Lists

Most Influential Arizona Punk Records -- #4, JFA, Valley of the Yakes

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One thing that's certain, the band enjoyed itself and the recording process, which is apparent in the finished project. There is aggression, of course, in JFA's music, but it has always been based more on the group's own frustrations with society discounting the "other." In many of their songs, the "other" is a skateboarder.

It's just part of the band's early charm and obviously was what the teenage Brannon, the band's principal lyricist, faced on a daily basis. This aggression, though, was firmly rooted in fun, and the band clearly has a sense of humor, as well as a keen ear for bringing in strong influences of both surf and funk to round out the sound.

"Kick You" is like a kick in the face as it jumpstarts both the record and your heart. The song changes tempo frequently and is a prime example of how Redondo and Cornelius beautifully and brutally wove their respective guitar and bass parts throughout the album. Sversvold, who will always be one of the great punk rock drummers, provides the Keith Moon part in Redondo's dream band more than admirably. He bashed his way through the seven tracks on side A and eight tracks on side B with the best of them, especially when you take into consideration his age at the time of recording.

Lyrically, "Walk Don't Run" . . . just kidding, and no need to send hate mail. It's an instrumental cover.

Seriously, though, Brannon's lyrics are often unintelligible, and when you pay close attention seem like the ranting of a pissed-off adolescent, but the delivery, timing, and conviction of his message is consistently awesome. "Guess What" will always be my favorite song on the record and it closes a classic record out as strong as you could ask for, especially as Brannon shouts, "Guess what, guess who fucked up . . . " as he tears into "Sally the gossip queen" and typical high school bullshit. Imagine how a 16-year-old Brannon would have torn into Facebook?

Beyond Brannon's lyrics, though, the greatness in songs like "Guess What," which revolves around Cornelius' dexterous bass line, "Preppy," "Skateboard/We Know You Suck," and "Little Big Man" is directly related to how the band had grown into a lean, mean fighting machine in their short tenure before Valley of the Yakes was recorded.

There are no wasted notes on the album or superfluous parts, and the album could have been one or two songs longer than it actually was and no one would have complained. In fact, the band would have liked for there to have been one more song. "There is one outtake we never could get right: 'Lucky Charms' [about the breakfast cereal]," Redondo says. "Played it live a bunch but could not get the timing right in the studio. Oh, well."

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Tom Reardon has written for Phoenix New Times since 2013. He's been in several notable bands over the last 25 years including Hillbilly Devilspeak, North Side Kings, and the Father Figures.
Contact: Tom Reardon