|Joanna Gruesome — Peanut Butter
Joanna Gruesome — Peanut Butter
•♦• The Cardiff group bend macho rock tropes with silly solos and sensitive lyrics on their powerful second album.
•♦• Album dosáhlo průměru 72. Nejvýše ho vyhodnotily Record Collector, New Musical Express (NME) a Uncut, vesměs 80. Lehký nadprůměr mu přisoudil magazín Under The Radar, musicOMH.com a Q Magazine: 60. Průměrných 50 mu dává Clash Music.
•♦• Nejvýše ho staví ovšem Rob Taylor ze Soundlab: rovnou 8.5. Peanut Butter je album přetékající s tmavou svítivostí a viscerálním vzrušením.
Location: Cardiff, Wales, UK
Album release: 11 May via Fortuna POP! (UK), Slumberland Records (US, May 19)
Record Label: Fortuna POP! / Slumberland Records
01 Last Year 2:52
02 Jamie (Luvver) 1:41
03 Honestly Do Yr Worst 1:52
04 There Is No Function Stacy 1:58
05 Crayon 3:11
06 I Don´t Wanna Relax 2:15
07 Jerome (Liar) 1:39
08 Separate Bedrooms 2:00
09 Psykick Espionage 2:09
10 Hey! I Wanna Be Yr Best Friend 2:02
•♦• Alanna McArdle (vocals),
•♦• Owen Williams (guitar),
•♦• Max Warren (bass),
•♦• George Nicholls (guitar & organ)
•♦• and David Sandford (drums)
•♦• Due to rising international pressure, Joanna Gruesome’s new album "Peanut Butter" will finally enter the world on 11 May via Fortuna POP! (UK), Slumberland Records (US, May 19) and Turnstile (ROW). Rival groups will be disappointed to learn that the record is a further experiment in combining hyper melodic pop music with sonic violence. Officials have confirmed that the album contains a record number of hooks, traces of nut and elements of jangle pop, British hardcore punk, atonal music, screaming and drone organs. Yet they have issued warnings of "a marriage of radical politics with peanut butter spread". One authorized statement reads: "Weighing in at a concise 25 minutes, the album hurtles through its ten songs, each one a succinct, powerful gem."
•♦• Like their debut "Weird Sister," the new album was recorded by MJ from Hookworms, with the aim of heightening the group's "pop" and "aggressive" elements to excessive and hitherto unrecorded levels. As songwriter Owen Williams explains: "We tried to make it shorter, more economical and attempted to pack as many hooks and screams in as quickly possible in order to avoid short changing the consumer or wasting her/his/their time. Lyrically it’s more obtuse and surreal but also attempts to mock trad masculine rock themes whenever things do get more lucid. But sometimes musically we embrace them by doing embarrassing guitar solos. I'm not sure how much else I'm at liberty to say but one thing I will disclose is that the record is a response to threats posed by rival groups."
•♦• The record has also seen the group explore new and potentially dangerous lyrical territory. Opener "Last Year" is reportedly about experiencing personal tragedy and the occult in a waterpark and a pizza restaurant. Yet "Jamie (Luvver)" is a straightforward pop song about having a crush on someone named Jamie, queer literature and Welsh public transport. These tracks are followed by the incredibly catchy "Honestly Do Yr Worst," a song about espionage, rival groups and the radical possibilities of peanut butter spread. Things become surreal on "There Is No Function Stacy", a song about "someone called Stacy who wrongly believes a party is happening that she’s been invited to. The narrator has to painfully explain to her that there was never a party and she fabricated it all", while on "Crayon" Williams addresses his approach to lyrics directly. " Sometimes you can undermine hetero macho rock shit through nonsense words, obtuse statements, action, melody, sound or aesthetic rather than through traditional lyrics ."
•♦• Speaking confidentially, one official confirms that "The sixth track, "I Don't Wanna Relax," is yet another hookBob Moses — All in All filled potential single. This is swiftly followed by "Jerome (Liar)", a fan favorite based on a subversive folk tale." On "Separate Bedrooms," the group cover a song by Bristol DIY act Black Terror (now performing as "CUP WINNERS' CUP"), a group known for their attention to melody. •♦• The penultimate track is the "crushing, sparkling" "Psykick Espionage," a song about telepathy and the occult in rock’n’roll, and "the first time I ate an avocado." The record is brought to a close by "Hey! I Wanna Be Your Best Friend", a heartwarming number about radical friendship and Thin Lizzy appreciation. Under media interrogation, guitarist George Nicholls confesses to the themes of the record : "It’s about radical politics, fancying people and espionage. The first record was more about violence and revenge fantasy, whereas this one is more about peanut butter."
