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Johnny Foreigner

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    Johnny Foreigner

    Waited Up Til It Was Light ( 2008 )
    Lea Room / Our Bipolar Friends / Eyes Wide Terrified / Cranes and Cranes and Cranes and Cranes / The End and Everything After / Hennings Favourite / Salt, Pepper and Spindarella / Yes! You Talk Fast / DJís Get Doubts / Sometimes, in the Bullring / Yr All Just Jealous / Absolute Balance / The Hidden Song at the End of the Record

    Twin vocalists, one male and one female. Thrashing and messy drums, actually damn good drums. Bass and guitar constantly in a rush, eschewing perfection for energy and feel. Melody lines often obtuse and so much in a rush that the songs don't sink in straight away. Lying underneath is a band with a way of create sparkling melodies, Johnny Foreigner. That said, melodies are often buried beneath thrilling playing doesn't result in failure - it works. 'Waited Up Til It Was Light' manages somehow then to be one of the finest new alternative guitar debut LPs of recent years with a good strike rate in terms of consistency. Johnny Foreigner are not yet the most diverse act around, although the couple of changes of atmosphere that do exist are just enough to give your kids a treat.

    Not only are Johnny Foreigner good and exciting, but they're also somehow genuinely moving. Well, 'Our Bipolar Friends' mentions the word Ninja worryingly early on in the song but soon gets better, a misleading intro giving way to excellently dishevelled guitar music. Lyrically, Johnny Foreigner also manage to avoid trotting out the same cliches as everybody else. Songs have catchphrases in them rather than choruses as such, and this works. 'Eyes Wide Terrified' is a frankly brilliant example of what Johnny Foreigner can do, moving from noisy to soft sections, 'your life is a song, but not this one' they say. Around the two-minute fifty mark the bass player proves she can really play as the other guitars disappear. Hand-claps join in, a repeated section of 'your life is a song...' before the guitars come back in.

    The highlight of the songs that do not fall over each other in a rash? Well, 'Salt, Pepper And Spindarella' is the one - riding along on a soft electro pulse-beat with the vocalists creating the hooks. The highlight of the noisy songs is the magnificent 'The End And Everything After', a song previously issued on one of Johnny Foreigner's first few EPs. Johnny Foreigner create proper indie then, music your mother won't actually like, and that's how it should be.

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    Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything ( 2011 )
    if im the most famous boy youíve fucked then honey yr in trouble / with who, who and what iíve got / 200x / hulk hoegaarden, gin kinsella, david duvodkany, etc 1 / johnny foreigner vs you / concret 1 / electricity vs the dead / jess, you got yr song so leave / supermorning / what drummers get / new street, you can take it / concret2 / (donít) show us your fangs / you vs everything / doesnít believe in angels / the swell _ like neverwhere / alternate timelines piling up

    Johnny Foreigner from England's second city Birmingham release their third album, ambitiously titled 'Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything'. Since this listener last paid any real attention to them, their sound has developed subtly rather than radically. They sound tighter as a group of musicians and the music ever so slightly more varied, which makes for a satisfying album listen. Lyrically the album explorers alternate universes (have they been watching the last couple of years of Doctor Who?) and remains as obtusely awkward and proudly alternative as ever. In England, coming from Birmingham doesn't really earn you a seal of 'cool approval' from the largely London oriented music press and Johnny Foreigner have hoped around labels and PR companies and now release 'Vs Everything' on Alcopop records, a label John Peel listeners will be familiar with, and I can't help escape the feeling the late, lamented John Peel would have quite enjoyed Johnny Foreigner. Johnny Foreigner make anxiously broken, exuberant and outrageously ugly music at times. The guitars bend and rush along, the bass is frantic and full and the drums lively and fractured. The co-vocalists (male/female) sing in a sometimes squeaky fashion, yet generally suit the style of music Johnny Foreigner produce. The 7th song in 'Electricity Vs The Dead' really jumps out at me and whilst I'm not sure who the bass player is, she's gotten better over the years producing solid and technically impressive lines.

    'Johnny Foreigner Vs You' is atypical for them in that it seems to be a Piano ballad accompanied by tender and harmonising male and female lead vocals - very lovely it is too as the sort of welcome interlude they've rarely produced before as a group. 'You Vs Everything' (spot a pattern emerging?) is rushed drums, guitar squeals, yet more impressive bass playing and hidden amongst the deliberately placed debris are approachable melodies - they don't do squall and mess for the sake of it, they are like a group of painters seemingly randomly throwing paint at the canvas and wildly taking a large brush and broadly sweeping across the more finely drawn patterns. 'The Swell_Like Neverwhere' is an impressive six minutes of Johnny Foreigner stretching their formula and being more ambitious than before, whilst at the time time writing stronger melodies. I'm not sure why I've rank 'Vs Everything' a touch lower than their debut, apart from the fact that arguably at fifty-six minutes it's a bit too much to take in all at once, which is still my preferred method of listening to an album - itunes be damned!

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    this page last updated 09/10/11

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