You Can Do Better – (Guest post by Jake)

You may remember Jake, who used to write for us. Well while he may have moved on to bigger and better things, when he heard the new Johnny Foreigner album, he just had to tell the world what he thought. So here is his review.

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On March 10th 2013, my favourite band dropped their most anticipated album. I had waited for that day for months, all things considered I had ordered a massive bundle from them that included the album, a poster, a shirt, and a wristband. I wasn’t disappointed when the day came that they arrived. In fact, I was so excited that I was checking my mailbox days in advance just in case it came in early. This album has now become the most listened to audio collection I’ve ever obtained, it only took a month to surpass albums I’ve listened to for years. Now begins a song by song analysis of this diamond of an album.
YOU CAN DO BETTER

Johnny-Foreigner

Track 1
Shipping

I mean, holy christ; what a way to introduce an album. Loud, fast, cool phasery sounding drums; you’re engaged right from note one. Wait though, we calm down for a second. Some lovely vocals kick in, sweet to the ears. Twinkling melodies come through one speaker, whilst smooth chords strum out of the other. Bang, solitary drinking brings you back to square one. Loud again, this time with the same sweet vocals from before. This song is such a roller coaster, up and down and up and down. I feel a connection to this one, and most people will; I mean who hasn’t drank alone before. It’s beautiful, and compared to old material from these guys; I think the addition of new but not so new guitar by Lewes totally makes it (for those who don’t know, Lewes has done art and toured with JoFo for quite some time; but has never been on a studio album. UNTIL NOW). Love it as an opener.

Track 2
Le Sigh

I’m a sucker for songs that have little pauses in the music, I always just find them really well written. It takes a lot to think of how everything will sound when you weave in those breaks, but hey; these folks nailed it. I get a real “The End and Everything After” vibe with this song and it’s nice, like a brief nostalgia trip to a time 6 years ago (that long ago? Holy shit). Johnny Foreigner also has this really cool way of writing very specific references into their songs, but still managing to make them relatable to whomever is listening. I’ve never been out of North America in my lifetime and Solihull is just a name of a city to me, but I still feel like I “get” the reference. I think it has to do with the just vague enough phrasing that allows you to cut and paste the subject matter on to insert shitty town name here, and that’s fucking genius. Also the melodies and chord structures are incredible, please teach me how to write like that. YEAH!

Track 3
In Capitals

More of this awesome melodic stuff that makes me cry because I’ll never be this good. I also have to give a nod to Mr. Junior Laidley because I genuinely don’t think I’ve heard a drummer as talented as him, like sure Neil Peart and John Bonham can do all the fast stuff but to me that’s just basic work made quick. A real talented drummer can make a song happen with fills here there and everywhere, Junior smashes this idea with perfectly tossed in fills while still keeping the basic beats super tight. It consistently blows me away. My favourite part of this song is how there is quite a lot going on in terms of sound, but it never seems cluttered. There’s always the distinct melodies, the rhythm isn’t drowned out by them, the drums don’t overpower, the vocals aren’t jarring; it’s perfect music. Blended together while still managing to have every member shine. Beautiful.

Track 4
Riff Glitchard

“HEY, THESE GUYS HAVE A GIRL IN THE BAND; HOW GIMMICKY. EVERYONE KNOWS THEY DO IT FOR THE EDGE IN THE UNDERGROUND SCENE. FEMALE FRONTED BANDS GET ALL THE ATTENTION. WAH.” – every dipshit band member coming up with excuses as to why their band sucks and can never get shows. Stop being a dumbass and don’t call them a “Female fronted band”, a band is a band is a band; regardless of who is in it. Mini shouting over. Kelly Southern, how the heck can I describe you? Your voice is so sweet to hear, it’s like just really pleasant; but it’s versatile. How someone can be so gentle sounding and then scream in my face and then be gentle again, it’s scary. I feel like I’m in an abusive relationship with you, and it rocks. So hard. This song utilizes the amazing musical device of quiet twinkly guitars, lovely vocals, and subtle drums into a build up of full sound. Break it down into feedback squeaking underneath a chord, then whammo; it’s huge. Wicked use of dynamics for a great song.

