Bands to Watch #41: Sweep The Leg Johnny

By on Sunday, 16th November 2008 at 2:14 pm
 

We’ve recently teamed up with those lovely people over at the 405 and today bring you another in our regular series of guest posts from their team of amazing authors. Below is a quick introduction to Sweep The Leg Johnny by Andy Devine

The first band I would like to write about are an old favourite of mine, Sweep The Leg Johnny. I first became aware of them when I was working in a record shop in Portsmouth and they released a split live ep with a band called Hella, another potential ‘band you should know’, I was intrigued by their name, a reference to the end of the movie The Karate Kid, and seeing as I had carte blanche to listen to whatever I wanted it soon found its way onto the stores stereo.

I was treated to intense, interwoven guitar play, what some people would refer to as ‘mathey’, and an almost free form style of drumming that filled in the spaces of silence left by the stop start nature of the songs. The thing that most caught my attention though was the use of the saxophone. Until this point the sax was an instrument that I associated with two types of music, Jazz, and Ska, neither of which I was particularly enamored with. However in the hands of Steve Sostak, who also sings, it was an instrument that seemed capable of so much. Haunting build ups, violent breakdowns and able to punctuate the breathtaking moments in the songs like nothing I’d ever heard before. Nowhere is this more evident than the, amusingly titled, song ‘Sometimes My Balls Feel Like Tits’ from their final album, I’m saddened to say that Sweep have split up, Going Down Swinging.

Opening with the mournful sound of the Sax the song quickly breaks down into a jagged beast, being powered forward by a galloping bass line that the razorwire riffs wrap themselves around. The Saxaphone acts as an anchoring point for the song to build around. It is a 14 minute epic which contains one of my favourite ‘stop-start’ moments within any song of this ilk which happens at around the 10 minute mark, every instrument slamming in and out of the song with such ferocity that it will always send a shiver up my spine when I hear it.

Anyone who is a fan of ‘post-hardcore’ or modern ‘math-roc’k bands like Foals who have taken the math rock template and adapted it, but who have cited Sweep The Leg Johnny as one of their influences, would do well to check them out as they are a force to be reckoned with.

Between 1997 and and 2002 Sweep The Leg Johnny released four albums and one live EP as well as a few split 7″. All of them are a testament to the originality and inventiveness of this band. They hail from Chicago. The broke up in 2002 and members have since gone onto perform in bands such as ZZZZ, Hoover, and June of 44.

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