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Album Review

The press release accompanying Sweep the Leg Johnny's sophomore effort says that the band "exemplifies blue collar Chicago." Ummm...okay. If you believe that an overdriven guitar and a saxophone playing intricate lockstep passages in 5/8 time has something to do with the working class, well, that's your right. This stuff is about as boho intellectual as you can get, and there's nothing wrong with that. After all, the second song on this album is called "That Than Which," and the song's lyrics consist of this line: "Nothing greater can be." The band's sound is still sort of a weird cross between Philip Glass, Fugazi, Gang of Four, and Mission of Burma — no melodies, thank you, but lots of interesting compound meters and song structures whose careful construction is barely concealed by the band's emotional, punky delivery. The best case in point is the very fine "Walking Home on the Emergency Bed," an episodic tour de force that must have taken weeks of rehearsal just to pull together. Printing the song lyrics was something of a mistake, since they tend to range from fair ("The Blizzard of 1999," "Walking Home on the Emergency Bed") to awful ("Columbus Day," which somehow manages to be both smug and incoherent). But even at their worst, these guys are a breath of fresh, even bracing, air. Their debut was even better than this.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Vocalist/saxophonist Steve Sostak and guitarist Chris Daly began performing together in the South Bend, IN, group Check Engine during the summer of 1993, and played one show before breaking up in April of 1994. Two years later, Sostak and Daly started Sweep the Leg Johnny with bassist Matt Alicea and drummer Scott Anna while living in Chicago. They decided to incorporate a little bit of all of their influences, which included dissonant rock, progressive music, jazz, noise and punk. It immediately...
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