January 7, 2009

Today's Hotness: Johnny Foreigner, Junior Jaguar

>> Whilst the clued-in hipnoscenti eagerly rub their hands together against the cold and in anticipation of the forthcoming single "DJs Get Doubts" b/w "Lea Room," our man Mr. C -- one of the world's pre-eminent Johnny Foreigner experts -- has miraculously turned up some of the Birmingham, England noise-pop trio's earliest recordings. Two tracks, "Candles And Cults" and "Caution Vampires," were discovered streaming away at this MySpace outpost which the band -- then going as the single word JohnnyForeigner -- apparently abandoned at the end of 2005, 10 months before Laundrette Recording Co. released its first single. It is notable that at that time the band did not yet include bassist Kelly Southern; instead, a third player (along with fronter and guitarist Alexei Berrow and drummer Junior Laidley) is listed only as Dan. We can only speculate as to the identity of this mysterious Dan.

"Caution Vampires" (attributed to the likely imaginary album Weallleftyousleepingandgonenow) is not dissimilar to many of the lesser known tracks populating the very rewarding demos collection I Like You Mostly Late At Never, with spirals of arpeggiated guitar, buried noise and spoken-word samples and even a bit of synth cropping up throughout underneath Mr. Berrow's now-familiar rant and croon. "Candles And Cults" (attributed to the collection Unalbumed) seems completely unrelated to the cut "Candles" found on I Like You Mostly Late At Never, is more compact and manic, and has a pretty wonderful chorus section with ethereal oohs that makes the song a must-have for fans. The production values are reminiscent of that of the demos "Kickkickick" and "Say It When Your Sober." Finally, we wonder whether Berrow had the forethought to consider the abandoned page an Easter Egg of sorts for future fans, as the URL is Myspace.com/imflatteredyouremembered. Best Before Records releases Johnny Foreigner's "DJs Get Doubts" b/w "Lea Room" Jan. 12 in the U.K.; the double a-sided release is the fourth single from the band's full-length Waited Up Til It Was Light, which was our pick for top record of 2008.

Johnny Foreigner -- "Caution Vampires" [MySpace]
Johnny Foreigner -- "Candles And Cults" [MySpace]
Johnny Foreigner -- "Candles" -- I Like You Mostly Late At Never
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[buy Johnny Foreigner music from EMusic right here]

>> We've been sorting through a handful of recordings from Junior Jaguar, which is the nom de indie rock of Xxxxx Xxxxxx [name removed at the behest of this now markedly more mysterious songwriter]. One in particular, "Divine," stands out among the group because of its 7/4 verse, some jazzy chord changes in the chorus and because when Mr. Xxxxx pushes his voice he starts to sound a bit like J. Geils Band fronter Peter Wolf. This is a good thing. The track is very fuzzed up, but this adds a substantial live feel to a tune that -- like the rest of Xxxxx's work -- was likely laid down in an apartment somewhere in D.C. Junior Jaguar plans a debut release of some sort in the next few months. Xxxxx was kind enough to let us post "Divine," so check out the MP3 below. A second track, "Morning," is streaming at the Junior Jaguar MySpace casa right here.

Junior Jaguar -- "Divine"
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[Stream more tracks at the Junior Jaguar MySpace casa]


Nick said...

Cool Junior Jaguar track. I like the little guitar solo near the end. Writing a pop song in 7/4 or any other unusual meter without sounding "proggy" (for lack of a better word) is neat trick if you can pull it off -- Nick Drake's "River Man" is the best example I can think of right now.

On the other hand, I also love Radiohead's "Pyramid Song" because it's 4/4 but sounds a lot more complex, especially after those jazzy drums come in.

It cracks me up when a band puts a song's time signature in the title -- like Fridge's "Five Four Child Voice" or Broken Social Scene's "7/4 (Shoreline) -- as if they're trying so say "hey, check us out - we're not just all about 4/4!"

J e f f r e y G e o f f r e y said...

love the tracks! thanks