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Friday, October 30, 2009

Jr. Gone Wild - Less Art, More Pop!

Name: Jr. Gone Wild
Album: Less Art, More Pop!
Year: 1986
Style: College Radio Pop
Similar Bands: Bongos, Cucumbers, Rembrants, REM
"One-word" Review: jangle-alt-pop
Based Out Of: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Label: BYO Records

Less Art, More Pop! - Cover & Liner Notes
Less Art, More Pop! - Back & Liner Notes
Less Art, More Pop! - Record

Less Art, More Pop! (1986)
  1. It Never Changes 1:18
  2. Heather on a Bad Day 3:55
  3. Goodness 1:31
  4. Cosmos 3:08
  5. Hey Paula 2:45
  6. She'll Never Know 2:38
  7. God is not My Father 4:13 /
  8. Old Blue 2:57
  9. Slept All Afternoon 2:29
  10. Tragedy in E 3:08
  11. I Fell Dumb 2:47
  12. Day of the First Snow 3:53
  13. Fine Scotch 4:22
  14. Why I Hate the 60's 3:38
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5
Members & Other Bands:
Mike McDonald - Vox, Guitar , Harmonica (Malibu Kens, Jerry Jery & the Sons of Rhythm Orch.)
David Lawson - Vox, Guitar
Dave "Dove" Brown - Bass, Vox, Mix Supervision
Ed Dobek - Drums, Vox
Russel Jessum - Fiddle
The Horns of Plenty - Plenty of Horns
JGW - Producer
Shawn Stern - Producer
Thom Wilson - Mixed
Brett Guervits - Engineer
Dave Mockford - Engineer
John Oparyk - Engineer
Dennis Lenarduzzi (Mosaic Design Group) - Design
Kent Sponage - Back Photo
Ken Hansen (Graphic Edge) - Album Cover Lithography
Reuben Kinkade - Management

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of these guys. And from the band’s name and the stupid cover art of adding Popeye arms to the Venus de Milo, I probably would have never picked up the album. But I went with this only because of the title: Less Art, More Pop! If that holds true, music wise, this could be a great find. That defines one of my favorite types of music: simple artless pop music. The font and band picture on the back is a turn off too, as they appear to be a dreary homemade 80’s college rock, post new wave act. I expect this to be very lo-fi.

Album Review: This Canadian band had had many personnel changes, and has seen over 30 members float in and out of the line up. Apparently K.D. Lang was even a member at one time.

“It Never Changes” begins with basic college jangle pop...I’m thinking of that damn friends song, with its echoing chorus of kinda monotone vocals, and REM bouncy guitar & rhythm section. It feels like a nice intro song for the album, though.
“Heather on a Bad Day” starts with a watery guitar sound, but it is still bouncy in a boring sort of way. The vocals sound a bit distorted, as if the volume is turned up a little loud (it might be my recording of it from the record, too). But the chorus of the song is very good. It is catchy and progresses with a feeling of contentment. It is one of those little hooks that could loop for ever without becoming boring. There are enough little twists to the melody to keep it interesting. And this song uses most of the twists toward the end of the song. I particularly like the psychedelic guitar that is added after and during the chorus.
“Goodness” is a quick and bouncy pop song. It is a jangley college radio pop song, complete with lyric-less chorus of na-na-na-na’s. it is a complete song, but it feels like it should have gone on for a bit longer
“Cosmos” is the first instance where I could see the idea of punk being used for the band…but the production of the guitars is too happily distorted to be considered punk, really. It is about as punk as REM’s “It’s The End of the World As We Know It.” But the bass is bouncy like a good punk song, and the drums are steady adding to the genre. Even the guitar solo helps, but the na na na’s here take away from the punk idea as does the guitar’s sound in the beginning. I just can’t call it punk. Its barely even country, as most descriptions claim them to be.
“Hey Paula” is a folky camp fire ballad that is jazzed up with a quickened drum beat. The vocals are weak and wavering, a little dreary emo in there too.
“She'll Never Know” could be a Indigo Girls song as it begins, thanks to the momentum of the song, and the distinct two harmonizing vocals, male, rather than female however. But it turns into a sort of barn dance, while keeping the Indigo Girls style in the verse. The guitars are jangely and the bass and drums drive the song along.
“God is not My Father” begins with some electric near-metal wha-whaing guitar work, and it continues to be used in little bursts throughout the song. I can’t make out if this is a religious song or not. I think it is pro-spiritual, but anti-uniform religion. This kinda feels like a Brian Ritchie song when your going though the Violent Femmes catalogue.

“Old Blue” begins with low vocals of an audience hooting and hollering. Then a sort of bar room bluesy guitar riff and an energy that comes off as superficial and fake.
“Slept All Afternoon” begins with harmonica and a hoe-down style. It actually feels like the song from the TH show” Vacant Lot’s “Slept On His Arms Last Night” but not as catchy. And not just because they both share the word Slept. It feels like a less complicated Wilco song.
“Tragedy in E” rocks out with more of the fast paced bar room rocking guitar. The song’s tempo is fast passed and sung with a steady attack and rolling melody. A couple of the note inflections remind me of Weird Al. The electric guitar parallels the vocals throughout the song, taking a section at the end to solo and finish out the song.
“I Fell Dumb’s” verse has a similar melody to the Heather on a bad day. But the chorus is slower and not as catchy. There are some interesting alternate takes on the melody here too, and they incorporate a few different sections to change it up a bit before it goes back into the original melody. Over all, a good song, and a good length.
“Day of the First Snow” begins with a Who’s Pinball Wizard powerful guitar strum and a chugging guitar section that sounds like it would fit in with today’s math rock/prog style. Then the song begins and the vocals direct the song into a different direction toward melodic pop. The vocals are strong but not overbearing full of energy and passion. It kinda feels like a Game Theory song. A new section of the song is introduced around 1.50 & the song starts over with the dual guitars from the song’s intro. This is a very good, solid and complex song, just not quite as catchy as the hook from “Heather on a Bad Day.”
“Fine Scotch” begins slow with some Eric Clapton boring guitar styling, and it picks up the pace as the guitar quickens into a metal/electric sound, and the song launches into a steady, driving pop song. All the while, the metal guitar is playing muted in the background like it is performing in front of a mirror, and only allowed out on the musical breaks. The chorus feels very familiar, as it is current, and could be recorded today. The electric guitar in the background really detracts from the great melody of the song.
“Why I Hate the 60's” is a bouncy, care free folk song. It feels like it would have fit better on the A side. It is all jangly pop and fast but polite singing. There is the electric guitar added, but it doesn’t hinder the sunny disposition the song sets up and delivers. There is a fake fade out around 2:45 and the song comes back in for 45 seconds of the friendly guitar solo.

Stand-Out Track: Heather on a Bad Day

Links:

4 comments:

  1. the reviewer is obviously not a music fan and hasn't a clue as to what good music is .jgw were forefathers of the country punk sound but every asshole has an opinion.

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  2. I love Jr.Gone Wild! I have been a faithful fan for years!! How do I get a hold of this album??

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  3. This reviewer has no clue what good music is and his idea of punk is Green Day I'll bet....Great Album although the production could have been better....5 stars out of 5 *****

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  4. This review is bullshit. This lp rules!

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