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Johnossi

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Album Review

Johnossi are singer/guitarist John Engelbert and drummer Oskar "Ossi" Bonde, and for a duo, this Swedish pair packs quite a punch. You wouldn't think so from the folky, acoustic intro to "The Show Tonight," which opens their eponymous debut album, not, at least, until Engelbert's electric guitar storms in and kicks the song toward hard rock. But Johnossi delight in bashing around genres, from the bluesy ballad "The Lottery," which slams into Southern rock and boasts a "Free Bird"-styled soaring guitar solo, to the porch picking blues of "Man Must Dance," which slides surprisingly into sharply angular post-punk. "Dance" is irrepressible and "Execution Song" equally so, an insatiable slab of '60s garage. "Rescue Team" positively swaggers around British Invasion territory with a fabulously infectious singalong chorus, mod for the modern age, Engelbert's Little Richard's "oohs" adding to the fun. Less catchy but more intense is "Press Hold," a superb mix of late-'60s-styled rock with an indie inflection and a Western flair. "Santa Monica Bay" also slides between genres, a supple shift from coursing R&B into '70s-styled hard rock, while "Glory Days to Come" is equally driving, a Western with gloom-pop overtones and hard rock underpinnings. The music may shift dramatically, but the pair's themes rarely do, with most revolving around soul-searching and/or angsty situations. Some are poignant, like the wishing-for-a-happy-home "Family Values"; some are reassuring, like the self-explanatory "There's a Lot of Things to Do Before You Die"; although (uniquely) the pretty, yearning "Summerbreeze" is outright nasty. With plenty to chew over lyrically and music to knock your socks off, Johnossi prove the power of two's might.

Biography

Formed: January, 2004 in Stockholm, Sweden

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

As vocalist/guitarist John Engelbert somewhat sheepishly admitted in Johnossi's first online bio, "We're not one of those bands that has been struggling in a basement for ten years, dying to catch a break. Things came easily for us." Indeed, after Engelbert and drummer Oskar "Ossi" Bonde formed the pop/rock duo in their native Stockholm, Sweden in 2004, they played only four gigs before signing with a local label and recording a debut album. Although Engelbert played an acoustic guitar exclusively,...
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Johnossi, Johnossi
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