5 Minute Walk
By: Eric G.
When Glen Galaxy (a.k.a. Galaxalag) left Truman’s Water to start a band devoted to Jesus I just thought he was going through some kind of drug-induced, post-euphoric haze. Six albums later, I guess it’s safe to say the “born again” thing isn’t a joke. Soul Junk may technically be a “Christian” band, but no Christian band has dared ever cover this much musical ground (the Danielson Famile included). Soul Junk started off reciting Bible verse in lieu of writing its own lyrics, which seemed charming when set against its early, weird indie pop but quickly wore thin and grating on some of its full lengths. Wisely, the band abandoned that technique in favor of Galaxy’s stream-of-consciousness, Jesus-loves-me wordplay.
Soul Junk seemingly reinvents itself with every release, drawing comparisons to obvious influences as disparate as Sebadoh and John Coltrane. On 1956 the band takes on rap. That would be commercial suicide for just about any other indie rock band I can think of, but Soul Junk just shines. I must admit I’ve never heard anyone even attempt Christian rap before, but Soul Junk silences the cynics and shreds any doubt about its abilities on this phenomenal album. Galaxy may be white, but he can out-rap the cream of the hip-hop crop. I’m not kidding either. His MC skills are something to behold. Fuck Eminem. No matter how tough he talks he’s always going to sound like a prepubescent pussy-boy. Glen Galaxy should be on MTV teaching teens how it’s really done.
Check out these rhymes from “Ill-M-I”: “float like the Cassius/swing like the Clay/one day I’m’ma make the whole world pay/with K.O.’s and O.K.’s we bash clots in dot dash/got that right I’m’ma rock the Morse Code tonight.” Where’s Jesus, you say? Right here: “got succulent flavor- the uprisen savior, manifestin’ thru these mics &/blastin out your graveyard, savor every bite Glaxalag gave you, turn & tell your neighbor/this ball of dirt is going into labor.” Word. The whole song floats over a violin sample with thick, heady bass lines cracking underneath. I’d be surprised if the band doesn’t manage to convert even the most jaded of the indie rock elite with these slashing beats and rhymes.
Soul Junk sounds like Beck on Ritalin on songs like “How We Flow.” Horns crash the electronic beat-fest and banjos, rumpled sound effects, and booming bass waves make way for Galaxy’s stellar MC-ing. I’m embarrassed by how long I sat on this disc before listening to it. More amazing rhymes that demand attention: “& why is it you mannequins got no idea what’s happening/rock em all robotic cuz they more or less inanimate/inadequate to deal with all this funk within my cabinet/’s why I serve my shots in sipper cups & warn all y’all ‘bout slammin it” (“How We Flow”). Awesome. It’s aggressive and catchy without being corny, and Galaxy never fails to slip in a few clever digs at non-believers.
1956 explores more than just hip-hop, of course. Soul Junk, also like Beck, puts everything it’s ever experienced in a blender and simply watches the show. The band is beyond eccentric. The energy and utter randomness is overwhelming upon first listen. “Sarpody1” is just solid songwriting, though. It’s an acoustic-based ballad (kind of), recalling J Mascis in his heyday with its detached tension and dark undercurrent. Electronic samples sneak into the mix, and, before you realize it, the song is swarming with noises, which just makes Galaxy sing louder. “3PO Soul” kicks things back into silly hip-hop mode. It sounds like Ween after 100 whip-its and a free day in the studio, complete with vocal effects and exaggerated inflections.
Just when you think you’ve got a handle on Soul Junk’s bag of tricks, it busts out with a totally unexpected retro-garage rocker like “Judah.” Galaxy delivers his evangelical lyrics like a brash young punk bitching about the man. This album is unstoppable. Its unpredictability is its greatest weapon. Soul Junk has pulled itself out of middling indie rock obscurity with 1956. Take a chance on it. You won’t be disappointed.