Friday, January 20, 2012
Johnny ILL Band on X! Records
3 dudes from Detroit decided Johnny Ill needed a band for his no-wave punk 4-track recordings and ended up with this third single on X! Records.
A-Side's "In the wintertime" couldn't have come across my desk at a more perfect time. It has to be dumb luck that this was pressed in time for the freezing going on today. They're reading everyone's mind here with a Detroit slant, the lackadaisical sound usually associated with the West Coast and groups like Nodzzz or the Fresh and Onlys took a scuzzy garage turn when talking about the pure damn cold, and how all everyone does is talk about the cold. The track starts with a reverse tape rewind, the reels flying backwards for a second. Johnny's vocals are up front with a little distortion, close, and unfiltered in your face about the many shitty things about the winter, and I can't disagree with a single one. There's even a classic break where the vocals are out there all by themselves at the beginning of a verse and then the whole thing explodes, like Wounded Lion, the band is filling out this sound in the drunken party style that was almost handcrafted for these guys.
I Don't Wanna Smoke Marijuana = In the Wintertime. All people want to do is drink some tea.
Here's the idea, a couple obvious straightforward observations, a shit stomping jangly electric, kick drum 4/4 beat. A tiny xylophone beats away in the background keeping the whole thing light. The layered backup vocal is that great kind of unprofessional. It's earnestly trying to match a clunky harmony. Sloppy organ, I like your attitude boys. You won me over pretty much right away.
The sloppy pen notebook drawings on the front of the sleeve, the weird caricatures on the reverse, dripping with sincerity, goofy as hell, they'd probably buy you a drink after their show. They have a kidnap van that says "Mylie Syrus concert shuttle" scrawled on the side it. It's effortless punk, except punk sounds like too much work, I'd just be worried at X! that these guys are going to get high all day and smoke the records.
Every 7" single could benefit from having a portrait of the recording engineer on the inner label by the way.
The B-Side, "Matt Larson" is in the band, this is just such balls, so over the top ridiculous that if I was ever out, I'm in again. Matt sounds smart, he went to college. There's a bunch of other stuff about him. I appreciate their Dead Milkmen style of storytelling. These mundane details over a stuttered devo kind of spazz lockstep rhythm. Putzy solo, a few notes repeated, stiff armed, with a tongue hanging out. Great great great.
"Dan Braun" is another dude, not in the band, but I get that he hates everything, especially these guys, and they hate the shit out of him. HE sounds like the worst. I actually cracked up about the way he smokes a pack a day. It's so funny, I forget about the music. I want my friend to hear the lyrics. Did you catch that?
Fade out 4-track demo acoustic line, which is also gold. Consider this a perfect release.
Extra points for having a really nice website with virtually nothing on it. They got that about that far and then went to someone's house to jam and got drunk again. Also I hope the 'tabs' section is going to be ascii tabs of these tracks so I can play along.
Definitely looking up this full length, like Natural Child, minus the southern sleeze.
A reason why we need labels like X!, who have their shit together, or Almost Ready because you know Liquor Store can't even be bothered to DIY, that's what makes them great, don't mellow out their buzz with pressing details and color separation and sales and shit.
Get it from X!, who know a good thing when they hear it. Thankfully there's more from this label coming up which I have high hopes for, and for that matter, a full length from Johnny Ill.