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Fuzz is love: this split EP sees noise punx Joanna Gruesome continue their persistent assault on our indie rock ears with their pissed off shoegaze and gleefully screamed vocals. On the other side, though, there's also the one-man-band Trust Fund, which belongs to Ellis Jones, who makes a sound that lands between grainy indie rock and unhinged folk punk, and who has definitely listened to Neutral Milk Hotel in his time on this good planet.
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For me, Trust Fund remains one of the most exciting developments British indie rock has seen in forever, an act with an endless wealth of musical versitality who never loses his emotional resonance in the mix. Ellis Jones can fill a bill with a bunch of folk punks who wear their beating heart on their burning sleeve, but you'll also find him among the slew of fuzz rockers screaming into their amps and arguing with their guitars. It's easy to call him a throwback artist, considering his reverance for '90 indie rock (which showed most obviously on his recent cover of Pavement's slackiest-of-the-slack "Range Life" for 'Jam Kids'), but his sound is actually part of a very contemporary DIY stronghold that collects together bands like All Dogs, Swearin', Joanna Gruesome and Slouch -- acts who have studied guitar rock 'til they've become professors, but who also know a thing or two about spitting out feelings. His side of this split proves he's one of those rare artists who's able to transcend what we expect of guitar music without doing anything particularly revelatory -- on "Reading the Wrappers", he weaves wiry pop-punk riffs into a hot-tempered outburst of fuzz and gleefully mixed drums, making for a tune that feels intimated between bedrooms but also shared at shows. The song, as always, is led by Jones' empathetic songwriting, making a compelling narrative out of gentility and hushed love -- his idea of a dramatic kiss-off is to ask "Is there anything else I can do to help?". Jones' songs are a subtle kind of raucous, inviting you to search for the hooks and re-read the stories. That might be my favourite thing about his work, even if it's taken him a while to get to this point as a result.
Uh, yeah: you're probably here for Joanna Gruesome, I'm guessing? That's cool. They, too, are great, and have been making Leeds their capital city lately, frequently turning up as the support to other indie punx, as well as being the lead act they deserve to be now and then. Their output has already shown them off as indie rock's answer to thrash (not the Slayer kind, although that's a mash-up I'd welcome), and the three cuts offered here do all the things they should: the feedback screams like we're watching the change-over between songs at a grindcore gig, the dual vocals slow things down to a beautiful, sombre lull, and the call-and-response of their crunchy verses/sweet-riffed choruses plays out superbly. Joanna Gruesome remain an all-too-secret singularity in the channels they're working in, having made us realise dream pop and noise rock are the same, monstrous thing (I think they also ate Dean Wareham?). The way they're able to incorporate the two in these songs is kinda inspiring; the version of "Satan" here cries out with pain, like a turned-on amp's being cut down with a saw, while the band mumble a slow-burning indie ballad, immune to the distortion. "Immune to the distortion" would have made a good name for this split, to be honest. Don't let noise infect you: these artists prove pop songs are the vaccination.
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- Split EP by Joanna Gruesome / Trust Fund
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