Jessica's Crime
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Jessica's Crime

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The best kept secret in music

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Gone to Texas is a concept record... a western rock-opera in two acts (the division of the songs by "strophe" and "antistrophe" is a nod to classical Greek theater). I leave it to you all to work out the fine details, but suffice it to say, it involves murder, vengeance, childhood love, loss, and (possibly) some kind of redemption. But don't let the "concept" fool you- each song stands on its own, with scads of catchy hooks and memorable guitar riffs and bass lines. It's somewhat difficult to cite comparative material for a record like this, but fans of the Sisters of Mercy, early Fields of the Nephilim, James Ray, and (dare I say it?) even Shriekback will probably find allot to like here. For the more "classically" oriented, the story-telling aspect reminds me a bit of Iron Maiden, but with quite a bit more subtext and wit (I doubt Maiden would have had the wherewithal to find a respectable rhyme for "pneumatophany," for instance). The songs range from absolutely ferocious rock numbers (Gone to Texas, Red River Blues, Priest) to surreal, experimental goth-jazz (Gateway Shuffle), to the slower, more melancholy reflections (Maria, Novena) that include some of the strongest moments on the whole CD. The last track (Texas revisited) is an acoustic revision of the first song, which might be even better than its electric counterpart. The packaging is also quite nice and includes a hefty twelve-page booklet with lyrics, illustrations, photographs, etc. All in all: a great album, highly recommended.
- Bes Pantheos, private correspondence


This is flat out one of the most interesting records I've heard in a long long time. Jessica's Crime have made an aural-cinematic masterpiece for the new century, combining hard-rock, psychadelia and country into a swaggering, assertive, evocative slab o' wax. Well, plastic, since it's a CD, not an LP. This is a versatile band. From the opening Western techno-rock of Gone to Texas--which hits like a freight train of "awesome"--to the closing Texas (revisited) this album doesn't let up. There's no filler at all, and the songs *don't* all sound the same. This is a band that has made a fine album, not just a bunch of songs. Every song evokes a different mood--and let's not even talk about Westworld I-II and Westworld III! No, wait, let's--that trilogy of songs has to be one of the coolest things I've ever heard, moving from acoustic guitars to heaviness upon heaviness to chanting in some language I don't recognize to crazy Western slide guitar to what sounds like the soundtrack to a Clint Eastwood movie (the good kind with horses and guns and killings, not the boring ones with bridges and women and "talking"). That sequence alone is a major achievement, and the rest of the record is just as good--for Pete's sake, they somehow managed to combine country music with industrial dance (!?!) on Priest, something that shouldn't work at all, but does, really really well. I know it sounds ridiculous to praise a record this lavishly, but I've never heard anything like it. I feel like a schmuck for using all these exclamation points! This is rock music for adults, and I hope to hear more from the band in the future. Does anyone know if they have a website? All I can find is a myspace page.

The upshot of all this? Buy it you finks! Bands like this deserve to be supported, because God knows they're too good to get on the radio. - Stutterin' Steve, from Amazon.com


Jessica's Crime formed in 1989 in Dallas, Texas where they were initially called SpeedKings. In the interim SpeedKings became Jessica's Crime, and managed to compose a body of songs while undergoing the usual line up changes and catastrophes that are prone to happen to bands. By 1997, their much anticipated debut LP, Psychosemantic, was finally released and quickly received critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. By 1998, they had slimmed down to a duo as the online world was burgeoning for the MP3 revolution. Suddenly, people all over the world were tuning in and catching on to this style of intellectual rock. 1999 saw them moving to Philadelphia while work began on the next recordings. Now, 11 years later, the band has no less than a full length CD and three DAM CD EPs and one cannot help but marvel at their growth in sound and style particularly after enduring the many major transitions and set backs that they have dealt with.

