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Sweep The Leg Johnny | Going Down Swingi | review | rock | Lollipop

Sweep The Leg Johnny

Going Down Swingin' (Southern)
by Craig Regala

Don't know much about these guys or the possible scene they belong to, or grouping they're chuncked into but hey, they're a good listen through most of the disc. Sweep The Leg Johnny (STLJ) have a couple other discs and from the promo material, they've been doin' their "thing," which keeps getting the "jazz" tag whipped at it. I guess becase they have a horn player, aren't ska, and people have pretty low standards when it come to rock diversity. This record is less aggressive than the howling yahoo storm that bounced around after John Zorn launched it with Naked City and the power electronic crowd got noise competition from Borbetomagus. If you're looking for a Flying Luttenbackers assault or some such thing, this disc is more restrained and musical in a Chicago post-punk to post-rock to post-jazz strained through rock and roll energy levels way. Who's it like? Couldn't say. What's it like? Well, I'm sure they'd have no problem playing for the open-eared among you who've delt with such terms as "math rock," "jazz fusion" (not the easy listening stuff - the Manavishnu Orchestra stuff), "progressive rock" ala King Crimson/Soft Machine/This Heat, and "art punk."

SST records have released records at times using some of this full-rock groove topped with full-bodied sax-led riffs and melodies. There were bands in NY that fell out of the loft jazz club music scene that the Knitting Factory molded and promoted for a decade until we caught on. I remember records by Ronald Shannon Jackson and the Decoding Society, The President, Paranoise, and Curlew packing similar punches, though the STLJ guys really do sound like a part of Midwestern hard art history. At times anthemicly arching upwards then restraining the energy with pensive voicings or dynamic shifts like a mid-'90s Touch & Go band, sometimes swapping spit with Philadelphia's instrumental power trio ball of wire, Stinking Lizaveta, or playing tag with Slint, STLJ have welded their music together over the 700 or so shows they've played. You can tell because the two guitars and alto sax never step on each other. Cool.
(PO Box 577375 Chicago, IL 60657)

 


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