Thursday, October 10, 2013

Joanna Gruesome

For many years now we have been listening to a torrent of 80’s-inspired bands, heavy on the synth sounds. There have been good and bad bands who fit this description, but they just keep coming. And that’s fine, I enjoy a number of these bands, but since my nostalgic loyalties lie more with the early 90’s than the 80’s, I have been waiting and wondering where the 90’s-inspired bands are. Sure, there have been a few here and there, but so far there’s not been a true new alt-indiepop wave.

The release of Joanna Gruesome’s debut, Weird Sister, might not be a sign of things to come, but it is at the very least a great sign for those of us who are waiting for the second coming of tweepop (a term I use with the utmost love). Most of what fans of genre look for is there: smart lyrics, fun melodies, clever wordplay, and delightful boy/girl vocals, all this accompanied by loud, overdriven guitars. The guitars might just be my favorite thing about this record. It's great to hear a new band who's proud of doing guitar-driven music. This is the kind of record that reminds you that pop songs that invite you to sing along don’t necessarily have to be overproduced crap.

And good pop music is what this quintet from Wales is all about. The record brings 10 songs, all expertly crafted pop numbers graced with cleverness and some very inspired touches. Though the indiepop influence seems to be heavy here (the band mentions they started out playing Field Mice covers), there are nods to bands like Sonic Youth here and there. The lyrics are also a bit darker than what you’d expect from most indiepop bands of yore.

In the end, however, Joanna Gruesome is very much their own band, and deserve to be appreciated in their own terms. Like the best pop music, it compels you to listen to it over and over again, and still makes you think about it afterwards. It’s definitely one of my favorite records of the year, and it might be one of yours, too.

Now, as for the band’s name: yes, it is a play on Joanna Newsom. No, that is not that clever. Yes, it bothered me at first, too. But you really forget all about it as soon as the record starts spinning. It’s that good.

Go listen to Joanna Gruesome – Weird Sister on Spotify now!

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