Don't Cry poignantly depicts this growth with lyrics that examine a relational experience. With a nod in musical style that veer towards the Sisters of Mercy and The Fields of Nephilim, this highly addictive song treads upon the area where one partner has seen far too much and has learned what is important in life and what can be cast aside. Vocally there is a maturity as well. The harsh punk edges are layered in the chorus, however Aaron's lead vocals are slightly compressed and showcase his ability to handle the tenor vocal registers that should make the goth world sit up and take notice.

Jessica's CrimeAre Friends Electric? is none other than the Gary Numan hit of some years back redone. There is a bit more energy to this track than the original Numan version, which should bring it much floor play in the clubs. Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, the classic Abba song restyled to fit with the goth underground is another hit ready to capture a whole new audience. Whether you like Abba or not, you owe it to yourself to hear how brilliantly this band recreated this tune for the night crawlers of the world. It is totally revamped with a heavy rock edge and cuts away the Abba sweetness that some seem to eschew.

Permanent broods with another lyrical example of the band's growth that questions one's mortality on many levels. The song is bass driven and the vocals demonstrate a bit more angst than the earlier tracks yet despite this vexation, it remains an introspective tune that ponders the longevity of one's love, work and memory in the changing sea of life.

For those who have not heard the music of Jessica's Crime as of yet, Don't Cry is an EP that you really don't want to miss. It is tightly woven together and demonstrates the great strides the band has made in sound and quality. The songs are already garnering some attention on many internet radio shows and it will only be a matter of time before they are all over the clubs. You can sample their body of work on MP3 and I can venture that it is a trip you won't regret. - Mike Ventarola, from Legends magazine #108


Coming loudly and aggressively out of Dallas, Texas is the gothic rock group that self-describes themselves as "Rock n Roll Terrorism." Borrowing heavily from the older crossover style and boosted by an ancient Egyptian look and feel with their hieroglyphic art adorning the CD and website, Jessica's Crime is held together by key members Aaron Bishop (guitar, vocals, programming) and David Hellstrom (guitar, backing vocals). They've since added Cliff (bass) to round out the dual guitars, but he has a tendency to pop in and out at various random intervals. Psychosemantic has a storybook feel to some of the tracks, similar to what the old UK metal bands did with their "theme albums" back in the mid-80's. The whole album isn't like this, by far, but their lyrics and music tend towards the more "I've got a story to tell" vein with a lot of fantasy thrown in.

The drums are programmed and not done live. Other than the drums, other keys & synthesizer sounds are far and few between. The songs are aggressively performed with a very grungey, garage-like sound. No polish here. The instrumentation is done well and tight enough without sacrificing the old-skool half-rock half-punk sound. They claim influences from a number of industrial harder edged groups; White Zombie, Skinny Puppy, etc. But I don't hear that in their music…if anything I hear a bit more of the Jesus & Mary Chain crossover style. And Aaron has a definitive Eldritchian look in his photo, but that's irrelevant in the frame of the music.

Cliff has a lot of metal influences in his bassing style. On songs like Angel (track 4), his bass has a definite Steve Harris ala Maiden punchiness. While Aaron performs the lead vocals, I at first assumed that David did quite a bit of singing. I was in the wrong, however…I thought I heard some changes from one person's voice to another, although extremely similar, but from what David has told me since the reason my two heard voices sounded so alike were because they were the same person. To match with Cliff's metallic bassing style the vocals also offer a more-yell-than-sing quality lending more to the heavy metal feel. The drum programming by Aaron is simple and maybe a little bland, but it adds what the songs need to keep it strong and moving. It complements well, but in considering it was programmed I tend to think there might have been a lot more Aaron could have done with it. But it does sound very much like a live drum track.

