“What the hell is this?!” is a perfectly legitimate reaction to hearing Somehow Jo! For the first time. It's classic rock, it's pop punk, it's thrash, it's hardcore; even death metal raises it's ugly, pox ridden head. But ‘Go With The Jo’ starts out as a Jewish folk tune played on electric guitars.
The band formed in Tampere, Finland in 2009 and released their debut album Satans Of Swing last year. They describe their music as “Alternative-moose-slappin` metal” and cite “Almighty Satan” as their manager. They groove, they rock hard, and they sing the kind of harmonies you expect to hear from cheesy ‘80s hair metal.
Their songs aren’t funny or tongue-in-cheek but they are fun and light hearted, particularly by heavy rock and metal standards. Ever since grunge and the emergence of Radiohead rock music has become austere and po-faced, Somehow Jo!’s accessible and eclectic tunes are the antidote to the sombre earnestness of modern rock.
This single, like their previous output, was recorded in the old-fashioned way with the band in a room together. Vocalist and guitarist Christian Sauren wrote the first album but ‘Go With The Jo’ and the follow-up album, due this winter, are group efforts and the collective approach to songwriting is paying dividends as this new single is the most cohesive, but also the most expansive, that they have yet released.
After the horah riffing, Sauren introduces the song with the lines “This is some nasty shit/ We are dealing with/ If you understand it/ That means you are sick” before the first incidence of the refrain “This is your new romance”. Lead guitarist Sakari Karjalainen joins in on vocals for the pop-rock chorus and contributes a melodic solo after the second chorus.
The big surprise comes in the middle eight with the tremolo pickin’, double bass drummin’, co-ordinating head-bangin’, mosh section. It’s brief but powerful and, in the context of ‘Go With The Jo’ and its lightness of tone, seems all the heavier. The chorus that follows is a mournful crescendo. It is difficult to label this band and this tune. Aside from the obvious rock and metal influences, there are punk, reggae, new wave, pop and folk touches throughout ‘Go With The Jo’. Somehow Jo! imbue everything with a communal joviality and this single is the perfect teaser for their forthcoming album.
Go With The Jo is available from iTunes.