•♦• Comprised of Alanna McArdle (vocals), Owen Williams (guitar), Max Warren (bass), George Nicholls (guitar & organ) and David Sandford (drums), the band members originally met on a wine tasting holiday. Their debut album "Weird Sister" took the world by storm when it was released in September 2013, and went on to win the 2014 Welsh Music Prize. Overwhelming press support saw glowing, hysterical reviews across the board with particular interest from media outlets 'Pitchfork' and 'the NME.' On the radio their singles have scored a remarkable four out of four on the 'BBC 6 Music playlist' and the band have played sessions for both 'Lauren Laverne' on '6 Music' and for 'Huw Stephens' on 'BBC Radio One'. Since the release of "Weird Sister" the band have been constantly badgered, surfacing from hiding in order to release split singles with Bristol’s Trust Fund and New York’s Perfect Pussy, as well as touring with Los Campesinos!, Speedy Ortiz and Stephen Malkmus. © Photo by Emily Korn
Rob Taylor, Score: 8.5
•♦• I don’t know whether members of Joanna Gruesome really met at an anger management course, as the legend goes, but if so, they channel whatever malevolence they harbor into concise noise–rock nuggets trimmed of pointless social antipathy. No preachy self–referentialism here, just a clipboard of fiery contemporary rants which extinguish after 30 minutes, leaving little to smoulder, helped by the fact that the largely incomprehensible lyrics are buried beneath a peat–bog of guitar fuzz.
•♦• Musically, Peanut Butter is a confluence of dissonance and melodicism. Peanut Butter is also the viscous, oily, messy by–product of a nut hard to crack. The album sure feels like either the exit steps of a successful therapeutic endeavour, or the results of an attic full of musical influences. Or both.
•♦• Singer Alanna’s versatile, occasional yammering indie–punk voice bears many general comparisons and yet no–one specific, the ephemeral riot grrrl yowl tracked all the way back to The Slits and The Runaways. As with all indie–rock, the feministled riot grrrl movement benefited from the subsequent quiet/loud revolution of the late 1980s/1990s; pioneers such as The Breeders and Sleater–Kinney.
•♦• Female singers who adopt the high register as part of their vocal tool–kit have occasionally been blotted with the 'twee’ tag, in most instances a condescending moniker, and like all such derisive terms, it serves to undervalue the music and distract from its wider purpose or intent. Alanna from Joanna Gruesome rarely utilises her higher register but does it to add colour and convey a range of emotion. Nothing twee about that.
•♦• Peanut Butter’s musical confection isn’t all that different from Weird Sister, but the hooks are sharper, and the music knocks louder at your door. JG wants your attention. The abrupt guitar intros to ‘Jamie’, and then ‘Honesty Do Your Worst’ are remarkably similar, the former a more fluid lead in, the latter an exciting prelude to an exquisitely paced indie strummer catchier than the common cold.
•♦• I can almost see Alanna bouncing around on stage, barely able to muster a "thank you" between tracks. Apparently, she used to suffer stage fright, but with this latest cache of tracks, the 30 minute workout will be a feat of body over mind. Literally a PB, when she pulls it off.
•♦• Some might disagree, but there appeared more room between musical phrases on Weird Sister. For instance the screeching guitar on that album’s ‘Graveyard’ was more like a primate’s call to its young, rather than uncomfortable feedback, the stepped–back tempo of ‘Secret Surprise’ more C86 in its deceleration. Peanut Butter is more urgent, one song never more than spitting distance from the next.
•♦• Peanut Butter is an album brimming with dark luminosity and visceral excitement. •♦• http://soundblab.com/
MIKE KATZIF, MAY 03, 201511:03 PM ET
•♦• The story goes that members of Joanna Gruesome first met in 2010 at an anger–management group, and bonded over a mutual love of hardcore and writing songs as musical therapy. Whether fact or a myth that's grown in the telling, it's an origin perfectly matched to the Cardiff band's biting, bittersweet songs. Punk is about ratcheting up tension, whether through cranked–up amps and explosive drumming or howling above the fray. That's one side to Joanna Gruesome's fast and fuzzy music, but the band is just as adept at offsetting dissonance with tender, wistful pop melodies as a song reaches its breaking point. It's the sound of pent–up angst unleashed, only to uncover the pain and heartache at its core.
•♦• Led by singer Alanna McArdle and guitarist Owen Williams — alongside bassist Max Warren, guitarist George Nicholls and drummer David Sandford — Joanna Gruesome first caught attention for its punny name, which references a certain harp–playing songwriter. But thanks to its grungy 2013 debut (Weird Sister) and brash live performances, Joanna Gruesome has quickly become one of the U.K.'s most exciting bands, while maintaining a potent work ethic that defines its music.
