“I don’t play anything, ‘cause rock n’ roll’s not a game” – Johnny Habu
Johnny Habu has been a busy, busy bee these days. From his first album, “Home is Where the Banana Is”, we were treated to the extent of his instrumental skill on such songs as “Duct Tape and Alcohol” and “Marco Polio”. Less than six months later, he’s releasing two additional recordings – “Architect of My Own Existence” featuring all ukulele, and “Johnny Habu and the Rebel Salmon”, a session 10 years in the making. Reuniting with Iman Apeman, Wailand Shredwhidler, and Syd Putnam, he’s finally put to track songs that were written in high school… but this is no high school band, by any stretch.
The songs are lo-fi and delightfully funky, with an infectious groove and a dry, witty sense of humor. Crazy guitar riffs couple magically with intense drum skills and a bass that can best be described as sexy. Highlights of the album include “Zombie Luncheon”, which starts with this 70’s porno groove, but launches into greaser-style Mitsfitsish vocals. It paces like the Evil Dead movie. Plus, any album with a song about zombies sort of automatically gets an A+ and would have to actually try to suck.
The sound is like Primus or Cake in delivery and lyrical topics, and the band has the musicality to back up such claims. Johnny Habu’s vocals are like Danzig and Johnny Cash’s lovechild.
Particularly shining tracks are “Armless Shirley”, a morality tale of overcoming and succeeding by meeting your life counterpart and making it work. “Hey David” is fucking awesome, and best listened to through headphones for the full pestery homeless guy effect. The whole album keeps a good pace, with no major highs or lows throughout. There ain’t no slow dance here. Except perhaps “Dope Machine”. But that’s not a slow dance, that’s a deep, sexy sexy groove.
Johnny Habu, with or without the Rebel Salmon, is an experience of amazing musical talent and performance art. Like Tenacious D or Flight of the Conchords, the songs are compellingly hilarious, but at the same time touchingly true in the most cynically funny way. That certainly doesn’t mean Habu shouldn’t be taken seriously. He’s serious as a heart attack.