Destined to be enjoyed intensely by a handful of weirdos
—COLLECTIVE ZINE (United Kingdom)



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.



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.
—BIG TAKEOVER (Issue 68)


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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.

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.

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 (United Kingdom)


Its another great release from Phratry Records. [Swear Jar’s] “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 This is a dirty exciting release, and one I’m revelling in.
—SONIC MASALA (Australia)


Splittery lines make crooked angles to create math rock that doesn’t add up but has all the right answers!


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. Swear Jar is a combustible trio that exude intensity and play with the subtlety of a blunt object to the skull. 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—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. 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.


Swear Jar is a Cincinnati based group that play a very loose, almost overly spontaneous, type of post-hardcore. 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.


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.


“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.
—NOIZINE (Greece)


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.


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 and 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.

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.