Friday, April 10, 2015

Cassette Review: Joe John "Empty Calories"

[$5 // Edition of 40 //]

Who is Joe John?   Is he a singer/songwriter?   Is he a country star?  Is he a folk singer?  Is he a rapper?   A name like Joe John seems so bland and generic that it could fit into just about any genre as easy as the next and I immediately apologize for anyone who has ever named their child as such but I'm pretty sure if you looked up the most common names in the United States these would be two of them for males.     "Empty Calories" (which are the best kind of calories, am I right?) is anything but generic though, as it seems to strike harder, like a knife in an electric socket.

It opens up with an audio loop and static blasts of doom.   There are starts and stops with whirrs and somehow it seems to generate this rhythm that makes me want to dance even though it doesn't really seem to have the qualities otherwise of enticing anyone as such.   Then it just turns into destruction and you can feel the idea of dancing taken away as quickly as it came to be.    It's mechanical and industrial with vocals mixed in.   A clanging bell, grinding and wind tunnels take us through Side A.

Side B begins with a shot which reverberates and then that sound repeats.    It's not rapid gunfire, but it is gunfire somehow.    With space whirr lasers and banging, the vocals come out once again and this time they are angry.    It's a harsh Dana Fowler And The or a home made version of something like Nine Inch Nails in the "Wish" era.     It crashes.   It skips.   And it turns into a general sense of glitch by the time that it is through.

While Joe John does channel some influences that I can say are at least mine, the thing about this cassette called "Empty Calories" is that he doesn't just come out and sound like one or the other, but rather the music on the whole, throughout the entire cassette, seems to be building into it.     That is to say, he doesn't just say, "Okay, and now here's a section which sounds like Nine Inch Nails".     The songs build to it.    The music from the very first second builds to it.  

And by the time you realize that it's what's happening it's already too late because it's already taken you over.     You have no choice but to surrender to the music and, well, you could surrender to a lot worse things quite frankly, so why not this music?    It will definitely move you.

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