The first track grooves in, the mostly instrumental Rumors that sets a good mood for the rest of the CD. The CD sleeve claims that somewhere in the track the words "Can you hear me calling your name?" are heard…I haven't heard it yet after repeated listenings. While strange, it doesn't take away from the merit of the song; a strong rolling sound that grows like a wave. Very reminiscent of instrumental work from, again, Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath. A black metal feel. I think it's the guitars that give me this feeling because they have a high-pitched, near-whine throughout this track yet still remain within the framework of a controlled not-distorted sound. She (track 2) is definitely one of my favorites on the CD. A very SOM sound with this one, added to by a scratch-track that lies just under the guitars and just over the programmed drum beats. The song has a very fantasy-like quality tempered with a lovesick story. A well-written lovesick story I think, as opposed to the plethora of such out there these days.

Jessica's Crime also covers the famed Bo Diddley Who Do You Love? (track 7) here. I'm not so pleased with this one. They add a lot of fast strumming, the drum is still a bit typical and blandish, and I think it's just a simple matter of "adding too much" to the original sound of the song. It's chaotic, but in a less-controlled, more of a "just jamming" kind of way. I do have to admit that Cliff really takes the bass to the limit on this one…the bass line is fast, furious and reminds me of some of Flea's (Red Hot Chili Peppers) best slap techniques.

Another nice surprise from the tracks on Psychosemantic is the traditional/folk song they redid, The Devil's Son (track 9). A traditional piece that has floated around for years now about the infamous Blackbeard the pirate and his travels. Their instrumentation works very well with the song…normally I'd laugh at people's attempts at rock-n-rolling folk songs. But this one came out very well indeed.

Jessica's Crime is a band that is worth checking out if you like fantasy settings, mid-80's metal classics with a strong Jesus & Mary Chain or more chaotic Sisters of Mercy influence. They have an unpolished, garage-band sound that at times may get a little too chaotic and uncontrolled. I'm not sure if the excess chaos comes from them trying to perfect their garage style, which when you think about it is kind of silly (the garage style being, after all, unwanting towards perfection). If you're tired of all the new bands that churn - Marcus Pan, from Legends magazine #88


Scarecrow is the second full length release by Jessica's Crime, a formidable concoction of gothic, rock, and industrial influences otherwise known as "ophidian rock." As the band has stated in their press releases, this is music "by reptiles, for reptiles," and if you've any reptilian blood at all (I know that I do), then you'll no doubt liken this album to a dish full of juicy live rats... or, at the very least, you'll soon learn why being reptilian is a very cool thing indeed.

The opening track, Canaan, with its ominous desert melodies and earthquake percussion, conjures forth the onslaught to follow, from the frenzied Scarecrow + Hizbollah to the slow grind of What Forever Means. Balladseekers may find themselves sorely disappointed, as there is not a single sleepy moment to be found here... then again, who really cares? There are plenty of other albums to weep to... and why weep when you can obssess? For a quick primer, check out She (Metempsychotic) a remix of the band's stalker ode from their first album, refitted with higher power output and a prominent Nephilim-esque guitar riff.

The production of Scarecrow is heads and shoulders above that of the bands debut album, Psychosemantic. The blend of powerful vocals, snarling guitars, heavy production, and the occasional and subtle use of synths effectively arrange a marriage of influences drawn from The Nephilim, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Sisters of Mercy, and many others.

As an added bonus, Jessica's Crime tack two covers onto the album; Gary Numan's Are Friends Electric? and ABBA's Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight). Both are excellent interpretations, and, once one gets past the initial hilarity of the ABBA cover, one will notice that it also happens to really rock.

In short, if you like gritty and dirty (and yet, very well polished in its dirt and grit) rock music, with a tinge of gothic rock and industrial rock influences (the key word here is 'rock'), then, simply put, you need this album. Your new imperative is to purchase a copy of this album, crank up the volume, and tap into your inner reptile. - Rat Bastard, from Legends magazine #120


Ever look around at most of today's goth-rock bands and wonder where the
brains went? Do you long for the days when there was more than danceable
"hooks" to gothic/darkwave music? Don't look any further.

