Sweep The Leg Johnny
I'll admit that when I first read about Sweep The Leg Johnny, I thought that their name was some sort of a joke and that they would be some rather typical punk-rock band. I mean, who after all would name their band after a line from a rather cheesy 80's flick like Karate Kid and expect themselves to be taken seriously? After finally breaking down and finding some of their music, I realized that they probably just picked the name for the other reasons I'd originally thought of; it just sounds cool.
Those expecting a drastic change from the band from their former album Tomorrow We Will Run Faster to this one may themselves having a bit of a letdown. Although the title of the album is definitely more in your face (especially if you know Italian), the group is still doing a lot of the same things that they did before, but still managing to keep the killer dynamics of huge riffs offset with quiet and pretty melodious passages.
Sto Cazzo! is sort of a strange disc in that it seems like it's walking a strange line between wanting to take itself seriously and wanting to come off as some sort of inside joke. While the title of the album itself is semi-strange (don't worry, it's all explained on the CD inlay tray), there is also fine print reading "you just got your asses wupped by a bunch of goddamn nerds" printed across the other side of the spine. These two small factors (admittingly) combined with lyrics that recall quite a bit of pain and reflection seem like a bit of a strange juxtaposition, but I'm not about to spend a whole review critiquing perceived points versus intended points.
Musically, if you're a fan of the group and their sound, you're not going to be let down by this release. They don't hold things back at all in starting out the album and after a rumbling, building intro on "The Fine Wrinkles: We All Have Them," they let loose with a strange stutter-stepping rhythm punctuated by the familiar blasts of alto sax. The second track "That Than Which" is a little more strange in that it's really nothing more than a very short sort of remix (although it's hardly electronic) of the final moments of the first track before the group starts abusing again on "Walking Home On The Emergency Bed" and "Bloodlines." Although the two songs have a couple quiet moments in each, they're mainly sort of pummeling, and the group finally slows things down at the beginning of the epic-length "Columbus Day." After a long intro in which both a violin, vibraphone, and piano mingle with quiet outpourings from the alto sax, the song actually stays pretty quiet for the majorty of the 10 minute duration. In the final two minutes, it breathes out a last blasting gasp, but the main part of the song shows the group can actually sing as well as scream.
As mentioned above, the group shows maturity on the release without changing up things too much. They again sort of sound like the bastard punk-rock offspring of Morphine and Slint, but it works for the most part and there's something very primal about the highs and lows that they pull the listener through. Now that I've heard them on release, I'm biding my time until I can see them live. Another excellent release.