•♦• With its follow–up, Peanut Butter, Joanna Gruesome refrains from tweaking its own formula too much, instead dispensing more of what we've come to expect, but doing it better: Recorded with Hookworms frontman MJ, the band sounds tighter and more dynamic, with catchier choruses and more assured singing. Peanut Butter's 10 songs clock in at only 22 minutes — about seven minutes shorter than its predecessor — but the band crams just as much energy and depth into a more compact and vital package.
•♦• Right from the jump, "Last Year" opens with a burst of feedback as McArdle shouts a string of grievances, chanting "I will not!" in her best hardcore voice. Then, Williams' and Nicholls' thick, chugging guitars give way to dreamy pop, helping to lift McArdle's vocals above the static that surrounds her. That heavy–turned–hooky template is a constant throughout Peanut Butter — from the scorched guitars of "Psykick Espionage" to the jangle of "There Is No Function Stacy."
•♦• Lyrically, McArdle and Williams write sparsely, often playing with surrealism ("A sonic question, a liner shore / Crayon aquatic, the manager's eyes," from "Crayon") or with humor ("They all write about you like you're a monkey playing a tuba," from "There Is No Function Stacy"). Joanna Gruesome's true strength, however, is its hyper–specificity — telling personal stories through snippets of conversations and inner monologues ("I Don't Wanna Relax"), calling out exes ("Jerome [Liar]") and painting quiet moments that feel real. When singing in unison, almost as one voice, McArdle and Williams' words tend to shift points of view: "I've got to change my ways, I know, right / I've got to tell you truly, I like you / Plus I wanna walk there with you, boy," they both sing in the pining "Jamie (Luvver)."
•♦• Those details help Joanna Gruesome depict themes of fading love, exasperation and an inability to connect: "You only say you want me when you're tired in your room" ("I Don't Wanna Relax"), or "Bite through every part / Are you gonna chew till you reach the heart?" ("Honestly Do Yr Worst"). Elsewhere, in "Separate Bedrooms" (a cover of a song by Black Terror), Joanna Gruesome reflects on an eroding relationship, or a friendship that could evolve into something romantic yet remains unrequited: "I know trying to make you fall in love is something I should not do / Maybe part of the reason this is easy is knowing I can't have you," they sing, before the song's final refrain: "I know that life would be all right if I hadn't met you / We could spend every single night in separate bedrooms." When set against a flurry of distorted guitars and volatile noise, the vulnerability in their voices carries weight, demonstrating Joanna Gruesome's considerable gift for balancing sweetness and chaos. •♦• http://www.npr.org/
By Laura Snapes, April 30, 2015; Score: 8/10
•♦• Cracking open Joanna Gruesome’s second album with a squall and a scream, 'Last Year' has singer Alanna McArdle repeatedly yelling, "I will not" and threatening to crush some coward’s skull. But the relationship in question swiftly goes from skull–crushing to pussyfooting (“I say nothing and you sleep in the day”), and a willingness to tolerate a bad relationship rather than risk loneliness.
•♦• ‘Peanut Butter’’s first six songs are rife with such indecision: lyrics about direction and commitment (‘Crayon’), and the inability to feel comfortable in relationships (‘Honestly Do Yr Worst’), are either screamed, or cooed with the bored remove of someone desensitised to emotional violence. But this doubt isn’t weakness. •♦• Within these songs, McArdle sings honestly about the way mental health influences simple personal interactions. “I’m sick, I’m weird”, she admits on ‘I Don’t Wanna Relax’, which counterbalances her lyrical unease with the first of several rapturously silly cock–rock guitar solos on the album. On the muted grunge of 'There Is No Function Stacy’, she highlights the way anyone who exists outside perceived social norms is viewed as “some variety of space alien”.
•♦• This sensitivity to the nuances of relationships is a crucial development for Joanna Gruesome and the way their music veers between compassion and rage, an exhilarating dynamic they’ve brought into piercing focus on ‘Peanut Butter’. 2013 debut ‘Weird Sister’ was fuelled by revenge fantasies; here, the five–piece — who, despite being based in different parts of the UK, still call Cardiff their home — channel their own power. McArdle’s every scream is a sharp shock, while Owen Williams and George Nicholls’ guitars play triumphant and tender. ‘Peanut Butter’ does more in 22 minutes than most albums do in 40.
•♦• The subject matter of the final four songs matches the music’s unyielding directness: calmly accepting that a relationship is futile (‘Separate Bedrooms’) and calling out mind–games with dizzy rage (‘Jerome (Liar)’, ‘Psykick Espionage’). In context, closer ‘Hey I Wanna Be Yr Best Friend’ becomes a radically straightforward declaration where McArdle and Williams harmonise over a calm pulse before another brief pomp–rocking solo — a comic moment that works at the expense of their own sensitivity. ‘Peanut Butter’ sees Joanna Gruesome relishing the power of refusal, bending the tropes of macho rock and relationships to their own twisted whims.
|Joanna Gruesome — Peanut Butter