Swear Jar
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Swear Jar

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States | INDIE

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Punk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"RAZORCAKE MAGAZINE - Swear Jar "Cuss" Review"



Gleefully raucous. A halting, yowling, tightly-wound mess. There’s a whole lot of namedropping in the one-sheet, and a few of them actually seem fairly accurate to this listener: I do hear a few nods to the unabashed structural weirdness and tomfoolery of NoMeansNo, and the crazed bombast of Jesus Lizard. On songs like “Bury My Body,” they go for a more traditional garage rock approach (there’s even a few palm mutes in there!) but, for the most part, it’s crooked, rawboned, dirty shit. They never quite match the full-blown intensity of either band, but they come pretty close. The recording’s slightly murky, but a band like Swear Jar may not benefit all that much from everything brought into the light and examined under a microscope. Their particular vision is not my thing at all, but it’s still a reasonably realized one. Not bad. –Keith Rosson (Phratry)
- Razorcake Magazine

"BUILT ON A WEAK SPOT - Swear Jar "Cuss" Review"

BUILT ON A WEAK SPOT, June 24, 2011


Although this has been out awhile, since sometime mid-last year from the looks of it, it’s been a record that has grown on me over the past month or so since first hearing it. Swear Jar is a Cincinnati based group that play a very loose, almost overly spontaneous, type of post-hardcore. Initially I think their record Cuss suffered from a lack of volume on my stereo, which was my mistake. The production on Cuss doesn’t necessarily do it any favors for those that are looking to throw this on in a low volume environment, with values that push the drums and bass to the front of the mix. And as lame as it sounds, once put through a pair of headphones, it really begins to open up some.

It seems, in general, that spontaneity when associated with post-hardcore leads to thoughts of Drive Like Jehu or the endless amount of followers. Swear Jar seem to stand outside this blanket of thought and are really a band that enjoy circling around and around with elements of vintage post-punk, the jutted rhythms of Fugazi, and at times the uncomfortable declarable vocal approach of Steve Albini. The bass work on Cuss is kind of the key here, straying from the more simple rigid confines and providing a constant looping rhythm that gives the album its elastic abilities. With it, the guitars are freely allowed to explore what almost sound like improvisational methods here and there, although I’d be shocked if that were the case. However, they do a pretty good job of covering up their tracks with some solid playing, or at the very least these guys aren’t trying to fool anyone with a lot of the same tired cliches. Where I was simply going into this record expecting a lot of the samey material I’ve heard before, Swear Jar come out of it looking pretty decent.

Those that are interested in picking Cuss up can do so by hitting up Phratry Records where it’s available on both LP/CD. It appears that it’s also available digitally through the Bandcamp. However, as a heads up, the full fourteen tracks are only on the vinyl edition of the album.
- Built On A Weak Spot



SWEAR JAR - "Cuss"

Swear Jar definitely reminds me a bit of The STNNNG from Minneapolis. Both bands use a variety of vocal deliveries, and each band’s music is sometimes difficult to digest. Cuss is a welcome change a pace from more straight forward bands. (Phratry Records)
- Manual Dexterity Music Zine

"NOIZINE - Swear Jar "Cuss" Review"


SWEAR JAR - "Cuss"

“Cuss” is the debut release from these Cincinnati based “sound killers” named Swear Jar. It’s another great release from Phratry Records that reminds me of noise rock and post-hardcore bands of the 90’s. “Cuss” combines Shellac’s and Jesus Lizard’s noise-screaming rock with Fugazi’s post-punk attitude. All the songs in “Cuss” are really heavy. This album produces different feelings to the audience: sometimes makes the listener wanna headbang and sometimes it makes him wanna scream and act violently. Swear Jar with “Cuss” share their passion about noise and hardcore. They tried to find new ideas in order to apply them in their heavy hardcore rock.I believe that people that are not used in this kind of music won’t like “Cuss” but I’m 100% sure that funs of Shellac’s post hardcore or Minutemen’s Post-Punk will appreciate Swear Jar’s effort.

