There’s a lot happening in J Burd’s world. Since emerging on the Long Beach music scene in 2014, this sort of busyness is not uncommon. J Burd has been prolific for their time here, releasing three full length LP’s, an EP, and several singles since their incarnation. When initially asked to describe J Burd, frontman Jason Callanan said “a bedroom recording experiment.” A common characteristic of the DIY bedroom pop scene is low fidelity “fuzzy” recordings. When Jason first started recording in his bedroom his sound fit in the general lo-fi tag of fuzziness. In his later releases though he manages to create a sound that is crisp, comparable to studio production.
Jason makes music in J Burd with his two brothers Joey and Nick Callanan. J Burd is Jason’s brainchild: he sings, plays guitar, writes nearly all the songs, and records all by himself. Joey plays bass and helps Jason write lyrics. Nick composes and plays the drum parts. The brothers started making music in the early 2000s. Their songs were short and fast and drew inspiration from hardcore punks like Minor Threat and Adolescents. As they grew up they developed their sound and officially became J Burd in 2014. The band released their first album, the self-titled J Burd in 2015. This album is full of fuzzy guitar rock and is comparable to Ty Segall. They released their second album, Time Scared, in 2017. This album was J Burd’s take on acid rock with clear high fidelity production.
J Burd’s 3rd album Ruk’u Yaya was released January fourth of this year (2019). Throughout the album, J Burd’s family roots are tied strong. The album’s title pays tribute to the brother’s late grandfather, Titus Van Zanten, whom the album is dedicated to. When the brothers were on a family trip in Ecuador the locals there referred to Titus as Ruk’u Yaya. In Quechuan, the native tongue of Ecuador, the term translates to “wise old one”. The cover art was painted by the band’s great grandmother Rosalie Triplet. The lyrics to the song “If I’m Dead” are written by a long-deceased aunt, Barbara Callanan. The lyrics were originally a poem written by Barbara but the band morphed it into a song.
Soundwise Ruk’u Yaya is more laid back than J Burd’s other work. “Dilly Dally (Summertime)” features beautiful breezy guitar work ranging in tone from acoustic to steel guitar. The song has a mellow feel that is matched by equally mellow lyrics describing a laid back vacation with a loved one. The song is accompanied by a music video which is an aesthetically pleasing display of a road trip through the northwestern United States. Another highlight of the album is the song “Glitter Man”. The song starts with an irresistibly catchy synth line and continues with bright acoustic guitars and introspective lyrics. These words chronicle going through the notions of life that we feel forced to do for example going to college, and questioning “why am I doing what I am doing?”
Ruk’u Yaya is a solid and consistent album that strays from boredom by being layered with many tones throughout. The band plans to support the album by playing a string of concerts. They will be visiting Long Beach record store, Dyzzy On Vynyl, with another Long Beach band, Preloaded Spoon, to play a show on February 23rd. The album is pressed on vinyl and for sale on the band’s independent record label, Baby Carrot Records. You can also buy it digitally on Bandcamp and stream it on Spotify. I would recommend that you do that soon, so you can tell your friends you listened to J Burd before they blew up.