H. Chinaski – Smaller Size Jar with an Idea

H. Chinaski
Smaller Size Jar with an Idea

Before recording Smaller Size Jar With an Idea, H. Chinaski have been playing together for nearly 10 years. That’s a long time, and, somehow, I had heard nothing of this Oshkosh, Wisc. band until recently. It’s unfortunate, because this full-length, released last year, contains some of the best and most innovative post-hardcore style of rock that I’ve heard in years. Oh, and the band takes their name from a Charles Bukowski character.
I’d say H. Chinaski definitely falls into the realm of bitter and emphatic emo-core. They incorporate driving guitars, moments of complex, angular rock, screamed lyrics and a power that’s damn impressive. Imagine the angular sounds of bands like Unwound with the bitter vocal styles of Shellac, and you get a sense of what H. Chinaski is all about. And, amazingly enough, other than on one track, this was just a duo.
The album starts out with “Flying Saucer,” a more melodic track that contains all sorts of noodling on bass and guitar before the vocals even come in yelping and biting. “Easy” is more upbeat, with something of a post-punk beat and ripping guitar chords that somewhat bury the vocals. And as much as the more rocking tracks are good, it’s the more melodic and atmospheric tracks like “Track #8 Club Dancer” that are really unique, reminding me of a more harsh Seam. “Trains on Strings” gives you a sense of the harsher, more angular sound the band would take on their later songs, with crunchier guitars and a great sense of when to shout and when to get all quiet and mumbly. “Give Me the D” is a bit more off-kilter, with something of a bass-heavy groove and double vocals. The song is less harsh but a bit more confounding, with numerous changes in rhythm and flow and vocals that are sung one moment and yelped out as if in pain the next. In contrast, “Red Cars” has one of the catchiest beats and bouncy, punk-like natures on the album. “It’s a Big Day to Choose a Good Time” has a Boy’s Life feel to it, moody and very thick yet not too fast. The last track, “Over,” even has something of an acoustic, gentle feel to it, belied by some ominous bass, but it provides a nice and recovering way to end the album.
It took me a while to track down the H. Chinaski releases, but it was well worth the effort (and I made it easier for you by linking to Doubleplusgood’s e-mail). This band plays some of the most original and powerful rock that I’ve heard in a long time. These songs rock in a harsh, powerful way. Seek these albums out, and you will become a believer. Unfortunately, word is the band has broken up.