Favorite Songs: “Bad News”, “Ready”, “U.S. Us - Noizine

"COLLECTIVE ZINE - Swear Jar "Cuss" Review"


SWEAR JAR - "Cuss"

Really enjoying this. Swear Jar crank out a brilliant and wilfully anachronistic racket that kinda reminds me of those strange times when hardcore might have 'officially' died but folks were still making some interesting fucking music, avoiding pigeonholes while at the same time creating new ones for those who'd follow in their footsteps. Things clang and rattle with intelligent intensity, blunt-sounding bass plunks wandering in and out of drunken yet purposeful grooves while tinny guitar strings are shaken and strangled into awkward new shapes. The singer, meanwhile, offers up some weird sung/yelled/spoken/stuttered vocals that suit this kind of thing perfectly: odd, individual and as varied as the music itself. Something tells me these guys are most likely going to be overlooked by the punk rock masses, but this shit is totally great and should at least be given a punt by those who haven't forgotten the likes of Bastro, Scratch Acid, NoMeansNo and (later) Honor Role or fancy a gnarlier take on what Tiny Hawks were once doing. Awesome. - Collective Zine

"INDEPENDENT CLAUSES - Swear Jar "Cuss" Review"


SWEAR JAR - "Cuss"

Although not the loudest of the Phratry bands, Swear Jar still packs quite a wallop. The basic idea from the band is yanked from that time in the early ’80s to the late ’90s when punk rock became a true art form: let’s play loud, fast and hard, but not necessarily the way everyone expects us to.

Swear Jar’s punk rock never slips into musical pretension, which is to say it imagines ’98-now never happened. There are still good old punk rock sections (“Blinders”), but there are also sections of straight-up noise (“Sasquatch”), spoken-word post-hardcore (“Bad News”), and lots more.

It’s the atypical rhythms and the bass that make Cuss the fantastic trip it is. Just when you think you know where a Swear Jar song is going, it’s not going that direction anymore. The drums have changed on you, or the bassist has gone nuts in a new way.

The metallic edge and “turn that way up, man” volume of the bass guitar in the mix makes for an arresting sound that doesn’t appear often anymore. Since there’s only one guitar in this band, the bassist has a distortion pedal on hand to take the rhythm guitar bits when the guitar is “soloing” (“On the Prowl”). In “Lonely,” it sounds like the bass is leading the sound and the guitar just there for rhythm. The interplay between the three members of the band is fascinating: see hyperkinetic “Rastallica” for all you ever wanted to know about band chemistry.

Here’s a note to prove the quality of this album: all of these examples come from the first half of the disc. Yeah. This band knows what’s up. If you’re a fan of serious punk rock (i.e. people who disagree that Green Day ever existed), Cuss should be a smorgasbord of delights.
- Independent Clauses

"ROCTOBER MAGAZINE - Swear Jar "Cuss" Review"


SWEAR JAR - "Cuss"

(Phratry) Splittery lines make crooked angles to create math rock that doesn't add up but has all the right answers!
- Roctober Magazine

"CINCINNATI CITYBEAT - 2010 All Over Again: The year in recordings, Greater Cincinnati-style"

CINCINNATI CITYBEAT, December 29, 2010

2010 All Over Again: The year in recordings, Greater Cincinnati-style

A testament to the sheer quantity of quality releases by Cincinnati area artists this past year is the fact that before I went to the archives for a little memory jog about what came about in 2010, I did an off-the-top-of-my-head list and came up with 50. Immediately. In years past, the year in local recordings wrap-up has usually hovered around 40 or so releases. And that was post-archive scour.

This year, not including a few releases not sent to us, one-off singles and others I will be kicking myself Wednesday morning for stupidly, accidentally omitting, CityBeat has mentioned nearly 150 releases by local musicians in 2010. Researching and rereading our coverage this year, I found myself thinking “Oh yeah! That was amazing!” way, way more thinking “Hmmmm, doesn’t ring a bell” or “Yeah, that was rather crappy.” That says something about the quality, too.

I whittled the final list down as much as possible and it’s presented here in no particular order, with a few excerpts from our coverage in 2010. Skim the list; go to citybeat.com to read the full reviews and/or feature stories; find the artists’ music to taste then perhaps devour online, support them live. And then keep going back and exploring these and the other great artists you’re lucky to share a region with. No matter what you think … it’s better than you think.

(snippet from 2010 release run-down):

Swear Jar — Cuss
In an age where studio gloss and overwrought perfectionism seems the norm (even for so-called “Punk” bands), Cuss is a welcome slab of Rock & Roll spirit and Punk Rock pandemonium. (MB) - Cincinnati CityBeat

"THE NEUS SUBJEX - Swear Jar "666 In The 513" CD Review"


SWEAR JAR - "666 In The 513" CD Review

Cincinnati's own SWEAR JAR have broken through into the local music scene and have left sweat stains everywhere.

