Jihad Jerry & the Evildoers

Mine Is Not a Holy War

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2006 has been a year of strange happenings in the Devo camp -- first the Spud Boys reinvented themselves as a tween-friendly pop act called Devo 2.0 with the help of the Disney corporation, and now Jerry Casale, one of the group's founding members, has revamped his persona while overhauling the band's malevolent synth-pop as Jihad Jerry & the Evildoers. In addition to Jerry Casale, Jihad Jerry's debut album, Mine Is Not a Holy War, also features fellow Devo veterans Mark Mothersbaugh, Bob Mothersbaugh, and Robert Casale, with John Freese (who has played with Devo on recent live dates) behind the drums, so it's no surprise that this album sounds like an updated and slightly funkier version of Devo. Unfortunately, the Devo albums it most closely resembles are mediocre later efforts such as Shout and Smooth Noodle Maps; this is aggressively uptempo electronic pop/rock that doesn't have a fraction of the sonic adventure of Devo's most memorable work or much in the way of interesting tunes. While Casale is obviously playing the role of satirist and provocateur on these songs, his political and social commentary is often trite, and while "Army Girls Gone Wild" and "What's in a Name" are certainly timely enough, "Hey, what's up?/You stupid schmuck!/Your mind is in a rut!/Hey, what's up?/You little putz!/You really suck!" from "All She Wrote" is an unfortunately typical example of the record's wit and methods. Anyone who has heard Freedom of Choice or Q: Are We Not Men? knows Casale and his comrades are capable of much better than this, but Mine Is Not a Holy War suggests a Bizarro world Devo in which everything interesting about them has been turned upside down -- whatever Jihad Jerry's war is about, he needs to rethink his strategy before his next campaign.

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