21 April, 2012

Recent Love (Croatian Edition)

Joe 4, Njegov Sin (Again with the no artwork?)
Anyhow, I just want to apologize to the other bands I've yet to review: Sorry, y'all. Joe 4 have released the record of 2012. I've been listening to this record since nine am. And I'm not about to stop. This is the first record I've heard in years that actually deserves to be put on constant repeat.
The record kicks off with "Vatra", one of those kind of hulking beat 'em up numbers that you're not going to find too often on Minneapolis Public Radio that is just perfect for fighting traffic on your way to the grocery store. The way it builds and falls and builds and falls, all within the same rhythmic motif is a nod to the power of dynamics that all good bands know how to wrangle. As an opener, you can't ask for more: It's big (sound wise), the band is as tight as ever, and Lu's voice - a defining characteristic in Joe 4's music that was always rough around the edges in a way that would strike pop music listeners as unorthodox - has found its footing. There's something more desperate in his screams this time, something that strikes me as someone who's fighting to be heard above the racket.
And what a racket. (Can I use that as a segue? Or is that too cheesy?) "Kazalište, Zatvor, Sudnica" begins with a drum intro that reminds me of High On Fire's Des Kensel and then quickly moves into - I shit you not - all of the best parts of all of the best songs I've ever heard all wrapped up into one song. The band shifts gears seamlessly; if you don't keep an ear on this one, you'll think you've been listening to at least, what? seventeen? eighteen songs. And trust me, they're all good ones. Believe me, there are some songs that I think go on entirely too long. "Kazalište, Zatvor, Sudnica" goes on way too fucking long and I'm A-OK with that. I want this song exactly as long as it is. So, my pick for best song on Njegov Sin is "Kazalište, Zatvor, Sudnica". There's a bit of clever interplay between the guitar and bass in some sections where the guitar plays the melody while the bass plays the tonic and then the guitar plays the tonic as the bass handles the melodic duties. (And, yes, I'm still writing about this song because I'm playing it a second time.) There's also a nifty drum break that will recall Shellac's Todd Trainer. For real, if you want to hear a drummer that's better than you or your band's drummer, listen to Joe 4, specifically "Kazalište, Zatvor, Sudnica". There's no getting around it: This is the best song on the best record of 2012. I know it's only April, I know that I have two more record reviews to get on, I don't give a shit. This is my goddamned blog and I'm fucking calling it: This is the best record of 2012. This is the bar. So, in a sense, fuck Joe 4 for making everybody, self included, have to step up their game. Also thank fuck for Joe 4 giving me a record I've been listening to nonstop for five and a half hours at this point. Come to the states, boys. Buy you some Američki plave traperice* and tour the fuck out of us.
"OH, WW2" just does not bullshit around. No intro, just straight to the goddamned point and into the tick-tock tight rhythm and a bassline recalling Gary Numan and Tubeway Army's "Down in the Park". This probably wasn't the best song to listen to in the produce section as I was grocery shopping this morning. I mean, hey, nothing heavy sounds all that bad ass when you're in a store looking for something. Like the time I walked into Target to buy air fresheners or something - hey, it could have been Preparation H for all I remember - and Big Black's "Kerosene" came on. You want to neuter a song? Go shopping with it. At the same time, I dare you to try to neuter anything on Njegov Sin.
Also, while I was in the produce department, this other song starts. It's a bit more mellow. It's honestly the kind of song that I could fall in love to; you know, me and a girl, developing a bond with each other on a sunny spring day, and this song comes on and it's like the perfect soundtrack for that moment, you know? And while I'm listening to the intro, I'm expecting Lu's voice to come in with a bit of a croon to it, maybe a low pitched bit of singing like this is going to be the ballad. And while I trust Joe 4 to not give me their rendition of "Every Rose Has Its Thorn", I still suspect that this song is going to be their "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" moment, like maybe Lu got pussy-whipped one night and had to write a song about his old lady. It's OK, we've all done it. Your boo does something special for you like make you cupcakes or lets you put it in her ass** or something, and now you have to write her a song because you're drunk and you're in love and that's just what you do when you're drunk and in love: You write your old lady a song. Anyway, it's while I'm picking out an avocado that I hear the first lines: "It's all bullshit! Kickstarter apologists!" I go, "What?" and pull my phone out of my pocket and look at the song title: "Houlihan".
Now, for those of you who've never been to the PRF, Houlihan is a prolific and sometimes acidic poster on the forums. And what Lu has done in this song has so perfectly captured his spirit in the lyrics that I'm almost curious as to whether he just copied and pasted Houlihan's posts into the lyrics. Also? I was laughing my ass off in the produce section. "Don't sell me shit before it exists! Huge sack of diseased cocks on to your mom's face! Stop trying to sell me shit before it even fucking exists!" I was near tears in laughter in the grocery store this morning. For real. This song is also the second best one on the record, right below "Kazalište, Zatvor, Sudnica", the song I will not stop telling you about until 2013.
"Njegov Sin" is the barn-burner song on this record and the "side A closer", a quick little four-on-the-floor number that a lot of "side A closer"s could learn from. It says, "Look, this record aint over yet. Flip me over." Perfect in the way that Nirvana closed out side A of Nevermind with "Territorial Pissings" as opposed to how they closed out side A of In Utero with "Dumb" (but, hey, at least they opened side B with "Tourette's").
Side B of Njegov Sin opens up (See? I made another segue.) with "Spartacus". Its prolonged instrumental intro will remind you of the good bits of Alice in Chains. The rest of it is all jerk and lurch, convulsion and seizure and a nice little ascending melody. This one flows nicely into "Killer", which, with an intro that briefly recalls 7 Year Bitch's "Whoopie Cat", works on a similar musical and lyrical theme. (In fact, all of side B seems to be working on the same theme.) I'm getting a bit jealous of Joe 4 at this point. What's the job market like over there, fellas? Because I'm looking at joining your band.
"Karte" is the slow, cigarette number. I'm not saying that it's the song you have time to smoke a cigarette to (unless you smoke your coffin nails in two minutes, forty five seconds), I'm saying that this is the song they should play in movies when the antihero has to make a hard decision and lights a smoke while he makes his decision. And you know that by the time he makes his decision, as this song more or less tells you just by its very nature of brutality (OK, that sounded cheesy), he's going to have to kill his best friend who's gone off the deep end to save the femme fatale. That's how movies work. When you hear this song while a guy smokes a cigarette, he's about to fuck somebody's shit up. That's how life works, B.
"Almost a Boy" recalls the finer points of At.The.Drive.In's guitar and bass interplay. Heavier than a dump truck load of bricks and as melodic as a choir of seraphim. And I don't give a shit if that assessment of them sounds cheesy, that's what's in my heart, B.
"Marš Na Ilovu"'s guitar intro is the sound of rain on your windshield. After that, the song is one big march to war in ¾ time, replete with military marching band drum roll coming in at the 02:15 mark, and then the chant that "Everything's going to be alright!" And you know what? It will be alright kids. So long as this is record is added to your summer soundtrack. Unfortunately, Joe 4 haven't uploaded the goddamned thing to Bandcamp yet, so you can't hear how fucking good it really is. I can't say I'll dedicate a whole post to the day that they do but if you follow @SDDoubleA on Twitter, there's a good chance I'll tweet it when it happens. And it's going to happen, right, Joe 4? Everything really is going to be alright, right?

* That's Google Translate Croatian. What do you want? So far, the only Croatian I know is how to say "thank you" (hvala ti) on account of Lu via Facebook.
** Put some beans on it, Lu.

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