Joanna Gruesome – Weird Sister [Album]


On the first listen of Joanna Gruesome’s debut album ‘Weird Sister’, it sounds like they are a grunge version of Veronica Falls. But, after a few listens, you hear much more from this 5-piece band. The album, released under Fortuna Pop records, exhibits the band’s various influences. Grunge, folk, pop, noise punk, even rock - all genres blending in with some dream-pop and a passion for the 90’s revival.

The band seems to be aware of their disturbing use of sounds, as the track opening the record, ‘Anti-Parent Cowboy Killer’, introduces you slowly into their world. The vocals are dreamy and sweet while the guitars loud and electrifying. ‘Sugarcrush’, with Nirvana-esque guitars and Alanna’s vocals rushing in to calm the atmosphere, sounds like a wild animal being put to sleep. It leaves the track settling into a 90’s dream vision, bringing back those geeky punk references reminding you of all the hard years spent in high school listening to The Offspring and Wheatus.

‘Wussy Void’ offers what seems to be a sort of ballad, a quieter song, but it is not long until your relaxed outbreath is sharply sucked back in again and the roller coaster of electric guitars and tribal drums are reintroduced. The vocals are buried so deep in the roaring punk noise that they come out as a whisper, finally giving up and leaving the song to end at the top of the ride. Another example of a “ballad-gone-bad” is the track ‘Candy’ where military percussion levels the languishing whispers.

The ferocity of this album doesn’t only rely on the electrifying guitars and hard rocking drums, though. With tracks like ‘Madison’, you can hear both male and female singers rocking-out and shouting from their punk roots. Of course it is the mix of the sweetness of vocals with, for instance, the double drums present in the track ‘Lemonade Grrrl’, that make this record so challenging in terms of genre defining. You can’t put a definite label on Joanna Gruesome’s music, and this is a good thing. The track ‘Secret Surprise’, and its shouting and empowering vocals, shows a different side to the singer - the whole song is a statement of confidence and strength which deserves to be described as the “must-hear” tune of this record.

The songs are elaborate and heavily built, yet feel too quick. ‘Do You Really Wanna Know Why Yr Still In Love With Me’ feels like watching the rabbit from Alice In Wonderland on cocaine running after his meeting, while ‘Graveyard’ shows a guitar running out of time like a wicked clock. ‘Satan’ is a gem, and the last and most powerful song on this album. Recorded in a vintage style, as if the vocals were delivered via walkie-talkie, the guitar comes in to give you an electro shock then dies away in a buzz. The lyrics are touching and epic, and take this tune to a new level.

‘Weird Sister’ is definitely one of the most interesting debuts of 2013. The style of this record will probably make it more successful around the underground scene rather than up on the charts, and the complexity of this album will also make it harder for them to produce a follow-up of the same strength. It’s with songs like ‘Lemonade Grrrl’ and ‘Satan’ that we can be confident of hearing more from them in the future.

By Alice Quintana