I fucking love pun band names.
I've personally been a member of Wollongong's worst ever garage rock outfit/leading pun name champions, The Wesley Snipers, since 2008.
I also play a continuous competition with my friends to try and out pun-ish band names, with some of my proudest creations being the Steven Seagulls, John Claude Van Damn We're Awesome and Enmortal Kombat. Alas, the reigning champions' trophies rest in the arms Jonny (Petersham, Paulysham and Marysham) and Adrock (Daniel Day Lewisham). Mark my words — I'll get you one day lads.
Several critics of Joanna Gruesome's Weird Sister record have made reference to the group's name, suggesting it's in some way holding them back from potential further success. I take exception to that point. Of course it's possible to succeed despite a shitty/hilarious pun name, with obvious reference to the greatest rock and roll band the world has ever seen — The Zombeatles.
No, the element that actually holds back Joanna Gruesome is not the ridiculousness of their name; it's their failure to embrace the style of music they most excel at — punk rock.
Too much of Weird Sister is an attempt to delve into the wistful landscapes of shoegaze and dream pop. Much of this album recalls the soppier moments of disgustingly overrated shitgaze merchants The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (now that's an awful name). Sure, the droning guitars and whispered nothings that float across Weird Sister are perfectly adequate, but they're also predictably hazy.
It's on songs like Secret Surprise and Graveyard that they grab tight and squeeze — popping the whiteheads on swollen pimples of potential — as each tune erupts and oozes with sludgy instrumentals, panicked vocals and a sense of urgency that seizes the listener and hurtles them into the bathroom mirror.
Whereas songs like Anti-Parent Cowboy Killers, Sugarchrush and Madison almost reach that point of pressure, but never reach a moment of release, as lead vocalist Alanna McArdle eases back into the breathy vocals she clearly feels safest delivering, instead of reaching into the back of her throat and wrenching out the shrieking howls she was born to make.
The only time they really do achieve the perfect, starry dream pop mixture is when they cover masters of the genre, Galaxie 500, and their classic 1998 number Tugboat. Sadly, however, the track only appears on the B-side to the Sugarcrush and not Weird Sister itself.
If Joanna Gruesome are fully intent on surpassing the awesomeness of their moniker with their music, then they need to embrace the literal meaning of the pun they so amazingly concocted, and wallow in the gruesome.