Joanna Gruesome: “Last Year”

Joanna GruesomeDo kids still bitch and moan when the weather’s bad and they’re stuck inside? Valid question, right? You can arguably do more inside than outside these days, even if it’s not necessarily the best for your overall well-being. Growing up as an only child with a bowl cut and an overbite, rainy days were something of a crucible for me. Not too long ago, I had nothing to do so I made a jellyfish out of paper plates, acrylic paint, string and spare buttons. Same goes for Girlfriend Mel — except her project was a giant taco piñata. Being bored tends to do that to you, I guess — you eventually figure out how to make something with what you’ve got, or it rots you to the core. As they say: “Only boring people get bored.”

Joanna Gruesome is starting to sound like they’ve got that cabin-fever thing going on with their newest single “Last Year.” Their debut LP, 2013’s Weird Sister, flew largely under my radar until I started poking around Slumberland’s back catalog, but I enjoyed it for the harder-edged twee sound it pulled off. It was a little too close to its inspirations to be a lasting item on my playlist — the Sonic Youth background feedback, the Black Tambourine jangle, the Veronica Falls harmonies — but it had some promise.

Now it sounds like they’ve had some time to sit around, get bored and put together their own giant taco piñata so to speak. The formula is more-or-less the same, but the band’s homogenized their calling cards better, coming out with a track that extends past the reach of the sum of its parts.

The shouty hardcore first half is more upfront and more immediate than most tracks on Weird Sister, and the transition to the dissonant jangle pop of the second half is so smooth I didn’t notice it had happened until about half a minute in. “Last Year” is almost progressive in structure, without dragging out like an extended yazz guitar solo on a lost King Crimson EP. There’s a hook at every corner, and their function is nearly modular — it feels like the song could be chopped up and re-arranged into something equally as catchy and seamless.

Peanut Butter, the band’s upcoming LP, has been announced for U.S. release on June 2 on Slumberland, and pre-orders are coming soon. In the meantime, stream “Last Year” below via Soundcloud. Get bored. Get weird.

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