The self-titled debut EP from the Michigan quintet Judah Johnson finds the group engaging in patient, sterile-sounding glacial sweeps. While the band has a gift for melodic invention -- parts of "Tongue Kiss on Ecuador" stand out as particularly striking -- the songs are too fragmented and filtered, perhaps intentionally, to have much of an impact. The song structures are non-linear, not because it seems the music needs it, but because it seems the thing to do. In the subsequent Radiohead and Elliot Smith-influenced pastiche, the band has a hard time finding alternative methods of framing. Part of this stems from the earnestly low-mixed vocals of primary songwriter Daniel Johnson, whose singing-to-his-feet vocal approach loses its charm on record. Lyrically, he seems quite strong, offering complicated emotional tone poems. Unfortunately, it is almost universally impossible to hear what he is saying.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jesse Jarnow