Jonah Leatherman RELEASES Jonah Leatherman (LP)
Being a rock n’ roll band in 2022 means something a little different than it did a half-century ago, but in terms of what works aesthetically and sonically, there isn’t much that’s changed between the old and new guards. Scenes have changed, hybrids are a lot more common, and while there isn’t as much focus on brawn in the mainstream as there used to be, when a band like Jonah Leatherman comes around, there’s no stopping the rock faithful from getting into their sound.
Jonah Leatherman is a band that knows when and where to use melodicism to their advantage, and while their self-titled debut is no tribute to the legacy of old fashioned pop music, there’s something to be said about the way these musicians apply basic theory to their deft use of intense sonic revelry. None of the filtration that I’ve grown accustomed to in this genre is present here, but instead a straightforwardness that has been wholly missing from the lot of rock releases I’ve been reviewing over the better part of the last year. The bombast of classic jams isn’t quite as evident in “Strings,” “Moody Judy,” or “Couldn’t Find Any Reason,” but beneath the cosmetics, this material has the soul of the gods within it.
Structure is clearly something that matters to Jonah Leatherman, and if this wasn’t true then they wouldn’t go out of their way to showcase technical brilliance in the form of “Westward the Wagons,” “Sunhat,” and “Mourning Glory,” all three being single-level tracks if I’ve ever heard any before. The production quality, as a result of this band’s careful attitude when it comes to execution, is pretty ace in this album, and scarcely does it ever sound like we’re listening to something that has been chopped and screwed together in the name of creating synthetic continuity. There’s simply too much guitar power in between the beats here to deny Jonah Leatherman their organic setting, and if they’re already as good at making a concept come together as they are in this record, one has to assume that they’re only going to get sharper as they accumulate more miles on their odometer.
This is one of the least frustrating new rock albums I’ve listened to this season, and despite its quite ambitious parameters, I think it’s creating a good starting point from which this group is going to reach a lot of curious fans. Of all the indie records I’ve come across in this genre lately, this is among the few that doesn’t carry the persona of another band on its shoulders, nor the overt influence of a specific scene or its politics. There are big things ahead for Jonah Leatherman following this rookie release, and if you take a peek at this tracklist, you’re going to find that they’ve got an appeal uncommon among many of the underground’s most popular new arrivals in 2022. They don’t care about the cinematic effect – they came here to rock out, and they’re killing it on that end for sure.