While their 1995 debut found Columbus, OH's venomous and witty Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments in the rather surprising position of being on a major label, Rick Rubin's American, their 1997 follow-up finds them back in the more familiar territory of indie imprint Anyway. In the interim, the band tightened their attack considerably, emerging with Straight to Video, a disc of 11 tracks just as cacophonous and endearingly inebriated as those of Bait & Switch, but with better production and consistently catchy hooks that dare the listener not to sing along. Granted, their unabashedly abrasive sound is still what one might call an acquired taste. Oddly charismatic frontman Ron House's characteristically nasal, whiny Jello Biafra-esque vocals are considerably less caustic than on TJSA's earlier effort, becoming almost happily sing-songy on tracks like "Rump Government" and "Whisper in Your Mouth." Similarly, Bob Petric's chronically underrated guitar acrobatics are clear enough in the mix to make it is obvious he could hold his own against any of the metal community's most celebrated shredders, but tastefully. As with most self-respecting punk rock, the true star of the show tends to be the lyrics. In House's case, all targets are fair game, and this time out he takes his pen to topics like working in a record store (House is a part-owner of the Ohio State University campus area's legendary Used Kids record shop), Lester Bangs ("El Cajon"), and the self-explanatory "Philosopher Queen." Hypnotic album closer "When the Entertainment Ends," a nod to Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, is chock full of House's acidic commentary on topics like the prison system ("attach new prisons to high schools/fast food service might improve) and politics ("give a lottery ticket with each ballot/the suckers will think their votes matter). The song proves to be a raucous live rave-up as House often throws a full blown tantrum-dance on stage as he rants his way, red-faced and screaming, through the lyrics. "When the entertainment ends, that's when the fun begins."
AllMusic Review by Karen E. Graves