After witnessing a live show, I thought it would be stupid to not contact this band and give them a proper introduction to NeuS SubjeX. Upon receiving this disc, I was immediately brought back to what I liked about SWEAR JAR's live show: Their way of using the Bass and Drums to carry most of the heavy rhythms and letting the Guitars melt into the mix with a not-so-normal guitar-driven sound.

This 3-song disc has combined elements from my past that I would have never imagined coming together so well. Picture The Jesus Lizard and Dead Kennedys putting out a split 7" with each band covering the other and still being influenced by local bands like Autumn Rising or Theraphosa. Sometimes there's a little Les Savy Fav sound, which is truly unexpected, but appreciated.

EPs aren't really what I would like to see from a band, but it's still a good tool for getting their name out there and onto the surface of what's to come. SWEAR JAR are keeping Cincinnati music alive and original from the rest of the world. I can't wait for more.

-Dave Fishwick
- Neus Subjex

"CINCINNATI CITYBEAT - 2010 Cincinnati Entertainment Award Nominees Announced"


2010 Cincinnati Entertainment Award Nominees Announced

Another great class of local bands nominated for this years CEA awards. This year there are 16 public voting categories and 3 critical achievement categories that will be voted on by the nominating committee. Have a look below at the full list and be sure to vote here.
(Swear Jar was nominated in the "Punk" category):


The Dopamines
The Frankl Project
I Fail
Mad Anthony
Swear Jar

- Cincinnati CityBeat

"THE LITHOGRAPH - Jerry Dirr of Phratry Records on working with Swear Jar (snippet)"

THE LITHOGRAPH, June 26, 2009

Jerry Dirr of Phratry Records on working with Swear Jar (snippet)

THE LITHOGRAPH: What are some bands on Phratry that we should be on the lookout for in the months to come? Anything else you would like to add?

JERRY DIRR: ...I’ve also got a full-length release in the works for Cincinnati’s Swear Jar. They are easily one of the most underrated and under-appreciated bands in this area. They don’t sound like anyone else around here. They self-recorded their album and it honestly gives Steve Albini a run for his money. Anybody that’s a fan of Albini and the bands he’s worked with should take note. - The Lithograph

"SONIC MASALA - Friday Cover Up Triptych - Burying Bodies Of Horses At The Party"

SONIC MASALA, April 15, 2011

Friday Cover Up Triptych - Burying Bodies Of Horses At The Party

I mentioned these two bands earlier in the week as unknowns whose albums really float my boat - Reno's Fa Fa Fa and Cincinnati's Swear Jar - and by the end of the week nothing's changed. But what is also special about these bands is that they have put killer covers on their debut albums.
...Now Swear Jar's track (Bury My Body) is a killer one, but a little harder to come up with its genesis. Just labelled as a traditional track, Swear Jar's version is anything but, crawling along with enough buzzsaw brutality to get my blood boiling... - Sonic Masala

"THE NEUS SUBJEX - Swear Jar "Cuss" Review"

THE NEUS SUBJEX, November 2, 2010

SWEAR JAR - “Cuss” (LP/CD)

Separated in two parts that could wage infinite war with each other for superiority (without winner) Cuss is the debut release from these NKY(2) sounds assassins that have done their best (and lord knows they tried) to cure (at least my) insatiable thirst for interesting, intense, raw, moving and powerful music. With this release becoming highly anticipated in a short amount of time, Cuss definitely inspires and causes movement. You listen to it and wanna do something. Write. Scream. Pick up a guitar... Cuss spurs action. Imagine a more accessible and listen-friendly version of US MAPLE mixed with social conscious post-punk bands like GANG OF FOUR or the honesty to their songs lyrics and structures likening that of THE MINUTEMEN and, at the same time, a sound that also reaps the benefits and danger of punk pioneers like THE BIG BOYS; Cuss could have been a bridge between THE BIG BOYS punk and funk definitions. It’s new enough for all those kids who call records vinyl's (fucking idiots that they potentially are) to like and appreciate but still (at the same time) holds true to the Back In The Day®* punk ethics of yester year (I’m talking as recent as early as 1995 here peoples!) that keeps old codgity fucks as myself interested. The songs on Cuss are heavy AND delicate. They are strong AND fragile. They show promise AND decadence. Cuss plays like soundtrack to watching a forty-five minute swath of the news, with plenty of toothpaste, fast-food and pharmaceutical commercials played in-between segments. Is it of any coincidence that my two-year old picked up the LP sleeve, heard the beginnings of the song “Old Shake,” and said “Uh-Oh”? No, it isn't. She should be concerned because records like this will one day be treason to own. Yes, I said TREASON. Cuss goes against everything that the modern machine touches and molds. Cuss shows that there is still rebelliousness out there. The fight continues... Wow. I cant believe that I even said that... It’s just rare that a record these days, like Cuss, comes along and I cant find anything I would change about it. This, in my book, is a damn near perfect release. It’s a reason behind any codgity statement that nothing good is released these days. Cuss is good. Damn good... Swear Jar will prove you wrong, and now I don't have to go to church this sunday. Good, cause I wasn't going anyway

