Recently the organisers of the Manchfester all-dayer announced a new set of bands that will be playing the show. One that caught my attention was a band named Stay Clean Jolene as I'd never heard of them before but their name really stood out to me. Then, a few days later, a man named John Dagger messaged me asking if I would like to review his band's latest album. Of course I said yes, I always say yes, I can't help but say yes. And what's the name of John Daggers band I hear you ask? Stay Clean Jolene, of course! I checked out their self-titled album,whichwas released in April of last year.
The first song on the album is called Concrete Block and shows Stay Clean Jolene's sound to be a gruff, melodic, punk rock. Straight away this is the excellent, catchy, fist in the air style of punk rock that is hugely popular right now; the same can be said about the second song, Heads & Breakables. I really enjoyed the lead singer’s vocal style, it's not a massive shouty growl like you frequently hear from other bands in this genre; it's a more restrained style, passionate but still controlled. I'm always a fan of a good breakdown and Heads & Breakables has one, it's only a few seconds long but leads brilliantly into a big final chorus. The guitars at the beginning of Miles Apart start at a great tempo and really energised me. Thissong is about always being there for your loved ones despite the distance between you. Friendship and togetherness are big themes in the punk scene and it is also what helps it survive, so it's great to hear a band singing about them. Green is a more mid-tempo paced song. It’s about getting past the past and it not mattering anymore. The sound of the song is definitely more mature than a lot of other music in the scene right now and I can see the oldies in the scene enjoying this album as much as the youngsters. One Hundred is one of my favourites on the record. I really loved the guitar riff at the beginning of the song before the vocals begin. The vocals carry the melody of the track allowing each other member of the band to show off their musical chops throughout the song.
The sixth song is one of the faster paced tracks on the album, with the vocals in full-on Chris Wollard mode. This song is about the memories you get from music and how hearing a certain song can take you back to a moment in your life - sort of like a time machine. All I Need is a song about religion. Stay Clean Jolene sing about it being okay to believe whatever you want but not forcing your views on others, an idea I am completely on board with. I really like that the final lines "All I Need Is Here" say you don't need to believe in a higher being, everything you ever need is right here. Song number eight is called Record and is another big sing-a-long jam. The chorus of "You Want It All, Don't Let Them Take What You Believe, You've Got No Control, Just Credit, This Last Parade, Your Jubilee" is another really good, fists in the air, shout along with the band moment that will be in your head for days. Such a great hook! The ninth and penultimate song on Stay Clean Jolene is called Easy Target and to be me feels like a real grown-up punk rocker summer anthem. There's a real feel good factor in the tone of the song, it allows the band to show off some more of theirsuperb musicianship and there is a excellent key change during the song that really brings the song alive. The final track on the album is called Replica and is my absolute favourite. I think it's a song about the London riots from 2011 and how many people took it as a reason to just be a thug rather than protest something that they truly believe in. I could however be completely wrong. The final section of this song is one of the best bits of songwriting I've heard in a while. It's a big finale with some excellent harmonies that give the song a real anthemic feeling. Great stuff.
Stay Clean Jolene’s self titled album is an absolute masterclass in the genre of grown up punk rock. How this band stayed under my radar for so long is a complete mystery because this is first class stuff and I’m now really looking forward to seeing them at Manchfester.
Stream and buy Stay Clean Jolene here: https://staycleanjolene.bandcamp.com/
Like Stay Clean Jolene here: https://www.facebook.com/staycleanjolene