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SONG OF THE MONTH - Jan. 2020: John Zealous - Summer Boy

Hear the sound of the Australian underground.

John Zealous - Summer Boy (2020 Haunted Attics Records)

You should be listening to this band. John Zealous are a lo-fi chameleon of sonic identities, blurring indie rock, post-punk, shoegaze and more into a compact voice. Reverberating across oceans from over in Perth, Western Australia, the songs of songwriter/frontman Joshua Lenzo are immediately identifiable in their potential for greatness, and new single Summer Boy is certainly no exception.

Cutting in with a simple four note bass riff, the song trudges with sordidly confident steps over a satisfying guitar riff. Lenzo grinds a brilliant lyric sheet of young-adult-rebellion against your ears throughout the track, but holds a perfect balance of political resonance and immediate emotive reactivity: "And don't we all wanna be just so individualistic / we become like everyone else".

Joshua Vickery's production and mastering pops with a surprising clarity considering this records independent release, with the bass licks of Lachlan Neasham cutting through with the same bite as the guitars it swims in tandem with. Lenzo also provides a satisfactory percussive backing to the track, though lacking somewhat in finesse does serve well to furnish the lo-fi intentions of this single. Whether the solo of this tune comes from listed guitarists Lenzo, Fynn Ryan, or Joseph Bergl, experimentations with chromaticism feel perfectly in-place and exactly appropriate for this song's post-punk sensibilities, though the solo is a little underwhelming in its reluctance to improvise too much dynamically or rhythmically.

I do wonder as the song begins winding to its ending whether the four repeated notes are a bit *too* comfortable a chord progression for a single with a sound such as this, and maybe it would be good in the future to see John Zealous play a repeated riff with a bit more grit between its teeth - but the song still serves as an excellent piece of work from the Australian outfit, regardless of minor gripes with solo technique and chord choices.

The chorus does exactly what it wants to. I want to shout back to this song. I want to be a summer boy too. This is one of the best songs I've heard this month, and you should all be looking out for the next thing to come from the mind of Joshua Lenzo and attached independent DIY music label Haunted Attics Records.


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Ben Wheadon is editor and founder of Slow Motion Panic Masters. He is a Welsh musician and English Literature student at King's College, London and he should be writing a dissertation, instead of creating a blog.

Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based in London, England. Subscribe to our mailing list below to be alerted every time a post is published on the site.

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