How to Listen to Gem Jones’ “Admiral Frenchkiss”

How to Listen to Gem Jones’ “Admiral Frenchkiss”

You don’t know how exactly you got here but you know you’re trying to escape from something; it’s like one of those dreams— no no no one of those nightmares where there is a clear directive that feels deathly serious to you but somehow you don’t remember the surrounding context, only the directive, only the end point, the goal, ESCAPE, which obviously lies beyond the palm trees dripping neon paint on your windshield, beyond the screeching acid-spitting bats the size of Volkswagons swooping in parabolas at your exposed head trailed by a white silk driving scarf whipping behind you in the open air because you’re in a convertible, something you don’t remember owning five minutes ago but here you are, going like a thousand miles per hour away from equally fast giant terror bats and good lord they have awful awful green fangs, and nothing can make you stop, not even the car stereo which is itself having a bit of trouble trying to work its mechanical tongue around “Black Lantern” by Gem Jones which, coincidentally, sounds like each instrument is running away from each other, the organ blasts pursuing the distorted guitar, the guitar stalking a rhythm it can’t find, the rhythm in turn being crushed by the occasional echoing shout from whoever Admiral Frenchkiss is, the bastard, he’s the one who sent the bats isn’t he, of course, he’s wanted to slit your throat with his poison-tipped fingernails since forever. “Rock and Roll Dementia” clicks into place just as you make a hard right into a beautiful beach town where for some reason the bats are not allowed (you don’t know why you know this, but you know that you know it) and you’re only slightly curious as to why the ocean is full of bowling balls, cokes, burgers, fries, rollerblades, razor blades, but you have no time to stop because that barking voice is following you, trying to coax you with a vague approximation of a melody that sounds more like an alien trying to do its best interpretation of a 60s pop song. Is he angry? Is he happy? You can’t tell, but he’s surely something. “Shallow Rivers” produces a small, sad creature that forces you to leave the convertible, the engine of which is pluming confetti and pink smoke, completely worthless junk at this point, and besides, you realize, you aren’t trying to escape anymore but you’re headed towards something and you’re nervous, like you know someone is throwing you a surprise party but you don’t know where or when, equally expectant of evil bats and beautiful cake at every corner. “God in U” is the sound of your mangled, wistful, confused trepidation in reggae form, rollicking as you walk down the street and the sun sets repeatedly like a .gif, but the minute it’s finally out of sight, thank god, “Grimeshock” lights up your brain like a well-timed golden laser to remind you that this is still a bit of a nightmare and god damn it does the trick, the bats are basically like perching on your shoulders now cooing “sorry sorry sorry about your convertible”, and you just don’t know anymore, you don’t know if  you’re running away from yourself or to yourself, running to a party or away from one, at each pole stands the magnetic Admiral Frenchkiss and he throws everything off, your emotions all flat-lining into chaos as the sky grows darker and quieter and less colorful.

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And then everything goes black. A stage spotlight envelopes you in a column of light. The noise-soul showstopper, “Ectomorphic Love”, brings you back into the right state of mind. You aren’t happy, you aren’t sad, you aren’t dying, you aren’t running to or from anything anymore. You are here, and you are in love. Admiral Frenchkiss grabs you. He dips you. He kisses you deeply, with tongue. His fingernails curl around your throat.

Gem Jones is from Iowa City. They have released five cassettes on various small labels. Listen to more here, and buy “Admiral Frenchkiss” here.