Jonny Lives! needs no exclamation
Mar. 02, 2007
Jonny Lives! has officially replaced Panic! At The Disco as the new king of the most unwarranted fucking exclamation point in the history of music.
An exclamation point implies gusto, passion and titillation. In other words, it implies we should be glad Jonny lived.
In reality, Jonny (lead vocalist/guitarist Jonny Dubowsky) didn't show many signs of life on the band's debut album, Get Steady.
Perhaps a more questioning mantra would seem more apt. At the very least, Jonny Lives? would create some intrigue.
Essentially, though this question mark seems an appropriate punctuation to the incongruity of the first few tracks, by the end the sentiment seems to shift again. Jonny Lives... an ellipsis of utter painful acceptance.
Jonny Lives! seems to be operating under the impression that you will simply accept the fact that it is undoubtedly the newest quintessential New York indie-rock band.
If you never listened to its music, it would in fact come across as a band that wanted you to think it is the newest quintessential New York indie-rock band. Its lead singer looks as if he is trying very hard to look like Love Is Hell-era Ryan Adams. It shouts out Fountains of Wayne more often than Fading Into Obscurity Weekly. Not only is the CD jacket a cliché look at the band in front of a New York City silhouette, but for the sake of subtlety it also highlights the "ny" portion of its band name in bright red.
To the band's credit, its music is very literal.
The opening track, "No Good," with its monotonous two-chord banter, seems to bore even Dubowsky himself, and is in fact no good. Although it might still be the album's strongest track due to guest appearances by an all-star New York guitar crew, including the Strokes' Nick Valensi, "Cliché" is ultimately a giant cliché. "B-Side" might be just good enough to qualify as the worst B-side Everclear never made.
And I can only assume "Breaking Down" was written as a general reflection on the audience's sentiment by the time they reach the end of the fourth track, which boldly dabbles in both played out poetry and mediocre metaphors.
The band does at least seem to know its strengths to a certain extent, as it spends the first two-thirds of its Web site biography largely avoiding any talk about its actual music in favor of tales of Dave Grohl debauchery and more namedropping than a Lil' Kim single. The Web site goes a long way in at least making Dubowsky seem like a potentially deep and intellectual individual, citing him as both an NYU grad and a Proust scholar (at least a few slots below Steve Carell in the world ranking system).
Dubowsky also reveals the track "Everybody's Trying to Break You Down" was inspired by a Yoko Ono interactive performing art exhibit at Carnegie Hall during which she wore nothing but a burlap sack, allowing the audience to cut pieces of the sack off little by little until she stood completely naked.
This potentially poignant metaphor was projected onto a young female bartender for the track, and the results rival that of handing Pauly Shore the screenplay to "Citizen Kane." Although it is quite possible Dubowsky and the boys simply haven't found their own "Bio-Dome" yet.
Simple vital signs prove Jonny does live, but in turn we all die a little inside.