By: Shawn Abnoxious

*(thank you to Gunther8544 for the co-development of this phrase)
(2)-POST ADDENDUM: Apparently, these guys arent from NKY, they are from Cincinnati. Shane wrote me to tell me this... But Really, it's JUSt a river -Shawn 11-07-10
- Neus Subjex



'Cuss' Words

Post Punk crew Swear Jar celebrates the release of its new long-player Cuss Saturday at the Southgate House Parlour with Pincushion and Mala In Se. Phratry Records is giving away Cuss CDs at the door with the price of admission ($5; $8 for those 18-20).

Though the press release for Cuss states “most people won’t like it,” fans of old-school, underground, independent Rock and Punk will immediately get what Swear Jar is doing. While most of the songs have a spastic, wild-eyed energy, tracks like “Lonely” possess the murky, sludgy grind of later Black Flag, while the sung/shouted vocals on songs like “Old Shake” and “Narcissist Artist” are reminiscent of peak Jesus Lizard and early Butthole Surfers.

The band’s rhythm section plays a prominent role; the ropy, sometimes distorted bass lines drive everything, while the creative, convulsive drums underline and accentuate the inherent chaos the trio effortless concocts on nearly every track. That sturdy anchor and the songs’ unexpected, roundabout structures (akin, in approach, to the hectic, unpredictable roads the Minutemen paved decades ago) allow the guitars to dynamically weave in and out of the grooves, shooting sparks of gnarly ingenuity.

While the recordings on Cuss might have benefited from a little more tightness (The Jesus Lizard’s maniacal sonic bedlam worked so well because of the members’ flawless musicianship), the occasional sloppiness is a part of Swear Jar’s appeal, giving the album an endearing “live” quality and accentuating the feeling of frenzied spontaneity.

In an age where studio gloss and overwrought perfectionism seems the norm (even for so-called “Punk” bands), that makes Cuss a welcome slab of Rock & Roll spirit and Punk Rock pandemonium.

- Cincinnati CityBeat

"SONIC MASALA - You Cuss, You Use The Swear Jar"

SONIC MASALA, April 13, 2011

You Cuss, You Use the Swear Jar

Cincinnati's nihilistic noise rock band Swear Jar hold the not so dubious honour as being the second album I received this week that I had no expectations of whatsoever, yet it blew me away. Its another great release from Phratry Records (they were responsible for the Mala In Se record that I spoke about here), and it tears despite (possible because of) its low production values. The album, Cuss, doesnt belong in this decade. It belongs on blood, sweat and beer stained floors alongside the likes of a young Jesus Lizard or Shellac, with Fugazi watching on from the bar. It tears along at a million miles an hour. Its split into two sides, and in my opinion the B-Side (called Cavity Joel)is by far the best. I love the fact that you have to buy the vinyl to recieve all 14 tracks - 'Exit Bandvan' isnt on the CD album. Embrace the wax revolution... Seriously, this is a dirty exciting release, and one Im revelling in.