Steve Gerrard Photography

Track 5
The Last Queens of Scotland

We’re halfway through the adventure and I’m already getting sad, I never want it to end. I need it to be infinite. Just as I’m thinking about needs, a song about needs. You guys totally planned this, I know you did. It’s too perfectly timed. More about the actual song though, the guitar melodies in the first minute are really smooth and appealing. Actually I think that can be said for the whole song, just really smooth and appealing. It’s not a song about aggressive things and it shows, the song flows very cohesively into and out of the verses and choruses; it’s a song you can put on in the background and not really notice until it’s over, then you’ll re-listen. I like it’s placement, I like the way it sounds. Overall: still nailing it with this album.

Track 6
Stop Talking About Ghosts

I had to laugh when I read the title of this song; if you know anything about Johnny Foreigner you’ll know they have a penchant for ghosts and ghost related things, so it’s funny to see them reference that. It’s a song about losing things, maybe losing yourself; which is fitting given the title. To them, talking about ghosts is who they are; and it’s really fucking hard to let go. You feel the loss, you feel the sorrow; but you also feel the freshness of a new beginning, the hope of unknown adventures. For a song about letting go, (which I generally think are overdone) I felt it. I felt it the whole way through. A+.

Track 7
WiFi Beach

I’m apprehensive about songs involving beaches; how many times I see social media updates including quotes about the ocean, or photos of some conceited twat looking out to the sea with the caption “Yesterday you said tomorrow”. It’s maddening, it’s again overdone, it’s just plain booooooring. To be completely honest, I read the lyrics of this song and rolled my eyes. “Greeeat, some sentimental bullshit about a person you wish you could be with; but can’t. Snore.” Well JoFo, thanks for making me feel like a cynical asshole; you proved me wrong. This song had everything going against it in my eyes, and I loved it. In fact I’m inclined to say it’s my favourite one on the album. It’s dreamy sounding, not too in your face; but just loud enough to get it out of that realm of sappy ballad nonsense. The song is nice, but not dripping with syrupy stickiness that some somber songs do. It proved me wrong in the best way, so hats off to JoFo; you made me love a song about a beach.

Track 8
To The Death

You can taste some bitterness in this one, in fact you can taste a little bitterness in the whole album. They sound like they’re angry at something, I just don’t know what. This one is cleverly named, and cleverly written; sarcastic comments and little digs at someone or something that didn’t quite work out as planned. TO THE DEATH, right? They didn’t beat this one over the head, which I’d imagine would be a bit challenging to do given the circumstance presented. Again, there’s hope in there somewhere; like a “It’s time to get over this” motivational speech that isn’t going quite as well as expected. It’s another somber one, but presented without that whiny tone that a lot of sadder songs have. Overall; well written lyrically and musically. (Oh no! We’re almost done!)

Track 9
Le Schwing

The penultimate song on the album and they want to go out with a bang. Spoiler, the nail it. This song starts with a catchy intro piece, and vocals that you can easily sing along to. I’m a sucker for songs that have really punchy sounding lyrics, in the sense that they have a really distinct and cutting rhythm. That applies to the verses of this song, something really jived with the beat of the vocals and the beat of the song. The chorus wasn’t as punchy and cutting, but it worked because the chorus had a nice flow to it; it would’ve been overdone if the lyrics cut through the music there. It’s really evident that there was some SERIOUS work put into writing the songs on this album and if there wasn’t, I can call JoFo the most talented artists I have heard. EVER.

Track 10 (the final one)
Devestator

I hate this song. I hate it for many reasons. It was this song that took me forever to finish this review; maybe it was that I didn’t want it to be over, perhaps it was the 3 minutes of a beating heart in the song, it could be that the song is just kinda weird. I hate it. I read in another review that this song was aptly named because it was a “Devestator”, and I agree. The song takes away from the rest of the album, it seems really out of place; it doesn’t sound like anything on this album. I hate it. I’ve listened to Alexei’s “yr friends” work, and lyrically this song reminds me of that; it doesn’t even sound like JoFo anymore. I hate it. That stupid heartbeat lasts for 3 minutes. I hate it. This song makes no sense at all in terms of the album, it’s ending is way too happy, it sticks out too much…….and it’s completely perfect. It makes you feel like the album is truly over now, it’s melancholic, it fills you hope, it’s fantastic, it is the perfect ending to an album. 1,2,3 I love it.

 

Check Johnny Foreigner’s site here.

 

Buy the album. It’s worth it. I promise.

 

Jake

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