So Mr Paul,
Time for you to experience Sistahs by Big Joanie. While this album came out in 2018 it is, in all honesty, almost as new to me as it is to you. I discovered the band back in March while listening to the lineup of a festival that never happened.
Obviously, the postponement of the festival was gutting. But out of the wreckage, I discovered one of my favourite albums in a very long time. It’s raw. It’s aggressive. It’s important. Some might argue it is simple at times, but I have no problem with some simple post punk when it packs a punch like Sistahs does.
Add to all this the fact that Big Joanie are an all female band with all black members, and that they’re out their fighting the feminist and anti-racist fights, and I’m sure you’ll see why I love this band. I just hope that you do too.
I’m excited. You’ve hit a lot of my key words there. Raw and aggressive post punk with some real weight behind it to back up the punch. You have my hopes high now.
Out the gates they’re hitting the right notes. It’s post-punk alright. We got the processional drums, angular guitars and loose bass. There is also a DIY haze over the whole sound, which gives a very intimate sound. I do like this first track, but I am a little underwhelmed as it all feels a little too quiet.
A feeling which doesn’t last long as the guitar comes strong out of the gate in the second track ‘Fall Asleep’. The drums are more urgent and I really like the percussive hand claps throughout, partnered with some great backing vocals. And there are some keys or synths lurking away in there as well. This track had everything.
Over the next few tracks we seem to fluctuate mildly between more laid back songs and quite driven songs. None feel as sedate as the first track, but they also never truly ignite at any point. Each song seems to add a new twist on their minimalistic fuzzed out post-punk. Adding a train whistle, chanting, or warped guitar tone.
This intent keeps going as we hit the second high point on the album with the tracks ‘Tell a Lie’ and ‘Token’. The unexpected tweaks are some weirdly glitchy beats, which make the songs feel quite unsettling. Couple that with the way the lead singer changes her voice to match the bass guitar. The vocals in ‘Tell’ a Lie stand out, as the lead singer changes her tone to match the bass guitar. To be honest her voice throughout is great. The lo-fi recording gives it a nice crackle which makes it sound very live. The authenticity is making me really miss live music.
The last three songs seem to meander off to something else entirely. My musical literacy of previous decades drops off pretty quickly but it has this classic vibe that I’m placing in the 50s/60s. It almost reminds me of Buddy Holly by Weezer, but instead of being distilled through american indie of the 00s, Big Joanie are mixing that sensibility with a heavy dose of Riot grrrl.
And we’re done. And this gets a thumbs up from me. As you said Fran, It was simple at times. There was a recognisable and consistent core sound. But they had a lot of flair and added to the classic post punk in a lot of fun new ways. I’m not sure if the discovery of this album would compensate for missing out on a festival. But I’m glad you suggested this, after taking that bullet. Cheers.
Words by Matt Paul