Jessica's Crime (whom I have been quite a fan of for nearly 2 years now)
does not disappoint with their 2001 release. Again the cornerstone is
Aaron Bishop's thoughtful, imagistic, and intelligent lyrics. There is an
element of storytelling, quality character development, and deep
subtext. It is also iconoclastic and full of attitude. It is void of
tired emotional melodrama and pathetic political correctness. Aaron
Bishop is a smart and articulate writer, and flaunts it without apology (a
refreshing change when it seems the bulk of the music industry has returned
to illiteracy as a mainstay).

The music is high quality as well, with a production level superior to
Psychosemantic (though the rough early "Nephilim-esque" crustiness of
Psychosemantic still thrills me). The rough and brooding, yet carefully
planned and skillfully played guitar and bass is all there. But with a
polished sheen that makes the whole sound glimmer.

Straying only loosely into punk, metal, or industrial; Jessica's Crime is
mercifully not caught up on being "metal industrial", "gothic metal" or any
other of the now exhausted pigeon-holes. It is a very aggressive guitar
and drum-beat driven, well executed, hard rock album drawing on some
obvious folk and ethnic string work in addition to expected rock elements,
all oozing with dark and reptillian overtones. Do I dare compare elements
of it to the early (Reptile House era) and latter (Vision Thing and latter)
Sisters of Mercy? Yes, in the best possible light (without sounding at all
like them). The two remixes of She (one of the cornerstone pieces from
Psychosemantic) and the cover tune round out the original tracks very nicely.
- John Harford, from The Fragment, Nov. 2001


(translated from the German by Joshua Roberson)

The award for the coolest band description goes to two fellows from Pennsylvannia: "Ophidian Rock Music for the cold blooded intelligentisia and the chemical elite. Plenty of guitars and thundering, cyclopean drummachines. Pure gonzo Hell." Quite right. Jessica's Crime- a musical duo consisting of Aaron Bishop and David Hellstrom- fashion gothic rock with a bit of industrial influence, which is particularly reflected in the production of the often angst-ridden vocals. On the other hand, many elements of the ten tracks available on "Scarecrow + Hizbollah" sometimes call to mind such gothic standards as The Sisters of Mercy in thier earlier days. Notable tracks such as 'Fall Away' or the immanently danceable 'Shine' should, in any event, become monstrously popular with gothic fans, while anyone who does not care for industrial influences- condemned in America since the end of the 80's- might see things a bit more clearly after this album. My opinion, in any case, is genuinely good- "Pure gonzo Hell", even. - Christoph Lücker, from Oblivion magazin #11



I really didn’t expect to like this CD, but it taught me a lesson about
pre-judgement…

Jessica’s Crime are an American Rock/Goth outfit. Now these three words
strung together began to conjure up ideas of unpleasant Masonite rip-off
merchants. Coupled to this I’ve been listening to Ethereal and more
Electronic stuff recently (or EBM and EB****X!) and rather lost interest in
the rockier side of ‘Goth’ where nothing interesting appeared to be
happening.

So I was expecting the standard cliché’s for some dodgy death/mansony
‘Grrrrgghhh’ vocals band. As Mr Eldritch might say, ‘I was wrong.'

Jessica’s Crime, a three piece at the time of this recording but now mostly a
duo, play a brand of music that probably fits best under the forgotten
American term ‘death rock’, musically I would draw comparison to a range of
artists including Paradise Lost[1], The Cult, Scream for Tina and the Merry
Thoughts//Sisters as well as some of the German Goth Rock acts. The
production is crystal clear and the musicianship highly proficient.

The album starts with the now seemingly compulsory introduction track, which
following the standard pattern of these things is all very nice…Showing they
can really play their instruments etc.….but rather dull….and I’ll skip over
it now when listening to the CD.

From this point onwards things become a lot more interesting. The second
track pounds into life with a Cult/Screams for Tina style guitar and superb
tribal style **drumming**. Then the voice comes in - and another shock - the
man can genuinely sing - a rich, deep, natural voice. Sounding I suppose, if
comparisons must be made, somewhere around Ian Astbury crossed with whatever
the name of the singer from Paradise Lost is.

