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Thursday
Apr142011

JONNY - S/T

Jonny is the super-group (or more precisely super-duo) of Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub and Euros Childs, formerly of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. The two met each other when their respective bands toured together in 1997. From there, Norman Blake contributed backup vocals to Gorky’s’ How I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart LP in 2001. In 2006, the pair got together at Blake’s house in Glasgow to record an EP. Those tracks are included here as a bonus set of four tracks. Luckily for us, the two continued to write a full-length together, the end result being this wonderful debut.

At first glance, the pairing seems natural enough. They’re both non-English Brits (Norman’s a Scot, Euro a Welshman) who established their careers in the '90s. Both are celebrated songwriters with unique gifts for hook-driven pop music. But at closer inspection, they are quite different artists. Childs is a highly idiosyncratic songwriter who sings about animals and whimsical themes; Blake has maintained his Big Star and Byrds blueprint over two decades. Interesting fact: In 2005, Teenage Fanclub (in which Blake is one of three songwriters) released Man Made, followed up by last year’s Shadows. In less time, Euros Childs has released five solo albums!

While the majority of the album was written together, Childs has sole authorship of five tracks. Even on the shared songs, Childs’ unique vocal timbre and accent mark their territory and show him to be the top dog here. Still, it’s a more successful synthesis than some might expect, with the two playing to their similarities while allowing enough of their distinctive hallmarks to seep through.

Both are energized and seem to be having a great time harmonizing with each other and being a bit silly, setting the tone on "Wich Is Wich", the album opener with its goofy lyric and short Moog solo. Lead single “Candyfloss” is pure Gorky’s-channeling-"Incense and Peppermints" in the verses, before flowing into the classic Teenage Fanclub harmony sound for the bridge—a perfect melding of their individual talents. "Circling the Sun" is Blake’s shining moment, with everything one could love about his songwriting.

Clearly, Childs and Blake care too much about each other’s music to treat the project as a cast-offs bin. This sounds nothing like a vanity side project, and everything like a contender for best duo performance of the year! 

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