Alternative music reviews

Big Joan

Insects and Engines May 2004

I was bowled over when I first heard this offering from a five-piece Bristol punk band. I was ready to tell everybody that we had a worthy successor to that great band Tilt mixed with some of the edginess of Lake of Dracula. That would have been pretty good but this really is a much broader approach than Tilt - add in some Teenage Jesus & the Jerks guitar and Gang of Four angularity, stomach punching Swans bass, Solar Race vocals. But all these elements (like a 'best of noise' for the last 25 years) are just hints of the area that Big Joan operate in. I hear a lot of punk that just repeats the past - not in this case. This is a classic combination of a strident female singer over some of the hardest, rawest musical backing you could hope to hear.

The album really does capture those feelings of dripping in sweat, ear-ringing, and physical nausea you end up with after a great gig. Imagine what this lot are like to see live! If you like your music loud, challenging, unsettling, and quite honestly, occasionally scary - then get to hear Big Joan. This is a concentrated aural assault that the government would ban if they knew it existed.


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