There’s a bit in the solo on the first song on “Split”. It’s halfway through and CJ yells “Get out of our way!” For 30 years he’s been not caring for convention, and not abiding by the rules. And in that few words, it all comes out. All the frustration, everything.
That song, “Kick Down The Walls” is one you’d pick out as being a CJ song from miles away. Never mind the band that gives him his surname, Honeycrack’s “Proziac” is what this recalls. “We didn’t stand in line” he sings. Still, in his 50s now, and miles away from the Tattooed Love Boy he used to be, you’d best take sides. Are you with him? Against him? There’s no in-between.
“Butterfingers” the first single from “Split” is another from the same school. Chugging punk with a real pop melody. Yet its last line: “You’re not alone” is the message of inclusion that this album has its heart. “Victoria” would, in other hands be a simple love song, but this is better than that. This is an explosion, she’s “the bomb that went off in my world”. This is a gang, we’re all together.
“Split” is CJ’s best solo record – and his others have been great – but nowhere before has he sounded as downright visceral as “All The Dough”. I’m not about to speculate as to who it’s about, anyone who knows the history can have an opinion as to who the person who “blames the ones who helped us out, the folks who gave us fame” is, what I’ll say though is, he’s not someone I associate with being angry isn’t CJ, but my goodness this suits him.
“S.D.E” rather underlines the different approach to songwriting this time around, but he’s lost none of his gift for writing hooks and so forth. This is basically a collection of songs that stick with you. “Bad Decision” bursts forth for no reason in the middle of the afternoon. There are others.
And another thing has always held true with CJ’s work. His guitar playing is way better than he ever gets credit for. “Give The Dog A Bone” is a case in point.
“Mr. Angry” sees him adopt a harsh tone again – and believe me this is a world away from The Jellys, his post-Honeycrack band. If there was strawberry ice cream on offer here, then it’d be laced with razor blades, that’s for sure.
A lot of these seem a lot more personal than they have in the past, “All You Rude Boys” goes out to anyone who “talks too much and you’re full of shite”, and that this is perhaps both the heaviest and most punk rock and heaviest record he’s ever put out is shown again by “Schwienehund” which pushes the envelope still further in all directions.
It’s noticeable, though, that it ends on a message of hope and change. “Down with the old way, we got a better way” seems like not just a key line on “The Grass Is Greener” but almost a mission statement.
Just over a year ago, I saw CJ headline a bill that included Grand Theft Audio and Scott Sorry, it amounted to the alumni of that former band, and although that night CJ said it was OK to mention them, I’ve chosen not to here deliberately. The spectre hangs over the music – and let’s be honest – the lyrics, here and for all the chaos they’re my favourite band, just as they are for many reading this, but “Split” feels like a clean break, into fresh places. And never in his solo work has CJ sounded this wild or fearless of heart. It’s quite brilliant.
Rating: as ever no music related to his former band gets marks out of ten on this site, as it is too important to me