Release Date: Jan 31, 2011
Record label: High Note / Turnstile
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Jonny's 2011 self-titled debut is a collection of bright, literate, and catchy '60s-influenced pop. Perhaps that shouldn't be surprising given that Jonny are a supergroup featuring Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake and former Gorky's Zygotic Mynci frontman Euros Childs along with drummer Stuart Kidd and bassist Dave McGowan. While both Blake and Childs have long evinced a passion for folk-pop and melodic rock, the music they've come up with for Jonny is perhaps that much more bouncy, gleeful, and outright fun than anything they've allowed themselves to be before.
Norman Blake has always been the most overtly clever of Teenage Fanclub’s three songwriters. Most everything the Scottish indie-pop band does is pretty sharp, but it’s Blake who has penned such memorable titles as “Alcoholiday” and “Neil Jung”, and backed them with good tunes, too. So it was a bit exciting to learn about Jonny, the band.
Jonny is Norman Blake and Euros Childs, two 90s indie rock lifers with very different songwriting styles. Childs, whose psychedelic outfit, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, called it quits five years ago, has continued to churn out similarly charming, distinctly unpredictable pop songs under his own name since. He's your wild card. Blake, whose vocal harmonies and melodic skillset you may have heard by way of his work in Teenage Fanclub, has been equally active over the years, though rarely on his own.
Genius is not needed to work out that the pairing of Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake and Euros Childs, formerly of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, is unlikely to result in an album of esoteric electronica. So it proves: Jonny is a good-natured, light-hearted collection of bubblegum pop, with one foot in the garage. Bubblegum is the key word: the sweet streak that runs through these songs, predominantly written by Childs, is a mile wide.
Listening to Jonny, the album from Norman Blake and Euros Child's project of the same name, brings to mind the video for 'Sugarcube' by Yo La Tengo. For the uninitiated, the video consists of a record company executive barking at the band about how they are never going to sell any records because they don't look or sound like a rock band should. Of course this still holds true today; the terms on which a guitar-based band can achieve mainstream success are as narrow as they have ever been.
Salutes rock’s past with a carefree spirit and its head in the clouds. Alix Buscovic 2011 Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue was an inspired partnership; Ozzy Osbourne and Miss Piggy, on the other hand, a complete monstrosity. Musical collaboration isn’t always the wisest of ideas, then – even if, as an ageing rocker, you tend to be surrounded by porcine Muppets every day.