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JOANNA GRUESOME

Joanna Gruesome / Trust Fund

Split

    Well everyone knows Joanna Gruesome now. Pitchfork calls them 'deeply passionate, impossibly noisy', AllMusic went for 'breath-catchingly exciting and hearwarmingly pretty', and Rolling Stone says they 'play their hearts out', but we just think they're cool people making cool sounds and fighting the good fight. And we're proud to be associated with them. Plus they wore a Tunabunny shirt at CMJ last fall, so they're obviously after HHBTM's hearts. Anyway, when they told the label they had some creative spillover, too many ideas to be contained by the album-every-two-years treadmill, HHBTM decided to team up with the UK based label Reeks of Effort (which is run by Max Warren of Joanna Gruesome) and their band Trust Fund to do a split 12" (sadly for promo purposes Trust Fund's a band name and not a bank account, but at the same time the band's priceless so whatever).

    The record sees the Gruesomes (as they're affectionately known by their massive legion of Japanese fans) stretching out sonically and emotionally. 'Coffee Implosion' opens with the Big Black like abrasiveness before sweetly stomping all over the room. And 'Satan (Desire Edition)' an alternate version of their album closer could fill a cathedral with it's spiritual emptiness. If you have even a passing interest in Joanna Gruesome you're going to need to grab this 12" while it's still available. Trust Fund isn't nearly as well known, for now. But these kids bring all kinds of Flying Nun-ish mid-fi guitar pop with hints of bands like Swearin', Sourpatch, and Big Soda seeping through. Those other guys have the sounds, but Trust Fund has the songs. The end of 'Reading the Wrappers' walks it home as good as any of their heroes ever did. Or yours for that matter. So yeah HHBTM165. Joanna Gruesome & Trust Fund. Together forever like a dreaming Rick Astley, never to part and don't you know we would move heaven and earth.

    Rival groups will be disappointed to learn that this 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 authorised statement reads: “Weighing in at a concise 25 minutes, the album hurtles through its ten songs, each one a succinct, powerful gem.”

    The album was recorded by MJ from Hookworms, with the aim of heightening the group's "pop" & "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 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. Speaking confidentially, one official confirms that “The sixth track, I Don't Wanna Relax, is yet another hook-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). Their debut album Weird Sister took the world by storm when it was released in 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'. 

    Thrilling Cardiff-based noisepop five-piece Joanna Gruesome will be releasing their terrific debut album Weird Sister via Fortuna POP! (Europe) and Slumberland (USA) in September.

    Brimming with irresistible pop melodies and spiked with dissonant fuzzy jangle, their songs are shot through with loud discordant feedback and super-fast, hardcore punk drumbeats. This album sees their first foray away from recording in a living room to a proper studio under the guidance of producer MJ of the much lauded Hookworms. Kicking it against sexism and homophobia, nothing is off-limits, drawing inspiration from DIY scenes such as Riot Grrrl/noisepop/C86 /K-Records as well as post hardcore like Drive Like Jehu/Converge and the art rock of The Velvet Underground and My Bloody Valentine, Joanna Gruesome offer a staggeringly diverse album, unexpectedly quiet and surprisingly loud.

    Joanna Gruesome comprise Alanna on vocals, Owen on guitar, Max on bass, George on guitar and Dave on drums. They all met in an anger management counselling group. During the course they were told that writing, making music, dancing or painting could relieve tension and help reduce feelings of anger. One initiative involved a project where they were assigned a group to compose and perform a song in front of other members. Initially they found each other infuriating but gradually acknowledged their musical chemistry and decided to continue with the band outside the therapy group. Most of the album was written during a month long stay in a seedy west Brighton hotel (now closed down) called The Hell House. The residents were pretty strange, kept attempting occult rituals/using Ouija boards etc and many of the songs were written to distract from the weirdness.

    Heartwrenching and exhilarating in equal measure, these are not cheerful songs. Awash with nods to mental illness and the dark recesses of the mind, the record is littered with references to the devil or zombies and allusions to comic books. “Secret Surprise”, in which mental illness takes a physical form and is fought using razor blades. Or “Anti-Parent Cowboy Killers”, which is about stealing a scooter and driving it into the ocean when you should be in school LEARNING. Or “Sugarcrush”, about spending a summer burning knitwear. They have built-up a phenomenal live reputation, blending obnoxiously loud guitars and the occasional band uniform, with a high energy performance dispersed with quieter reflection, boy/girl vocals and teenage angst.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Ryan says: An incredible debut from Cardiff based Joanna Gruesome. Fantastic indie-pop full of hooks and tucked away in there is everything you need from fuzzy pop melodies to hardcore blastbeats.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: Red and Black haze vinyl.

    LP includes MP3 Download Code.


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