Friday, May 15, 2015

Gut Feeling: Joanna Gruesome - Peanut Butter

Joanna Gruesome - Peanut Butter
Slumberland, 2015
Let’s just get this out of the way right at the top: We all know that Joanna Gruesome is a terrible band name. It’s funny, sure, but it does a disservice to a really terrific young band. Unlike most of the bands on Slumberland’s roster who seem content to dredge up the label’s pop-tinged shoegazey past, Welsh quintet Joanna Gruesome make their own beautiful mess out of punk, indiepop, and a kitchen sink’s worth of nods to the great hooksmiths of the 90s. Now allow me to undercut that statement by saying that Peanut Butter is the spiritual successor to Black Tambourine’s Complete Recordings. That’s about the highest compliment I can pay, because that album is maybe the most perfect indie-pop record ever recorded. The genre is at its best when the albums stick to a ten-songs, all under three minutes formula, and Joanna Gruesome not only follow that line, but keep the tracks around the two-minute mark. As a result, these songs achieve what is basically the equivalent of the Magic Hour in music: They don’t overstay their welcome and you want to immediately listen to them all over again.

Which is why I want these guys to change their name! You deserve better! I mean, it’s certainly a fitting moniker, considering that this band gives about zero fucks about what anyone thinks, but c’mon! Come to think of it, it’s much better than the uninspired band names currently overpopulating the indie rock landscape. At least it’s funny and has some personality! Speaking of personality, Joanna Gruesome has plenty. The opening track, “Last Year,” leads on as the shouty-post-riot-grrrl Sleater Kinney vibe that seems to be so popular at the moment before pulling the rug out and delivering the sweetest, most satisfying hooks I’ve heard all year. It’s a winning formula, and a beautiful juxtaposition that works throughout the record’s brisk 22 minutes. The band’s energy and love for vintage British twee reminds me of my beloved Los Campesinos! but they bring a darker, grungier edge to the table. The result is the most exciting album I’ve heard all year and the CD is going to stay in my car stereo for at least a month and a half.

"Last Year" - The new frontrunner for my favorite song of 2015 by about a mile at this point. If this song doesn't do it for you at least on some tiny level, you have no joy in your heart.

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