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Korean Rock Recall: Reliving The Retro Throwback Blues Of The 2013 Wasted Johnny's Classic 'Loud & Headache Girl' [VIDEO]

By Jeff Tobias | January 08, 2015 07:14 PM EST


This week, the social media water cooler talk was all about how a few teenagers had committed the crime of being unfamiliar with Kanye West's most recent collaborator, Sir Paul McCartney. Those who counted themselves among the outraged should be aware that within the next 100 years, it wouldn't be implausible for a young person to look at an electric guitar and be just as confused.

Yes, it's indisputable that electronic music is the dominating frontier of popular music. However, apparently no one alerted Wasted Johnny's to that fact.

On their 2013 single "Loud & Headache Girl," this Seoul- based power trio make an attempt at a rock n' roll time warp, successfully making something old sound exciting, if not exactly new.

Wasted Johnny's features singer and guitarist Angie, drummer Kim Young-jin and bassist Nils Germaine, who, going strictly by his name, was presumably cut out of an earlier version of "Spinal Tap." The group formed in 2011, and has released several recordings of blues-influenced garage rock at a steady clip ever since.

"Loud & Headache Girl" comes from the band's "Get Wasted!" EP. A brief look at that album's tracklisting gives us a clue about Wasted Johnny's's intentions. The first track on "Get Wasted!" is called "Crossroads Meet The Devil." So, in case you weren't sure, this direct reference to Robert Johnson's mythological confrontation should make it clear that this band has some purist inclinations.

Rejecting a synthesizer-driven future, Wasted Johnny's instead embrace the past. "Loud & Headache Girl" is a perfect example of this reverence for those old fashioned "group sounds."

The song starts with the classic '90s trope of the fuzzed-out fade-in, but beyond that threshold, the music is unheedingly loud. The punchy guitar tone and tough bass tone don't allow this to be mistaken for Stevie Ray Vaughn or any other classic blues rockers. By the same token, these same production choices set Wasted Johnny's apart from a number of rock revivalists, who often make painstaking efforts at recreating vintage sounds.

No, Wasted Johnny's simply sound like a modern band trying their best at an old style. Fortunately, their best is rather impressive.

And the most impressive aspect is undoubtably Angie, a consummate frontwoman. Armed with a classic Stratocaster, she tops off each turnaround with either a stock-and-trade rock n' roll lick or punkabilly power chords.

Are these clichés? Maybe so, but it's Angie's execution that allows them to live one more time.

When rock n' roll was still in its infancy, one of its critics derided it as "repetition spiked with hysteria." Angie appears to have taken this snide remark as marching orders, punctuating each verse with a shriek or a riff. It never fails to be exciting.

Germaine and Kim, for their part, are a satisfyingly buoyant rhythm section, keeping the pace while swinging affably. Nothing fancy is called for here, and nothing fancy is delivered.

It's as if they're saying leave the fancy stuff to the DJs."

Perhaps that's why this style remains so vital in the hands of the Wasted Johnny's, they make it nothing but a good time.

Watch the music video for Wasted Johnny's's 2013 single "Loud & Headache Girl" RIGHT HERE


Jeff Tobias is a writer and musician currently living in Brooklyn, New York. As of late, he has been reading the short stories of Mary Gaitskill and trying to build a better breakfast burrito.

Tagged :  Wasted Johnny's, Loud & Headache Girl, Get Wasted!


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