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Johnny Dynamite and the Bloodsuckers

Countdown: Top Five Song Intros Of All Time Or Maybe Just This Week

photo by Ada Chen

Song intros! You’ve likely heard of them! Did you know one estimate says that roughly 92.7% of songs actually begin with “an intro”? It sounds fucking mental, I know, but it’s true! And as any motivational speaker will tell you...you only get one chance to make a first impression! That is, unless you have a rag soaked in chloroform handy! But most people don’t! Or shouldn’t! So yes! Song intros!

Bearing all those exclamation points above in mind this column is hereby dedicated to the "Top 5 Song Intros" from the past week, or month, or year, as a means of promoting Greater Song Introduction Awareness before it's too late. So now with no further ado…

05) Kissed By An Animal “Be”

First off, any song that starts off with a certain mid-tempo bass drum and snare rhythm (you know the one!) as in the one that makes you think you’re about to hear Joan Jett’s “Do Ya Wanna Touch Me” automatically makes the Top 5. And that’s not to dunk on Kissed By An Animal either because this is a cool song otherwise too—cool enough that I’m not even mad when it doesn’t turn into “Do You Wanna Touch Me”—with an intro that builds layer by layer with bass and guitar and the whole thing is a fun rock ’n’ roll journey. “So” can be heard on I Don’t Have To Explain Myself To You, an album released exactly a week ago.

And hey I don’t wanna dwell on Joan Jett too much here but if you'll humor me just compare the two versions of “DYWTM” below and tell me the Top Of The Pops version isn’t much superior to the "official" music video because the video makers had the nerve to lop off the iconic drum intro part which completely ruins the whole thing I mean wtf were they thinking?! (but at least this nicely illustrates my argument re: song intro importance…)

04) Joudy: “El Renacer”

This New York-via-Venezuela three-piece has the right idea on their single “El Renacer” (released a few weeks ago aka “The Rebirth” if you're a gringo) thrusting the listener directly into the most pit in medias res (Latin for “throw the baby into the deep end”) with the thrashing triplet guitar that's actually the chorus to the song so you see how Joudy pulled a “She Loves You” on us except of course it’s an instrumental version of the chorus here.

Joudy recently signed with Trash Casual which is a pretty groovy record label so good on them. And take it from me, these gents are totally sick on stage so wear a mask if you "catch" them tonight (7/15) at Arlene Grocery

03) Monarch “The Risk” 

Ok, you seriously didn’t believe you'd get through this list without any wind chimes did you? HELL NO! But wind chimes are in short supply these days in Brooklyn thanks to the global supply chain crisis so it's lucky that the instrument/patio decoration is native to Hudson Valley which means we get this charming track by Monarch who return to play NYC on 8/26 at Pianos

“The Risk” opens on a sustained guitar chord and a swell of everything else (including wind chimes!) and yeah I know this intro may only last for three seconds but that’s what makes it work—it wipes the sonic slate clean with a quick smear of sound before launching into a “Blue Moon progression with vocalist Sarah Hartstein sweetly intones some linesw about the night sky and the mysterious interconnectedness of the universe. Also, check out the soaring choruses and a very active bassline played by Jesse Hartstein.

02) Pan Arcadia: “Leaving Paradise”

Released last week or thereabouts, this is what’s known in the industry as a “statement song.” And as for the six rapscallions who make up Pan Arcadia they’re here to tell us they wanna rock and dammit if I believe ‘em because this song slaps. Which isn't to say these six gents haven't always rocked, but this is a more raucous affair than they’ve committed to tape before (live I've seen 'em rock to this level maybe but that's another story) and they assert this new rockatude right from the first microsecond of the intro (crucial!) which opens with a peal of feedback and a gliss down the guitar neck and then a Crue-worthy riff and a Who-worthy power chord/feral scream and would somebody please remind me when they’re leaving for the tour with Aerosmith again?

In the meantime, Pan Arcadia will appear at Bowery Ballroom tonight (7/15) opening for Quarters of Change. Apparently it’s a mostly if not entirely sold out show but a small clutch of tickets will reportedly be released at the door early this evening. Plus rumor has it they’re been cosying up with a former Rolling Stone editor lately so here’s hoping they remember the little people when they hit it big.

01) Johnny Dynamite & The Bloodsuckers “The Last Ones”

“The Last Ones” has been billed as being for fans of The Cure, M83, A Flock of Seagulls, and MGMT. And if you’re bold enough to propose such an esteemed musical familiy tree then you better get your song intro game on point son and boy did Mr. Dynamite nail it on his new single released just yesterday called "The Last Ones".

