Potential and potency are hard to come by. Put them together and what have you got? Chaos, usually… especially with Scouse guitar bands. The Jjohns might be no different. Then again, as that delightfully quirky name suggests, they just might be. By Alan O’Hare.
There’s no let-up with The Jjohns. Guitars rage, drums thud and frontman Dom Dunning comes on like Liam Gallagher, John Lydon and Lee Mavers. “When I’m in the bath, I hear our song, the melody just straggles on… I’m so alone,” goes (I think) the rocked-up La’s rattle ‘n’ roll of ‘So Alone’ (video below) and you hear the desperation for something – anything – to happen in the hoarse falsetto, false finish and “where are you?” refrain of the exciting and extended coda.
There’s nothing new happening here. But, so what? A year or so ago, The Jjohns were great to see live, but the tunes were backed up with bluster not brilliance. ‘Little Bird’, from their locally-acclaimed ‘Stone Across The Cave’ EP, was on a downer from the beginning and nearly drowned under the weight of its affected melancholy. Compare it to the craftily composed ‘Lucy’ – all taut guitars, rocking riffs and crashing chorus’ – and you can see the join where The Jjohns have stepped-up.
It’s been noticed, too, as the County Road four-piece have been signed by Modern Sky UK, home to The Blinders, Catholic Action and The Slow Readers Club, and are set to release a set of singles and an EP before the year ends. “We want to be harmonic, homegrown and a band who write inspiring melodies,” says Dunning when asked about The Jjohns’ ambition. “We’re singing about what we know, where we live and who we love.”
There’s definitely a touch of ‘Up In The Sky’/’Round Are Way’ Oasis in the sounds and sights of the aforementioned ‘So Alone’, but maybe you’ll also hear something more modern in the urgent rhythms and chiming guitars of ‘Lucy’. Whatever… The Jjohns are about to enter the most important phase of their musical life so far and these last two shots across the bow suggest they’re ready to set sail away from the Merseysound.
I like the sound of that… you gotta’ go there to come back.
‘Shout About It’ Festival
Saturday August 18th 2018
Constellations, Greenland Street, Liverpool
Pic by Mike Burns