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Janice Graham Band – It’s Not Me (Review)

Janice Graham Band, It's Not Me

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

CLINT Boon has described Jamie Graham Band as ‘one of the best new breed of Manchester bands who could easily become our next big thing’, while the Saturday Times has credited them with displaying shades of both Arctic Monkeys and The Specials.

Needless to say, hopes were high going into their debut album, It’s Not Me, only to be quickly dashed.

Billed as a concept album that provides the soundtrack to a film screening in the mind of the listener, the ensuing record also deals with the usual themes love, life, sex and death.

It concerns itself with the harsh brutality of life as seen through the eyes of a man whose hedonistic inclination leads him down a dark and twisted path of increasingly questionable morality and self-destruction.

Thematically, therefore, it’s bleak and depressing. But it’s not helped by some curious production values.

There are times when the album lazily seems to come to a standstill, which arrives in contrast to some of the more swinging instrumentals, where the band are at their best.

Joe Jones’ vocals, though, also form part of the problem… his laddish swagger and raw delivery providing a none too convincing focal point. For me, his vocals don’t really work.

Evidence of the album’s tendency to drop into a musical malaise first emerge on Love Letters, a meandering offering that may offer a comical interlude the movie (perhaps). It emerges again on the directionless Burn It All, a 45-second interlude that drifts into the title track. And it’s there again on Crazy Solitary Bingo, another light slice of harmonising that breaks up the heaviness of Machete and Murder.

In contrast, SMF, with its scattershot beats, stabbing guitar riffs and warped trumpets, just annoys.

And then there’s the dark, violent, often twisted lyrical content of the likes of Murder and Machete, which deal with nasty deeds, and emerge as pretty unappealing.

The album does occasionally come to life during moments such as former single No Money Honey, a sharper mix of firm back-beats, reggae, ska and punk urgency. Although reportedly written about a local prostitute, it finds Jones screaming lyrics like ‘I aint got no money for you tonight’, which seems topically relevant given the state of the economy.

Front Door, meanwhile, has some sharp brass and guitar interludes that revel in the band’s ska sensibilities whilst also sounding as though the soundtrack the band had in mind may have been directed by Guy Ritchie.

But sadly such moments are in short supply and this becomes an arduous, even annoying listen that fails to satisfy as a whole. Perhaps the best is yet to come from Janice Graham Band once they get round to delivering a proper debut album, rather than a mini concept one.

Download picks: No Money Honey, Front Door

Track listing:

  1. Thirty Pieces of Silver
  2. Hacienda
  3. No Money Honey
  4. Love Letters
  5. The Whistler
  6. Front Door
  7. Burn It All
  8. It’s Not Me
  9. Machete
  10. Murder
  11. SMF
  12. Crazy Solitary Bingo
  13. All In The Name
  14. Another Winter

  1. whilst as much as you hope your review on ‘indielondon’ will have put people off listening to the album you made me even more intrigued and so i went and had a listen. I must say you couldnt be FUTHER from the truth.

    Wogeye    Mar 14    #