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Johnny Wishbone - Make It Nice
Six Second Blackbelt Records
By Linus Gelber, Home Office Records
(more articles from this author)
2001-02-08
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Artist: Johnny Wishbone (www.johnnywishbone.com)
Title: Make It Nice
Label: Six Second Blackbelt Records
Genre: Alterhopfunkrapmetal

I don't know if Raymond (guitar) of Johnny Wishbone makes a habit of painting himself blue, but he certainly is a fetching shade in the live shot on this Boston band's Web site splash page. Johnny Wishbone, which formed in early 1999, has a lot going for it: handy equipment endorsements, a reported big ol' promo street team, early positive entry-level notice from MTV online and regional radio stations, a fine gaggle of gigs up and down New England, and a garageband.com showcase audience with Fred Durst, who may well be in their modern-music pantheon.

Their debut record is cleanly done, muscular and full of sweat. The territory is sex and drugs and rock-n-roll, with predictable results; swirl some surprisingly sentimental and lyrical guitar and the occasional sample in with chesty vocals and a thumpy tight rhythm section, and you've got a drink that tastes a lot like today. Claims to genre bending aside -- there's nothing here that Kid Rock hasn't been doing for years -- this is a facile rap/rock fusion release, shot straight down the commercial fairway. Singer Milk and the rest of the band snap out "motherfucker"s and "hoo-ha"s with authority and polish, and Milk's flow is simple and smooth, punctuated by fuzz-guitar choruses shouted in hair-metal style.

There's a sound-and-fury problem here. Johnny Wishbone's lyrics run to the usual boasting for the most part, and when they venture elsewhere the words clunk and the insights are slim (in a consideration of monogamy, the conclusion is "just one night, don't tell nobody"). At its most convincing the band reminisces about times past, hanging with good friends and gently abusing various substances; the more import and earnest they pile onto a song, the less it floats. But in a world that tolerates excrescences by hamhocks like Creed, that may not matter any more.

"Song for Kids" is probably the strongest cut on "Make It Nice," a nice mix of sweet vamping and heavy metal brimming with some honest, personal writing. The inexplicable cover of The Divinyls' shimmery masturbation masterstroke (heh), "I Touch Myself," is spectacularly ill-conceived and mashed out of all recognizable shape -- it's a tune ripe for covering, but gets no justice here.

Johnny Wishbone gives every indication of being a pumping jumping hunky nice-boys-strutting-hard live band, in the vein of recent major label acquisition Sounds of Urchin. Party music for a new round of fashionable happy feet. If you like this sort of stuff, you'll like this stuff. Motherfucker. Hoo-ha.


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