Did is say superb drumming….? Upon checking the CD I see that there is no
drummer listed, "must be a session guy". But no - upon checking I find that
the band sold their cars to buy the top of the range drum
machine/sequencer/programmy thingamij. What’s more they have taken the time
to understand how to use it, fitting the drums in with the rest of the music
in a way I would of sworn was only achievable by a real drummer.

Tracks 3 and 4 show some Missiony/Merry Thoughtsy touches on the guitar and
bass. Track 4 also has an interesting vocal effect a backing singer
following the main singer about half an octave higher. Whether or not it
works perfectly is open to debate, but it shows a subtlety and a willingness
to deviate from the norm that is admirable. Track 5 shows a slightly more
industrial edge and the artificial nature of the drums becomes more apparent
through some expert programming - I’m also sure it’s a cover - but I can’t
place it ATM.

And along comes track 6…. This is a storming track titled Ride that will
certainly get a hefty amount of air-play at Disturbance. Pulsing tribal
drumming, combines with driving guitars and clear, soaring vocals to tell the
charming tale of a mercenary. The vocals are clear enough to understand
every word and the tune is so catchy that after several listens over the
weekend I’ve had it in my head all <sharing space with the *tune* and about
three word of Passion Plays ‘Names no Names ;-) >

The album continues with some more commercial rock tone floating to the
surface at time (think Cult - Electric) but is constantly engaging with the
production quality guaranteeing that the quality of musicianship can be
appreciated. It includes

This has turned into a bit of a rave, but I think the key reason I like this
album so much is that the band have taken a genre which I had thought dull
and staid and self produced an album which really stands out against bands
with a lot more money to throw at things - all the while keeping an
innovative edge and refusing to succumb to the temptation of banging out
clinched commercial stuff which would probably make them a lot more money.
This album should appeal to any fans of the bands mentioned and this general
area, as well as anyone like myself who likes good quality music from varying
sources - and is strongly recommended.

So we have all this - and the CD is only $10 from them. Contact, I guess is
best through the webpage:
www.jessicas-crime.com - a site with Nephilim style over-tones or by email or
e-mail on Ningirsu@hotmail.com. Course what someone needs to do is give them
some distribution over here…


Dave (G)

[1] ~ There are a couple of reference to Plost in here - which is more comment
on the style and shouldn’t be taken in a negative way - I don’t particularly
like Plost, Jcrime are a lot more interesting. - David Ellard, from uk.people.gothic


Every day is like Christmas here at AMP3.com. I download each new song anticipating a new gem for my permanent collection. Sometimes I am completely blown away, other times merely interested.

Jessica's Crime blew me away.

Sharing a similar musical heritage with such seminal bands as the Sisters of Mercy, Ministry, or the Cult, Jessica's Crime avoid the pure industrial thrash sound in favor of a more melodic commercial sound. "Traveler" begins with a soft piano intro, which is unusual in this genre. A melodic guitar riff enter the tune with full force and clear and well sung vocals are layered on top. For the uninitiated, this type of music is hard-driving yet accessible. Don't be surprised to find yourself playing air guitar as you listen to "Traveller".

"Ride" is a slab of harder rock, but no less accessible. Double-vocals by Aaron Bishop and David Hellstrom compliment savage drumming and a clever guitar riff. This song books along at maximum speed and is designed to incite or relieve aggression depending on the mood you're in. The lyrics evoke images of dark characters traveling off to perform acts of retribution: "...on and on into the rain and yeah through the wicked cold with a sword to sell in the wasteland hell I'm worth my weight in gold". Fans of gothic sounds and imagry will be clogging up the bandwidth downloading all of Jessica's Crime.

