Sometimes, when I haven't had a good share of music that rattles my teeth, I get a bit cranky. It's times like that when I'll come home and find some sort of rather hard edged music and rock out ever so slightly. This last weekend, I ran into that problem a bit, and for some reason everything that I had in my collection just didn't seem like it would do. I run into that sometimes, since I have this problem where I seem to have about 2000 different moods and since I don't own that many CDs, I get to wanting something different.
It was also this last weekend that I discovered Sweep The Leg Johnny. They're one of those groups that I'd read about for some time but just never really gotten into for some reason. I'd seen praise piled on them and for some reason I still didn't seek them out. But they sought me out in a way. After finding one of their releases used, I finally decided to give it a listen and find out just what they sounded like (I know I'd thought their Karate Kid name reference was excellent for quite some time). When I put those headphones on, it was just the kick that I needed.
While they're not doing really anything too differently than what's been done before, they've taken the formula and twisted it just a bit to create something quite original, and quite rockin at the same time. They've got the typical bass/guitar/drums lineup of most punk rock trios, but they've also got an alto saxophonist. Don't get any Kenny G ideas, though, because these guys kick flat out. Although they play the soft/loud dynamic quite a bit, they've got it down just right. The album opens with "Early October" and it slowly but surely fades in from nothing. First, it's just a tick-tick on the drums, then the saxophone snakes in ever so slightly before they let loose with a couple blasts of dissonance. Finally, they craft it all into a fairly swinging groove before the first verse of vocals. And then they really kick it.
If the first track was a steady build, the second one ("Please Give Me Roses Before I Am Dead") starts out with a blast and just keeps rumbling under the surface before exploding several times more in its short duration. The group can also manage quiet beauty, as they do on the slower "Las Cruces" and epic 15-minute long "Rest Stop." Even those tracks have their moments where they kick things into gear and rock your lame ass as well, though.
Basically, the group takes elements of groups like Rodan and others and stirs everything up with a bit of sax and a whole lot of tension. What's left is a 5 song CD that runs just over 40 minutes and will take you through the mood swings like nobodys business. While it's nothing that's super groundbreaking, there's an energy on the disc that can't be denied and they'll sweep (no pun intended) you up with the quieter moments before making you want to scream right along with the louder ones. Rawk.