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“Ambitious, ferocious and hook-filled acid pop”
Philadelphia’s Michael Johnson (the man behind Ape School) has a thing for the avant-garde. Working with Holopaw, Kurt Vile and the War on Drugs, Johnson’s sophomore release, Junior Violence, is ambitious and catchy. The album radiates colorful synths (“Beneficiary (Don’t Blame Me)”) busy with sound and strums along with infectious tugs (“Ready for Duty”).
Junior Violence is underpinned by wide influence, but a judicious comparison can be made to David Fridmann’s production. Think spastic use of experimental sounds and electronic nuances framed by the hook-filled indie rock trinity: bass, guitar and drums. Johnson, a keen but hapless lyricist, has a terrific voice, further hemming a – dare the eclectic similarity – Talking Heads pop, but gels smoothly with the danceable beats in “Sourpuss Down to a Science” and “Cocaine & Guns ASAP.”
Each track takes a harrowing turn, giving the release unshakable variance. The single, “Marijuana’s on the Phone” offers a lull, shuffling with a slower tempo and propped up by horn blasts, sporadic electronic grammar and Johnson’s self-harmonization. Thanks to Johnson’s mature vocals and the electronic flourishes, the album delivers a broad, cohesive result that’s highly listenable and fanatically expressive. Junior Violence is solidly recommended for fans of Panda Bear, Flaming Lips or Pavement’s Wowee Zowee.
Engineered and Recorded by Michael Johnson
Mixed at Uniform Recording by Michael Johnson and Jeff Zeigler
Mastered at Peerless Mastering by Jeff Lipton and Maria Rice
Produced by Michael Johnson