Peanut Butter - Fortuna POP! - 11 May
Due to rising international pressure, Joanna Gruesome’s new album Peanut Butter will finally enter the world on 11 May via Fortuna POP! (UK), Slumberland (US) and Turnstile (ROW). Rival groups will be disappointed to learn that the 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.”
Like their debut, the new album was recorded by MJ from Hookworms, with the aim of heightening the group's "pop" and "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 her/his/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. Things become surreal on “There Is No Function Stacy”, a song about “someone called Stacy who wrongly believes a party is happening that she’s been invited to. The narrator has to painfully explain to her that there was never a party and she fabricated it all”, while on “Crayon” Williams addresses his approach to lyrics directly. “ Sometimes you can undermine hetero macho rock shit through nonsense words, obtuse statements, action, melody, sound or aesthetic rather than through traditional lyrics.”
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), the band members originally met on a wine tasting holiday. Their debut album Weird Sister took the world by storm when it was released in September 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'. On the radio their singles have scored a remarkable four out of four on the 'BBC 6 Music playlist' and the band have played sessions for both 'Lauren Laverne' on '6 Music' and for 'Huw Stephens' on 'BBC Radio One'. Since the release of Weird Sister the band have been constantly badgered, surfacing from hiding in order to release split singles with Bristol’s Trust Fund and New York’s Perfect Pussy, as well as touring with Los Campesinos!, Speedy Ortiz and Stephen Malkmus.
Astonishing Adventures - Split 7" with Perfect Pussy - 24 November 2014
Thrilling Cardiff-based noisepop group Joanna Gruesome have teamed up with their American cousins Perfect Pussy to release a remarkable four song split 7" EP. The release comes packaged in a 24-page comic book, illustrated by cartoonist Phil McAndrew (brother of Perfect Pussy's guitarist Ray McAndrew). The heroine in McAndrew's comic is a "split" between Joanna Gruesome front woman Alanna McArdle and Meredith Graves of Perfect Pussy, who battles misogynists, online trolls and haters everywhere. The EP is being co-released by Fortuna POP!, Captured Tracks and Slumberland on 24 November.
Joanna Gruesome’s terrific debut album “Weird Sister” took the world by storm when it was released last September. Produced by Hookworm’s MJ, the album is brimming with irresistible pop melodies and spiked with dissonant fuzzy jangle, the songs shot through with loud discordant feedback and super-fast, hardcore punk drumbeats. Fantastic press support saw glowing press reviews across the board with particular love from Pitchfork and from NME, including a spot on the front cover as part of their Rule Britannia issue. At radio the singles from the album scored a remarkable three out of three in BBC 6Music B-lists and the band played sessions for Lauren Laverne on 6Music and for Huw Stephens on Radio One. The album has recently been shortlisted for this year’s Welsh Music Prize. The two tracks here follow their recently released split EP with Trust Fund and represent some of the first new material to be heard from the band since the release of “Weird Sister” and, in lead track “Psykick Espionage” a taste of their new album to be released in the first half of 2015. Their second track “...And Keep Reaching for Those Stars” is a cover of a song by 90s US emo band I Hate Myself.
Hailing from Syracuse, New York, Perfect Pussy are one of the boldest and most intriguing projects to surface in recent years. Veiled beneath layers of exquisitely abrasive noise, frontwoman Meredith Graves’ lyrics are disarming, brutally honest and poetic, possessing a feverish intensity that can only be matched by her electric stage presence. Their album ‘Say Yes to Love’ was released on Captured Tracks in March 2014 to widespread critical acclaim. On this EP Perfect Pussy cover Björk’s old band the Sugarcubes’ “Leash Called Love” and also contribute the new track “Adult World (The Secret)”.
Weird Sister - Fortuna POP! - LP/CD/DL - 16 September 2013
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.
“Abrasion, anger, attitude. One guitarist is in the audience, but this isn’t too much of a stretch. There are slower parts where the musicians take a second to breath. There are noisier bits where the musicians take a second to reflect. There are thumpy bits where the musicians take a second to dance and enjoy themselves. Everyone’s smiling. Everyone’s hugging themselves. What a glorious mess of a noise to be a part of. What a glorious sense of community.” Everett True, Collapse Board
"A brilliant band from Cardiff who love their fuzzy melodies and songs dripped in scuzzy reverb." Huw Stephens, Radio One.
"These sublime pop noiseniks provide a masterclass in controlled aggression. Edgy and intense...they pound and pout through violently melodic two-minute songs about satanic rites and psychotic episodes." The Guardian
"At the center of the fracas is McArdle. She stomps, screams, and shouts her way through plenty of 'Weird Sister', as though, if she didn't open her mouth, these songs would come bursting forth from her chest just the same." Pitchfork
"Their second album could yank them up a few notches further out of their community and into wider acclaim - a process that, like this mesmerising band, would be intriguing to watch." The Observer
"Joanna Gruesome have made one of the most thrilling gut-punches of a debut album you will hear all year." NME
"Instant hits of hell-for-leather guitar catharsis, righteous punk polemics and threats to remove offenders' teeth, packaged in energising indie-pop melodies." The Independent
“Abrasion, anger, attitude. Everyone’s smiling. Everyone’s hugging themselves. What a glorious mess of a noise to be a part of. What a glorious sense of community." Collapse Board
4-6 September, End of the Road Festival
Friday 18th September - Islington Mill, MANCHESTER (www.nowwave.co.uk)
Tuesday 22nd September - Scala, LONDON (http://scala.co.uk/events/joanna-gruesome/)
Thursday 24th September - Glad Cafe, GLASGOW (www.gladtickets.co.uk)
Tuesday 29th September - The Haunt, BRIGHTON (www.facebook.com/dictionarypudding)