B.A. Johnston

Shit Sucks

B.A. JohnstonShit Sucks
8
He may shout bawdily, curse fiercely and joke filthily, but at heart, B.A. Johnston is a shameless romantic. Who else would be sentimental — and astute — enough to equate their sweetheart with the junk food of a Swedish furniture chain's cafeteria? Indeed, Johnston's aptly titled "IKEA Hotdog" is a love song for the ages, and not only because it draws a relationship between his ladyfriend and one of those "irresistible" wieners; the tune is also elevated by his bouncy guitar playing and numerous, compellingly sing-along lines like: "Go down to IKEA to buy some throw pillow-oh-ohs, Ya know I'm gettin' in that hotdog line / See you down at the… bus stop / I know who I'm gonna sit beside." Such hooky musicianship proves Johnston has chops behind all his zaniness, and should be more than enough to silence naysayers who dismiss him as a novelty act.
 
Gloriously mundane, hilariously detailed anthems abound on the Hamilton born troubadour's latest effort, Shit Sucks. Throughout the LP, Johnston casts himself as Canada's pre-imminent slacker philosopher, especially on the opener "Couch Potato Alright," and even more so on "When Is Trash Day?" The latter's lyrics describe his garbage riddled home, as he sings that "cat food tins dot my landscape." It's the sort of post-apocalyptic, poignantly lyrical line that evokes Dylan's "Talkin' World War III Blues," and then far surpasses it. And while the songwriting on that tune is all rapid-fire Ramones-ish punk, the themes and tones are more suited to an inebriated Pete Seeger.
 
And while he may be prophetic in folk, Johnson is even more divine in front of a synth-pop backdrop, especially on the '80s-drenched "I Remember Skinny Jeans the Last Time Around" and "What a Wonderfully Mediocre Day." On the latter, he sings about what he'd do with one of Star Trek's virtual reality holodecks: "I'd make it look like my living room / And watch Next Gen all day." Take a minute to unwrap those paradoxical lines; they leave no doubt that he is a poetic lyricist and a nuanced existentialist. From the dance floor to the liquor store, from Hamilton to the holodeck and beyond, B.A. Johnston is our rhythmic saviour. (Mammoth Cave)
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