Last month Community Records gave us Johnny, the second LP by the New Orleans-based indie rock/post punk trio Lawn. It doesn’t stray too far from their first album Blood on the Tracks which comes as a great bonus if this is your first encounter with the band.
If you’re a young geezer like me, you’ll feel those Pavement La Tengo vibes or what is seen as a Dunedin sound or Paisley Underground, jangle pop inspired music. And if you’re actually young, you’ll get a kick out of finding a Parquet Courts kindred band. Kick back and soak up the decaying sun!
Opener ‘Playing Dumb’ is a muttered complaint of a disillusioned not-so-young adult. It is a weird choice for the first song on the album, but it serves the purpose of catching your attention. It does so with the line: “All we’ve got to hope for is the kids are still alright”. With it, Lawn joins a grand Anglo-Saxon tradition of rock songs inspired by the amazing tune ‘The Kids Are Alright’ by The Who.
Don’t know if I want to go there, but I’ll go there. Although it seems like one of the more positive takes on this jolly family crisis hymn, it’s not. If fact, it’s quite gloomy. To me, it almost feels reminiscent of the good old days when young people would make babies and then mess them up because they didn’t know what they were doing. In a way, they at least had a shot at being real adults. Our generation has the opportunity to skip adulthood completely and go from forever young to old in a beat. Playing dumb, that’s the name of the game.
‘Honest to God/Paper’ stays on topic. The tone is down low until, on the second part of this diptych, it punks up in your face. Talk of the Town is where you start singing along. And yes, we’re still dealing with growing up. The spirit of our generation is strong with this one:
“The sound of a man
Coming of age
Caressing the drink
He thinks is not fruitless
Coming back home
From punching that clock
‘Man, I fucking hate Tuesdays’”
Lawn has two singer-songwriters and it works wonderfully for the band. One is kind of romantic and melancholic and the other one is angry and sarcastic. I’d say the first one is an American nice guy who listens to a lot of Morrissey and the other one is a British punk who hates him. A slightly confusing accent of the second is real. Because of it that Drive-By Truckers song ‘Outfit’ suddenly makes a lot more sense. Louisiana’s in the South, right?
Anyhoo, you get some of both singer-songwriting styles throughout the entire album. One gives you the mood and the other gives you the smirk. For a nice stalker’s brand of mood, check out ‘Nighttime Creatures’. That one hit my nostalgia pipe real hard.
The tune that follows it is ‘Jane Ryan’. Don’t know who she is, but I really dig songs with both first name and last name in the title. That’s so punk rock! On the other hand, I know who Jeff Tweedy is, but I have no idea why they are apologizing to him (see Bandcamp). Hopefully, someone will clarify this reference to me.
When the ‘Sunshine’ hits get ready for some Weezer sparks. The image this song paints is endearing. ‘Summertime’, on the other hand, just might be one of the better terrible-summertime-job-themed songs you’ve ever heard. Again, these guys join in on the tradition. It brings music close to the idea of literature that pretty much validates what we do here. (Not that we were looking for validation, but it’s nice to find when you’re cleaning up your drawers.)
In another “tribute” to fresh grownups which lend its name to the album Johnny brings us another moral: “It’s not about how you stand up to the dust, but who you learn to trust”. The album closes with my favourite on the album, ‘Smile’. This one is not as simple as it seems and it gives you a lot of reasons to come back to it.
I love what they did with the finale of this LP and how they arranged the whole thing. A lot of great hooks and splendid choruses. This truly is a highly enjoyable album that will get a lot of replay, I’m sure. It’s a great addition to the catalogue of Indian summer music for people who hate summer.
Lawn is Mac Folger, Rui DeMagalhaes and Hunter Keene on Drums. Give these guys your money. I did.
Order Johnny via Bandcamp.