Monday, 17 March 2008

John & Jehn

Maybe you already know John & Jehn.

Maybe you've witnessed their live show - petulant guitar stabs, sparse but insistent basslines, Farfisa organ that hovers over the songs like a swarm of bats, and the French duo's voices echoing around each other. Maybe you've just heard songs here and there, likely online. Maybe you've read the recent press about them calling them the coolest French export in years. If none of these apply to you, maybe it's time you listened to them.

I first heard them on Myspace in 2006, when my boss was trawling the net for bands to book. They were so different from anything else around - I've seen people compare them to the Kills, but it's a lazy and inaccurate point of reference, particularly given how unwavering the Kills are about their sound and their style. [There's also the fact that J&J don't make b[l]oozy sleaze-rock or sound like Royal Trux.] Looking at J&J, the first thing you notice is how unstylised they are. That's not to say they lack style. Actually they're rather like the lovers in Bande a Part - Jehn's rather like Anna Karina, chic and gawky and charming in a completely unstudied way, and wonderfully sabotages real-life-lover John's skinny, 'man-in-black' mystique. But there's no visible suggestion of them having made stylistic decisions. The music seems to reflect their moods quixotically, touching on shoegazey guitar screes, ghostly Gainsbourg duets and painfully tight, spiteful post-punk; the recorded drums veer between Spector-ish crashes and Pink Panther cymbal tsh-ti-tshhs as befits each song.

Did I mention they're shockingly - and increasingly - good live?

John & Jehn @ the Hype Machine

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