Friday, February 24, 2012
The Johnny Ill Band on Italy records
When I caught these guys a few weeks back at Moon II, Johnny happened to have both of their previous singles with them, including this one on Italy Records, my crack research team was unable to find a discography but I'm guessing this was an early one from the rough garage fuzz covering this one, three tracks at 33 1/3 becuase you shouldn't rush Johnny, it's not a god damn race.
What we have on the A-Side, "Cars" is a more distorted, raw sounding JIB, almost psych haze layered feel with this big swirly guitar, Johnny is probably straight strumming away under this improv feedback. This chorus really gets sci-fi thanks to Pete and that Moog pitch wheel, with Johnny is deadpanning this vocal about cars.
Which reminds me of that Sidewalks single by Tyvek, in a couple of ways, this is dabbling in that same sound, Tyvek is probably a little more extreme in their scuzz, and the lyrics are way more buried, but not by much. And if you get down to the vocal, it's basically the same kind of delivery and even lyric. Tyvek is wondering about engineering a sidewalk and people walking around and here JIB is taking that same no bullshit approach to cars.
There is a huge conspiracy guys, these cars that everyone have... they're straight up killing people...now it's either that Johnny's talking about literally getting hit by them or just all the auxillary things that cars bring to society...you know the wars, the pollution. I wouldn't think that this has anything to do with their Detroit roots per se but then Italy Records put out those early White Stripes singles, which leads to "The Big Three Killed my Baby", so from the outside, those sorts of ideas might just be added to the water supply.
This chorus vocal is chopped into syllables connecting on the fast snare beat...there's that cool detached style of The Soft Pack, but still feeling like kind of a nerdy younger brother...they aren't going to ditch you somewhere after the show, they manage to keep things informal and just plain fun in spite of the inherent seriousness surrounding music, the kind of thing that comes with the business side of things, worried about the proper B-Side remixes and pitchfork coverage.
The B-Side, "Amphetamines" track is surprisingly slow, even for these guys, and especially for a song about speed...this must be on the downer side of the high. This one kind of erring on the punkier side of things, a little bit sloppy in that way that doesn't sound restrictively rehearsed with a warble of big synth bass tones. But hey...just because a song title is abut speed doesn't mean you have to go and obviously represent it in a song. It's going to be about someone who is on amphetamines. So they get this slower nervous kind of energy going, that paranoia, with deliberate, plucked chords, marionetted together and stiff. A rolling see saw rhythm, a single clink from a triangle ... in the end he always sounds hopeful, in spite of this unemotional delivery...there's no fucked up judgements or politics here, just calling it like he sees it.
"Tv Psychic" then, keeps Johnny's distant distorted vocal going, that shitty speaker coming off as more garage-y than usual.
When will the TV let you be psychic too? This time getting a little more abstract with what exactly he's talking about, almost back on Side A in a more pop psych land, with a nu wave stuttering....damn this could be a demo Devo track even, the back and forth clink of guitar sounds, a deliberate lockstep single note melody.
I really can't recommend that full length on Urinal Cake Records enough, still great weeks later, and you only have to flip it over like once every ten minutes.
Secret message in the gutter on this black vinyl, hand colored cars on the front of the sleeve! From Italy Records....$5 Bucks!