by Wheaton Hop
You know what I love about music? As someone who often falls onto the analytical hamster wheel of EVERYTHING, I love the connectedness you get to feel when listening to an album or artist. I love the insight into their lives, their thoughts, their passion. It’s like peering through the window onto the landscape of their emotions… their loves, fears, triumphs, and frustrations. It gives us the chance to feel a sense of sympatico with them, especially lyrically. You know that feeling. You’ve been there. You get it. And, to me, it gives you a deeper appreciation of not just the music we’re privileged to indulge in but a better understanding of ourselves and the realization that we’re in this together, this boomeranging thing called life.
In my mind, there aren’t many out there as brutally honest and emotionally real as J Prozac. He lays it all out there. If you’re familiar with J’s discography, from Grand Prixx to Prozacs to Stiletto Bomb to Doubtfire to his solo endeavors, you know this man pulls no punches when it comes to how he’s feeling personally, as a man, a friend, a husband, a father. He doesn’t shy away from the dark moments. He invites us to traverse the hills and valleys with him. He lets us see him at his most vulnerable and his most hopeful. He’s given us the key to his diary.
Won’t Let Go, his latest release under his solo moniker J Prozac, shows us he’s once again wearing his heart on his sleeve. No fuss, no muss. J invites us to hold on with him and discover what it all means to him. The importance of love, family, music, and perseverance. Like most of us, J is searching for the “strength to endure” and he’s going to pour his heart, soul, sweat, and tears into everything life throws at him to find that strength.
The title track Won’t Let Go opens things up with a tribute to his friend and fellow punk rock veteran Dan Vapid, a man we all know doesn’t shy away from the reality of emotional frailty. A bass driven, pop infused message of support, love, and an encouraging, “Hey, man. I’ve got you. You’ve got this. Don’t let go. But if you feel it slipping away, we won’t let go.” Honesty and realness from the start.
The second track, For The World, is a sweet letter to his wife, Andy Nihilate. Throughout the entire album, he reminds us that friends, partners, and family… the team those relationships creates, is often the only glue that holds us together. You have no doubt that J is forever thankful and that these relationships are the driving force behind everything he lives for. And he will always sing that appreciation from the rooftops to share it with them, with us, with the world.
Even if he feels a bit of Regret or maybe a bit Claustrophobic at times, he’s going to rely on People I Know. This charming song calls in his reinforcements, sons Tyler and Kody, for a quick little lighthearted ditty that highlights the awesome camaraderie and joy family brings. No matter how tough things can get, this is what it’s all about. Those moments we can create and share together are priceless and it’s not lost on us that this obviously means everything to J Prozac.
Just through the album’s halfway point, Days Go By slows it way down with it’s melodic acoustic Methadones-esque guitar. This one is a tribute to the love of our friends and family proving that, even after they’ve left us, they are forever thought about, appreciated, and missed. J opens up with a soft reflection of the pain that comes with losing people but a respect for the impact their presence brought to our lives. Raw, emotional honesty. It’s all he knows and I applaud his veracity and willingness to lay it all out there.
Humans, by nature, are temperamental. I call it riding the wave. After weathering the despair and sorrow we naturally encounter and as the tide drifts out, we have to just hold on for when the clouds part and the tide eventually carries us back to shore and The Beat Of Our Hearts. This energetic track serves as a reminder that no matter how bleak it can get, there’s still a lot more in life to bring us hope and joy.
All of these moments are our Building Blocks. And what better flare to add to the foundation of what it’s all about than calling in the kids of fellow musicians and friends to sing gang vocals? We’re all a “happy family”, right? It’s a fun track and J gave those kids a rollicking great memory. Class move from a class guy.
But let’s not kid ourselves (hehe), raising these future leaders of punk rock can be exhausting and sometimes you need a break. Here With Me is a plea for quiet decompression after the chaos of a day in the life of kids, work, responsibility. We all get overwhelmed and sometimes all we need is to just chill with the one we love and recharge. Even if it feels like Thirteen Days (YES! A Dirtbike Annie cover!!) since we’ve gotten the chance to just close out the world and be alone together.
But No Matter our desire and need for peace, J wouldn’t be J if he didn’t remind us that frustration is always a relationship or two away, lurking there just to keep things real and keep us on alert for when the next shoe (or preferably, the next album) drops.
For now, you can jump on the train for the journey that is J’s latest chapter, Won’t Let Go. It’s out now on Rum Bar Records and Bandcamp (with a handful of bonus cover tracks). Chances are you are familiar with J’s decades long career. But if not, here’s a good place to start. Go ahead. He left you the key.
Wheaton Hop out.