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Garage punk or classic pop rock?

EP Review: Get Steady — Jonny Lives

When the first notes of this collection, Get Steady, came from the speakers, I knew I was in for something different, special, and something that even though it was very new and edgy was still something comfortable. Jonny Lives describe themselves as garage punk, but, to me, it goes a bit deeper than that. There’s something very classic pop about it in the melodic and catchy lyrics.

Jonny Lives consists of Jonny Dubowsky, the namesake and leader of the band; Christian Langdon, who plays guitar as well as does vocals; Tommy USA, who plays bass; and Jon Weber, who plays drums. Yes, Christian Langdon is the younger brother of a certified rock family and Tommy USA played on Liz Phair’s White Chocolate Space Egg. Impressive roots for this young band, and roots they are holding on to as well as paying homage to with the great music they are producing.

Jonny comments in the band bio on the band’s website. “We’re enchanted with The Kinks, the Stones, and The Who,” says Jonny. He continues, saying “…(we write) little vignettes…I paint a situation out of thin air, play around with the characters, and tell whatever story I want to tell.” Their influences are most evident on the song “Get Steady” which is a catchy guitar driven number. From the opening riffs you hear the angst along with all the typical themes of seventies rock: drugs, sex and well…rock and roll, in an exceptionally pure form.

“Breaking Down” is another appealing track on the EP. This song is simplistic in the sense it is just a few layers deep, a rhythmic guitar, some light percussion and the vocals, which consist of more angst and need. There’s what I call ’80s handclaps thrown into the mix (you know what I’m talking about — the recurring claps that adorned the chorus of every pop song on the radio in the ’80s) and they throw the song back to that era for me. At its heart, the song is about a woman being pulled in a thousand different directions and trying to handle all that life is throwing at her. It’s told through the eyes of an admirer, and is classic in its lusty stalking observations.

By pointing out the influences, I don’t mean to imply that the EP is a quirky tribute-type collection, because it’s far from it. I hear the influences, and the “tip of the hat” to the classic styles is more than evident, but the music itself is original and new, deep, and just plain good.

[ADBLOCKHERE]The standout track and my favorite on Get Steady is “Lost My Mind”. With its rich longing, crooning style lyrics, backed up by yearning (and screaming) guitars, it is a prominent power ballad of being crazy in love, lust, and need. Sanity is over-rated anyway, huh? As with all the songs on the EP, it speaks of the most extreme emotions that are baseline typical of the human race; we’ve all felt them, and we all take pleasure in the fact we’re not alone in our insanities.

If there is a weak link on Get Steady it would be “Cliché”, though it is still a very strong song. For me, it doesn’t have the same classic appeal as the others. It’s harder-edged and the melody is a bit repetitive.

All in all, the EP is a keeper and, in my opinion, just a glimpse of great things to come from Jonny Lives. For more information on the band, upcoming releases and tour dates, check out their Myspace Profile.

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