consider a true, honest person. He's the first guy to have your back in a fight (even if you're a bit left of right) and the first person to call you an asshole. Call it tough love, call him a good ol' boy, he's just John to me and everyone else that knows him.
He's a true life punk rock dude that gives a fuck about music and the people around him. These song's aren't perfect. He's not an amazing guitar player. He's not the best singer, but he doesn't give a fuck about that and neither do you when you hear his music. These songs are Honesty. They're simple, perfect songs about how life is a motherfucker. Honesty.
In my experience, John's songs have always been dark, sad, with tiny pinholes of positive anticipation, fucking hope (again). Note: tiny.
However, this isn't the case with Broke Heart. There is nothing to catch you while delving head and heart first into to these songs, just the bottom when it hits you hard in the ass.
Broke Heart is a record about losing faith. Not faith in (a) God (s) (etc), or even life; I believe it’s a record about losing faith in people, or in instances, perhaps a specific person.
The endlessly dependable, go-to guy persona can be a hard guise to uphold, especially when it’s not often a reciprocated temperament. "Do you want me to tell you that I’ve never lost before? Or should I lie and say I've never hit the floor." - Same as ever.
The record opens with the most important track. Bad Year is an outside perspective about being heartbroken, slumped and alone. "This is just another new normal, just the way you live." Life circles around you and you stay the same, especially while someone is missing from your life. You're stuck. An empty, monotonous circle of life.
There's a moment when you think the record might make a positive turn. Grudge Against Money is about feeling "gross and all alone," and perhaps a reference to betting on horses (?). However, The song ends with "I could care less forever about making myself better." It's fucking sad; it hits you it’s not about a monetary gain (or loss), it’s about life.
"Ill just keep on fucking up until I’m dead, no use in burying some dude that doesn't give a shit." Keep Fucking Up - This is a song about failing to your own standards. An existential crisis relatable to any internally progressive human being. Necessary therapy let’s say.
An Invitation is another pretty bleak song about being in a spiral of sorts. A display of friends and family validating your life and behavior. Life itself becomes redundant and the person who is supposed to be there for you simply isn't. "You can keep on moving, I'll just keep the same. This Life i'm living is killing me."
Suffer Alone is the final track of the record. It's a minute long. It has a fucking melodica or something on it. It's about how everyone John knows is going to die soon because they have “party problems”. I can't help but feel like this song is about me and my friends (because it likely is). My own personal existential realization is pulled into the forefront of my mind and soul because of the art that is this record.
Honesty. Fucking hope.
It emerges most visibly when you explore the dark in you.
The record ends, and if you're like me, you're filled with dread. He feels bad and you feel worse. I don't want to be the way I am anymore and neither does he, but we're not going to do a fucking thing about it. Honesty. It's okay to be sad, I guess.
At least we're feeling something. Something like fucking hope.
Now back to staring at your cell phone, but listen to this record first. -Jon Weiner