Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Album Review: Suck by The Johnstones

Walking home from the train station Friday night I was listening to The Bennies Rainbows In Space album I was thinking about the last time I got as excited about a ska punk album before this one. That would be back in 2012 when Canadian band The Johnstones released their third album Suck. Sure they’re have been some great ska punk albums released since then like The JB Conspiracy’s The Storm and Less Than Jakes See The Light but none caught by attention like The Johnstones Suck.

I feel I should talk about my history with The Johnstones before I go any further. I first discovered them around 2008 after randomly finding the video for Gone For A Long Time on YouTube. I instantly fell in love with them; this was the fast, fun, danceable ska punk that I adored. I quickly got their debut album Word Is Bond and listened to it constantly. I then did the same with their newly released EP Sex and a year later when they released their second full length Can’t be Trusted. For me everything they released was golden. I loved this band so much I even named my work football team after a lyric from one of their songs. This Ones For All The Ladies FC was never a force to be reckoned with in the football world but we did have an amusing team name. My love for The Johnstones became a slight obsession in 2010. That summer I managed to break my leg playing football and was off work for ten weeks. Around that time the band released their live DVD Get On Board, I must have watched that DVD at least thirty times during the time I was off of work and listened to one of their albums every single day. I just couldn’t get enough of this band. After that release it was a quiet couple of years for The Johnstones until they finally released Suck towards the end of 2012. Here is a review of it.

When I first got the Suck I wondered which Johnstones I would be listening to. Would it be a more Word Is Bond style Johnstones with its fast, raw ska punk sound or would it be like the more poppy and catchy as anything sounding Can’t Be Trusted? That question was answered very quickly. Opening track Bad, Bad Dream showcases the sound of Suck brilliantly, combining my favourite elements of both previous albums. The dual lead vocals of Ryan Long and Jarek Hardy have always been a strong weapon in The Johnstones arsenal. Long’s gravelly style works brilliantly with Hardy’s more clean cut sound.

Track two, The Wanderer sees The Johnstones go to a more punk rock sound that they haven’t previously done much on their previous word. The dual vocals on this help keep the energy up and make it feel like a party. They follow this up with the slower paced Jennifer’s Jacket. Long’s voice is perfect as he croons the opening first before both he and Hardy rap a verse each between another catchy chorus.

Following this is the poppy ska sounding The Ocean. This song is hugely danceable, listening to it as I write I find myself wanting to have a skank. This is the first song on suck to really show off The Johnstones excellent horn section with Julian Warme on trombone and Rene Gillezeau on trumpet. Both are both incredible at their instruments. Track six is called Mic In Hand. This song is about shunning education in favour of joining a band and saying the conventional education route isn’t for everyone. The theme of being in a band continues in the next song – Million Dollars. In this Long and Hardy sing about how they would rather have the experiences they made from being in a band than being rich. The Johnstones have certainly had some experiences in their career, including getting banned from Disney World and having the Millwall firm after them. Million Dollars is another seriously catchy song.

Track number seven is a mid tempo pop song named SOS. This song questions who will save them when they get older after all of their notorious partying. The dual vocals keep the listener hooked as both singers confess to some of their actions.

Up next Rene Gillezeau get’s to take centre stage on the song Mr. Gillezeau’s Opus. The Johnstones resident MC “spits rhymes” on easier the most aggressive song they have ever written. A fun fact about this song is that when The Johnstones went to release Suck they were told they had to change the some of the lyrics to this song as they were too offensive.

After this aggression The Johnstones return to the ska sound on These Are The Times. Long, Hardy and Gillezeau all take turns on verses on this song, Long and Hardy singing there’s whilst Gillezeau raps his. The rap thrown in halfway through the songs really gives the song a burst of energy. The song itself is about living life in the moment and trying to make as many memories as you can. This is followed up by my favourite song on the album, Live Forever. This fast packed ska punk anthem is about the band keep on going even when it’s not successful anymore because it’s what they love. The vocals appear to come from all angles on this song and again make it feel like a party. Warme’s keys are also outstanding on this song.

The penultimate song Come Out Me Tonight (previously titled Let’s Get Fucked Up Tonight) is rockier sounding song about going out and getting very very drunk. Hardys vocals come into their own on this song as he sings about his excitement for the night ahead. The final song on the album always puts a big smile on my face. It’s a cover of the Kylie Minogue hit Locomotion. Imagine you’re at a party, everyone has had an amazing time and the night is winding down, everyone wants a sing along to end the night. The Locomotion is the perfect song for that; it’s a fun song that everyone knows the words to. This is why it’s a brilliant way for The Johnstones to finish Suck with. The whole album is a party, and it’s great to finish it with a fun sing along that get’s people smiling.

Suck really is a brilliant album. Like I said it combined the raw, fast paced ska punk from Word Is Bond and the catch pop from Can’t Be Trusted. After the first listen I pretty much knew the words for every chorus, a testament of some great song writing. I really hope The Johnstones do Live Forever.

Check out The Johnstones here: http://www.thejohnstonessuck.com/

Now listening to Tonight by The Johnstones

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