Friday, October 13, 2017

Indonesian Junk - Stars In the Night

I've mentioned it before that Indonesian Junk's second LP was one of my most highly anticipated albums of 2017. Between the long wait since the first album (released 20 months ago) and Malibu Lou's continued guarantees of face-melting greatness, I had good reason to expect a great deal from Stars In the Night. With the album now officially out, I can tell you that I was not disappointed. In fact, I'd say my expectations were actually exceeded. This is up there with the top three or four albums of a really great year. If you dig the same type of stuff that I dig, I imagine that you will be quite keen on this release as well.

It's not that there's anything radically different about Indonesian Junk this time out. The Milwaukee trio continues to mix glam, power pop, and old New York punk influences in such a way that doesn't sound like any other band out there. But man oh man, Daniel James and company have absolutely knocked this record out of the park! This release was far more "professionally" recorded than the last one. That could have been a good thing or a bad thing, but it definitely turned out to be the former. And in an entirely good way, this album really plays to Daniel's knack for writing terrific pop songs. If anyone is still questioning whether or not it's possible to create poppy punk rock that sounds genuinely tough, Stars In the Night will show you how it's done. Propelled by irresistible guitar hooks and a chorus you just have to sing along with, "I Would Never Treat You Like That" is as catchy as anything you'll hear all year. The same could be said of "I'll Run Away" - a number so energetic and hook-laden that any resultant head-bobbing may lead to severe neck injuries. "Tonight" is the closest Indonesian Junk has ever come to a pure power pop song, and "Turn To Stone" is first class solo Stiv Bators worship. But while the poppier songs on this album are amazing (good luck getting "Why Did I Call You" out of your head anytime soon!), that's only the half of it! "Stars" is a loving tribute to Nikki Sudden and quite possibly the best song Daniel has ever written. "Nosferatu" will have you going from "What the fuck is this?!" to "This is goddamn brilliant!" within one listen. "Slow Down"  is like a sonic teleportation to the hey day of Max's Kansas City. "On The Run" is a wonderful closing ballad that brings to mind '70s Stones and Johnny Thunders.

There's honestly no other band out there quite like Indonesian Junk. In a scene full of way too many sound-alike artists, Daniel James is one of those rare genuine originals. He's good real personality, a flair for quality songwriting, and insane guitar skills. The very first time I heard his self-recorded demos for Indonesian Junk, I knew he was onto something good. And the records have continued to get better and better. With bassist Johnny Cyanide and drummers Mike Mattner and David Barootian, James has found the perfect musical partners in crime. Stars in the Night is everything I love about '70s punk, glam, pop, and good old filthy rock n' roll all rolled together and spat out in a wonderful and totally original way. Lou, you were right as always!


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