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New Junk City - 'Same Places' Album Review


1. Useless Friends

2. High In The Morning

3. Half Life

4. Stay Asleep

5. Losing Side

6. Come Tomorrow

7. Coffee Mug

8. In Our Blood

9. Nothing Waiting

If, by any chance, you played video games almost quarter of a century ago (yes, they had video games back then, or so I’m told by my much, much, much older friends) it’s quite possible that you would be aware of the name Earthworm Jim. If you didn’t (or if you did, and you’re not) allow me to explain. Earthworm Jim was a video game, which was later turned into a cartoon, and it was pretty fucking mental. The protagonist was, you guessed it, a worm, who wore (for some reason, lost in the annals of time) a space suit. He shot bad guys with his ray gun or, failing that, killed them by whipping them with his head- quite why that hurt the bad guys more than him is anyone’s guess, although he also managed to use his head as a helicopter rotor, so… yeah. One of the settings for the game was the dystopian New Junk City, a town where the familiar was twisted into something altogether different, and a little bit unsettling.

New Junk City’s ‘Same Places’ also takes a lot of what the listener may find familiar, and morphs it into something altogether different. There’s a whole lot of stuff going on here, and a lot of it sounds incredibly incongruous when you lay it out. Try and imagine Oasis’ Status Quo like riffs, mixed with a heavy helping of Country, served up on a platter of pure Hard Rock. Try really hard. You can’t imagine it? Of course you can’t, because that would make no sense- yet, here I am, listening to exactly that.

Opener ‘Useless Friends’ begins with a squall of feedback, leading into a Francis Rossi like riff, with an unrelenting tempo that would have Mr Rossi in his grave before the third bar. And that tempo continues right the way up to the penultimate track, they really do belt it out. That penultimate track (‘In Our Blood’) is a heartfelt tale of addiction and recovery that ramps up the Country element of the record- I’ll be honest, I’m not altogether comfortable with Country, but you know what? This kind of works.

Despite the roaring vocal, the tracks are oddly melodic and, dare I say it, anthemic; I’ve been performing them to my car for some time now, and I make no apologies. Even so, I’m not entirely sure that I totally get this record. It’s not a bad record, it’s probably quite good, but I’m just not sure who it might appeal to. Are Hard Rock fans big into their Status Quo? Are Oasis fans big into their Country? Ultimately though, music isn’t necessarily made with a view to who would like it. Music is made for music’s sake, and whether or not I get it is an irrelevance.

New Junk City have created an album that takes the familiar and presents it in an unfamiliar way- I’m not entirely sure that it’s my thing, but I am absolutely sure that it will be somebody else’s thing. So give it a listen, you never know, it might be your thing.

Review - Jon Stokes

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