"The antidote to the anodyne nature of most of what passes for “rock” at the moment"
Rum Bar Records seems to have cornered the market in pissed-off sounding bands who spend WAY too long listening to the first New York Dolls album. For your perusal, I give you exhibit a: Indonesian Junk.
First off, if you name your band with a phrase from a Cheap Trick tune, I’m going to be interested, as will others in my surprisingly large tribe of Chuck Taylor-clad, Replacements-loving men of a certain age. With that comes the weight of expectancy. They’d better be good with a name like that, right?
Well, they are.
And the good news doesn’t stop there. “Stars in the Night” tips its hat to a whole bunch of NYC bands including the Voidoids and the aforementioned New York Dolls and throws in a healthy dose of The Dead Boys and The Only Ones for good measure. This means that you’re either going to love the perma-sneering vocal delivery or you’re going to rush as fast as possible in the opposite direction, clutching your Josh Groban albums tightly to your bosom. Now I’ve got nothing against the Grobster, but if you turn your back on this, you’re missing out on a whole mess o’ fun.
For a three-piece band, IJ make a loud and snotty noise. Tuneful, concise and arrogant, which, for a rock ‘n’ roll band, is pretty much the perfect combination. If you like short, sharp guitar solos straight out of the Steve Jones/Johnny Thunders instruction manual, you need this record. On “Slow Down”, singer-guitarist Daniel James sounds like he’s chewing gum and sneering, whilst he nonchalantly trots out the lyrics. Somewhere in NYC, David Johansen’s ears have pricked up… “On the Run” is almost a ballad, but bassist Johnny Cyanide (stop sniggering…) and drummer Mike Mattner keep on slamming away, regardless. And quite right too, because who wants to slow dance to a ballad, when you can throw yourself around the room to tunes like “Tonight”.
It’s great to hear this kind of tight-but-loose, punchy rock and roll in 2017, as it’s the antidote to the anodyne nature of most of what passes for “rock” at the moment. These guys mean it (maaann…) and the only thing that might hold them back is their slightly homely demeanour. If the back cover of the album is to be believed, Johnny Cyanide (hey! – I told you to stop sniggering…) looks the part – tattoos, shades and a star T shirt, but the other two guys look way too friendly to be running around in a dirtyass rock band. But as the man said, appearances can be deceptive.
If you’re one of those people who think that rock and roll died along with Johnny Thunders, this may restore your faith in new music. So boys and girls, it’s time to struggle back into your ripped Levis, get yourself a big ol’ wad of Bazooka gum and practice your pout. CBGBs is still open, right?