Johnny Mafia | Michel - Michel Michel
One thing’s for sure, the latest album from Johnny Mafia, a foursome from Sens, France, who have a garage style energy, came at us with a bang. But before we tell you about them, we consider it journalistically important to re-contextualise this invigorating masterpiece- which our ears still find tantalising- because it seems that that is what is done in self-centred, relevant journalism.
It was the afternoon of 23rd February, 2016 and yours truly was calmly listening to the latest album from a sophisticated indie band with clean, whole productions and nice melodies. While the lead singer attacked yet another chorus with a slightly, but not too, sharp voice, my psychological state began to enter into a system what could be called ‘half-hearted’. I therefore decided to skip to something else, and while having a short coffee break whilst watching a half-way interesting interview with a well-known rapper. About to rinse my ears clean with a AIKpote track, Raph, a member of the ‘Gangsta rap aficionados’ section of the Limonadier team, sent me the link to the album that we’re talking about today, with an almost lyrical enthusiasm. With a heady mix of luck and destiny, I was delighted to find that it wasn’t hip hop.
I practically inhaled Johnny Mafia, around the time of the album release party in Paris, organised by Freaky Loud Things on the 20th February at the Mécanique Ondulatoire.
For those in need of informational authenticity of what was witnessed:
“I’m going to tell you something, my little friend, with a good degree of drunkness, I’m passionate about bands that move (because there is not only New Era caps in life, but oily hair and guitars as well): I may well have seen only a handful of rock concerts in my short life- but I must admit that I have not moshed like that in front of a stage for ages. The Johnny Mafia guys play loud, fast and have the spirit of youth and garage punk that is just not seen anymore.
No kidding, the two opening acts – The Greyguts et The Whacks- were already good, but Johnny Mafia killed it from the start. It was at this gig that I discovered their album, before even listening to their bandcamp. They reclaim all codes of the genre, providing a highly efficient and communicative project. The lyrics border on nawak, the riffs are turbulent and you really get a feel that the group is enjoying themselves!
Special mention to the tracks “Bad Michel”, “Scarycrow VI” and “Black Shoes”! «
Half convinced by this feedback, I said to myself, ok, young people playing garage rock is still cool… oook, the French scene is a good state; it may well be cool but this is not really what you’re interested in, and it’s already morning, the floor sticky from beer and the sweat from the night before are now faraway concepts that are difficult to re-imagine for my nearly 30-year old, tired brain.
With that, I started playing the album, whose silly title ‘Michel- michel michel’ had me smiling despite myself, and heard the first track, “Sleepings” : …
…which starts very softly with a tranquil guitar and the singer repeating ‘Hello boring I just feel down’ in a litany-esque fashion, which spoke to me. I thought, yes, this is good, feeling slightly sluggish in this introspective moment. Then the rhythm accelerated, the guitars accumulated, the melody took hold, the lyrics still the same, we’ve made it, the track wakes up like Neo in the Matrix and really started to get going. I asked myself: SHIT, why don’t I listen to more rock like this? I also told myself at the same time that it’s a good sign of what’s to come.
The next track, « Bad Michel », started and I can’t really put my feelings at that time into words. Something along the lines of: ‘arggggggggggghhhhhhhh’ :
That was it, decided: Mega hit, absolute melodic, practically perfect mayhem. The voice tricks and breaks are similar to the music of Jay Reatard (an influence denied by the group that will nonetheless immediately come to mind to those who have previously frantically slapped their thighs whilst listening to this artist).
Between charisma and sincerity, their sound is just damn fun. The rest of the album does not disappoint after the strong start and you must listen urgently. NOW!!
So if you’re not convinced after all that (which contained a ridiculous amount of brackets), bummer for you. And if you loved it, all you have left to do is support the group by grabbing yourself a copy of their (self-produced) album HERE.
Upcoming concerts :
Lons Le Saunier, France