Bishop and Hellstrom who play guitars, bass, sing, and create the best drum programs you're likely to hear, have made me a fan. - Doug Cornell, from amp3.com (1998)


Discography

2006 Gone to Texas
2002 Letters to Suzuka: An Anthology
2001 Scarecrow (second jihad)
2001 Scarecrow + Hizbollah
2001 Love is Vengeance CD single
2000 Don't Cry CD single
2000 The Mutiny CD EP
1999 Psychosemantic (sub-figura 1.5)
1998 Psychosemantic
1995 Wintersongs cassette EP

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

The first Jessica's Crime incarnation materialized in 1995, following the dissolution of founding members J. Aaron Bishop and David Hellstrom's earlier project, the art-punk-noise collective, SpeedKings (1989-1995). Regrouping after the untimely death of their first singer, the original core trio- consisting of Bishop on vocals and guitar, Hellstrom on second guitar, and the enigmatic Cliff on bass- independently produced their first, full length record, the hallucenogenic, industrial/rock masterpiece, 'Psychosemantic,' between 1997 and '98. Many of the characteristic features of JC's self-described "ophidian rock" style were already evident in this early offering. Songs such as 'She,' 'Angel,' and 'St. Mary' showcased a thickly layered, riff-heavy, twin-guitar assault and catchy bass riffs, anchored to a massive skeleton of pounding drum machines. Throughout, Aaron's singularly ferocious vocal cut through the mix to deliver the complex narrative and rich literary subtext that would become the band's hallmark. Interviews and reviews in the alternative music press at that time conjured visions of a band wandering somewhere in the desolate no-man's land between Nick Cave and Metallica, with an execution that borrowed in equal measure from the Sisters of Mercy and Ministry.

Following the release of 'Psychosemantic,' Cliff left to pursue his own projects, while Bishop and Hellstrom relocated to Philadelphia to begin work on their follow-up release. Preceded by a number promotional CD singles, JC's sophomore record, 'Scarecrow + Hizbollah' (2000), featured a more metallic sound, which was used to particularly great effect on a re-recorded, amped-up version of one of the standout tracks from the previous record, the disturbing stalker anthem 'She.' The album closed with the now classic ode to psychosis, chemical abuse, self-destruction, and love lost: the incomparable, Mary Chain-esque wall of noise, 'What Forever Means.' This astonishing track was to be their last recorded output for more than five years and could have served as a fitting epitaph to an already impressive body of work. However, over the next three years, as Hellstrom gradually faded into obscurity, Bishop's long time friend and collaborator Michael P. came on board, after having been freed from obligations to his previous band, the critically acclaimed Dallas quartet The Confessionals. In the interim, an anthology record, 'Letters to Suzuka,' appeared, showcasing the finest moments from the first three JC albums.

Now, after years of meticulous recording in atmospheric locales ranging from the steel and concrete sprawl of Philadelphia, to the backwoods of darkest Missouri, to the high plains of Texas, Jessica's Crime return in 2006 with their third full length album, the epochal 'Gone to Texas.' Presenting their most fully realized concept to date, the band has unveiled a much darker style, bolstered with a newfound pop sensibility. The resulting twelve songs pulse and shimmer with razor-sharp wit and infectious grooves. The lyrics, sung by turns with howling ferocity and a poignant sense of loss, lead the listener on a stark and violent journey through the dreamlike landscape of a mythical West. Conceived initially as an extended sequel to 1997's 'St. Mary,' 'Gone to Texas' evokes the surrealistic narrative of King's 'Gunslinger' and the psychological complexity of Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness.' Musically, the band's finely honed, yet disturbingly surreal, country aesthetic spills headlong into relentless, mechanized percussion, overlaid with a complex lattice of gonzoid guitar riffing and mercurial, whiskey tenor vocals. The two most obvious choices for single airplay encompass the wide range of styles that pervade the album as a whole- on the one hand, we find the relentlessly danceable, country-industrial-death-rocker 'Priest,' while on the other we hear the soulful, acoustic lament of 'Maria.' The overall effect is weirdly familiar yet decidedly without parallel, providing equal measures of visceral and intellectual satisfaction, rarely encountered in popular music.