Saturday, June 19, 2010

Record review: Jonny Rumble - 'JR'

Over the past few years Chicago-based four piece Jonny Rumble have established themselves as a genuinely rocking, talented band that's always worth a listen, and their new LP, JR, just might be their strongest to date. The album follows up their 2008 full-length, Almost Dead, and includes a more diverse, accessible set of songs that reflect growth in both songwriting and performance.

Part of JR's appeal is that its musical style is nearly impossible to categorize, yet the record plays out with a cohesive sound and vision. The band serve up everything from punky power pop ("Courtney's Basement") to trippy, mellow psych pop ("Stumped") to gentle, acoustic alt-country ("Toe the Line"), but there is a focused energy and vibe throughout that keeps the collection from sounding disjointed. That said, the more upbeat, pop-oriented tracks such as the jangly "Handgun Blues" and the aforementioned "Courtney's Basement" grabbed my attention the fastest and just might be the band's strongest suit.

Lyrically, much of the material seems to deal with the unrest and frustrations of modern life from the underdog's point of view. "While people slowly get ahead of you/They're filling up their pockets, you're only burning fuel," reflects vocalist and guitarist Brian Webb in rocker "Opportunities," for example. In the driving, aggressive "BRZRKR," biting observations of "all the kiddies on the street in their tight-fit clothes" who would "all be better off dead" drive the discontentment home. And if anything can be inferred from long list of misfortunes that have struck the band over the past few years - including a string of destructive hurricanes that forced them to relocate, unjust jail time, a stolen van, lost teeth and other bloody injuries - the record's sentiments are well-founded.

By their very nature Jonny Rumble are one of those greatly relatable bands that any true fan of rock and roll would find it tough not to root for, and as JR proves, they are more than worthy of being championed.

Download mp3: Jonny Rumble - "BRZRKR"

You can download the entire album for free here courtesy of Rock Proper, the band's label and distributor. If you like what you hear, be sure to support the guys by picking up a vinyl copy of the record here.

Jonny Rumble will celebrate the release of JR with a show at Beat Kitchen on Friday, June 25. Also on the bill are California Wives and You Can Be A Wesley. Doors 8:30 p.m., show 9 p.m., $6, 21 and over. Tickets.


  1. I agree. Been a fan since 2005. Haven't heard their new album yet, but this is a great reminder to pick it up!