Posted by Brendan T - Sonic Masala

"JERSEY BEAT - Swear Jar "Cuss" Review"


SWEAR JAR - "Cuss" (Phratry Records)

Swear Jar is a band that does not want you to relax while you listen. With a sound reminiscent of Amphetamine Reptile’s noisiest and most abrasive work, Cuss is a thunderous, unapologetic assault on your senses. Rob Flexon (drums), James Burns, and Shane Chaney (all other instruments) are a combustible trio that exude intensity and play with the subtlety of a blunt object to the skull. The opening seconds of “Sasquatch” are gripping due to the sheer brutality of the screeching guitar that introduces the band to the world in some form of flesh-ripping birth. “On the Prowl’ and “Rastallica” are a majestic combination of tracks that tease the listener with hints of harmonious riffs before veering into the darker side of song construction. There is nothing compromising or soothing on this disc; it is a boiling, seething din that one either appreciates or will run from in terror. As a person who greatly enjoys music of this nature, Swear Jar is immensely refreshing. They must know that their target audience is small, but is certainly rabid and this disc is a tribute to those who do not want music to be conveniently labeled. Simultaneously minimalist yet complex, Swear Jar possesses an energy that is sorely lacking in the world of rock right now. The slash and burn approach to “Blinders” and “Cheating Death” are thoroughly intriguing and satisfying, while the pounding groove of “Heavy Corpse Song” makes it one of my favorites of the bunch. There are some fairly clear Fugazi moments here, but only due to the band’s stop-on-a-dime style and refusal to adhere to a traditional song structure. It is not easy, but then again, the best things in life usually require effort. Commit yourself to this and you will undoubtedly run back for more. - JERSEY BEAT Music Fanzine

"MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL - Swear Jar "Cuss" Review"

MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL, Issue 339, August 2011


If VH1 did an indie-rock version of I Love the '90s, SWEAR JAR would be first choice to be talking heads. They would no doubt wax lyrical on their love of acts like the JESUS LIZARD, DRIVE LIKE JEHU, and most notably, SHELLAC. The heavy, drum-and-bass led sound and the cynical, staccato vocal delivery traces a direct line to Steve Albini's trio, although the songwriting and structure draws on more diverse influences. They are one of those bands that place great stock in the fact that they record everything analog. For good reason, as the recording itself sounds great: probably everything they hoped it would. I'm not sure what place SWEAR JAR has in the musical world of 2011; hopefully there's a wave of '90s nostalgia on the horizon that they could surf to fame and glory. (AM)

"THE BIG TAKEOVER - Swear Jar "Cuss" Review"



In so many ways, Cincinnati's Swear Jar are my ideal punk band. Their music bears the marks of great bands such as The Minutemen, Jesus Lizard, Birthday Party, Nomeansno, Saccharine Trust, and Shellac, but the uncompromisingly dirty production reminds me mostly of the ultra-negative atonal meanderings of The Festival of Dead Deer. It's a soup of agitation--uncomfortable nervousness and manic depression that's, quite honestly, not easy to like, but for those of us who feel this way deep down in our souls, it's a soothing acknowledgment that we're not alone; somebody else out there gets it, and we don't have to traipse out there quite as solitary as we thought. If you get later Black Flag and SST recordings, you'll understand; otherwise, don't bother. (phratryrecords.com)



"666 In The 513" Limited Edition EP, Barnyard Productions 2007

"Cuss" full-length album, available on CD and vinyl LP from Phratry Records.



SWEAR JAR does not belong in this decade. But this band isn’t a nostalgia trip. Their sound is the result of an evolution which began with bands such as Drive Like Jehu, The Jesus Lizard, Shellac, Fugazi, and Pitchblende. Parallels have also been drawn to The Minutemen, Nomeansno and The Crucifucks, most likely due to Swear Jar’s minimalist style and uniquely energetic presentation. Better suited as a soundtrack to the great skateboarding videos of the 1980’s and early 1990’s, Swear Jar is for fans of SST Records, Touch & Go Records and Gleaming The Cube...

Swear Jar first played together on 6/6/06. The impromptu sounds of that night laid the foundation for songs to come. The band members share a common enthusiasm for bombastic hardcore rock, garnished with unexpected transitions. Nightmares, crimes, phobias, and other scares dominate Swear Jar’s lyrics. It’s music that makes you think, but still makes you move. Some have described Swear Jar as ‘music for musicians’

Most people won’t like Swear Jar. And that’s just fine by both the band and label. You either get it, or you don’t. If you don’t love the band, you probably hate them. Swear Jar is focused on exploring new ideas and applying them to punk, underground, indie, or whatever kind of “rock” you want to call it this week. It's just three friends who happen to make music together and share an interest in provoking reactions or making connections with even the smallest audiences.