And when it comes to this particular musical demi-monde it's the achievement of the perfect chiming, twinkling, crystalline reverb-laden guitar arpeggiation tone and texture that's absolutely crucial if you even plan to aspire to be in a band with a fighting chance of getting a song placed on Stranger Things Season 5 and peeping the music video above for “The Last Ones” with its neon hues, pretty young things and graphic bloodletting makes me think this was maybe Johnny’s plan all along—a plan that now seems entirely plausible after hearing “The Last Ones.”

And yes it’s true that JD&TBS have already nailed the arpeggiated guitar intro once before with “Can’t Stop My Love” with its well-honed admixture of acoustic guitar and electric bass but still I think the new intro potentially nails it even more (even if it’s shorter) because it sounds like a glass menagerie in sound and more Cure-esque to boot, especially vis-a-vis the guitar line in the intro to The Cure's relative obscurity “To The Sky” or at least to my ears (don’t worry Johnny, I won’t sic Robert’s lawyers on ya!) and truly I could write a whole ‘nother article on Cure song intros because well I mean many of their song “intros” are more lengthy than the actual "song" (i.e., vocal) portions of thee songs themselves and just go listen to Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me if you don’t believe me. Song intros!! (Jason Lee)

The Cure long intro: https://www.reddit.com/r/TheCure/comments/ib0m76/what_is_the_best_super_long_intro_to_a_cure_song/

TO THE SKY: <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/By7QW2_7dh4" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Johnny Dynamite & the Bloodsuckers: New single and exclusive interview

When I recently got the chance to ask Johnny Dynamite¹ what old movie he’d like to see his new single “Bats in the Woods” magically and retroactively inserted into, he replied Lost Boys without hesitation (well, if an email can be sent “without hesitation”) and damn if isn’t an astute choice because A) there’s actual bats in the movie (not to mention actual bloodsuckiers) or at least they're strongly implied and these teenage vampire bats like to party in the woods; B) the song would be a perfect fit sonically for the Lost Boys soundtrack and it’d fit seamlessly in between tracks by INXS, Echo & the Bunnymen, and Lou Graham of Foreigner fame; C) just like that scene in the movie featuring the ripped, oiled-up saxophone guy thrusting his hips while singing about how he “still believes” in front of a burning trash bin and a coterie of screaming fans, Johnny Dynamite is likewise willing to go shirtless and to sport a mullet for his art and also to sing a heartfelt appeal to casting aside negative forces and getting “so outta here, so f*cking out of here” like Bonnie and Clyde on a motorcycle built for two.

“Bats in the Woods” is the third single and the opening track from Mr. Dynamite’s soon to be released LP titled Sleeveless (Born Losers Records) and I can see why he'd choose it to open the album because it establishes a really vibey <vibe> right off the bat with chiming guitar harmonics and gated snare and an insistent single-note bass line followed by an equally vibey melodic hook and that’s all before Johnny declaims the opening line “your bath is warm / I want to step in” and fair warning you may find your own hair suddenly forming into a mullet just from listening to this song—though I’m guessing less a Fabio style mullet and more like a cool Ric Ocasek mullet that'll have supermodels groveling at your feet and critics praising your musical creations.

Speaking of a fondness for warm baths you may be wondering about Johnny Dynamite’s other personal preferences and peccadillos and his personal history and fortunately this music journalist dug deep into the mystery and the results may surprise you. And so appearing here, for the very first time, we introduce to you our new “Vital Stats” column in which a profiled artist spills the beans on their favorite hobbies, turn-ons and turn-offs, and other intimate fun facts. And as you‘ll see below it turns out Mr. Dynamite is a pretty down to earth guy especially for someone named after an eyepatch-wearing, criminal-killing and ladykilling private detective who starred in his own series of hard-boiled, pre-code comic books from the early 1950s drawn and (in later issues) authored by Johnny’s own grandfather Pete Morisi



Current home: I live in a tiny bedroom in Ridgewood, Queens where I record all my tunes

Previous home: I grew up in Staten Island then lived in New Paltz for 5 years. After deciding to move back to the city, I lived in the East Village projects illegally for a year before my credit score was good enough to get a real apartment

Profession: I work in the art department for film when the jobs come in, otherwise I’m just a bike messenger who eats on food stamps

Hobbies: I love to ride my bike through the city really fast and I love to play Mario Kart & Sonic Racing. I think I have the need for speed

Last book read: kind of funny, but this past year my grandpa's comic Johnny Dynamite came out as a graphic novel and my pops got it for me for Christmas, that’s what I’ve been reading lol

Last accomplishment: I quit smoking weed

Favorite quote: "stay gold ponyboy, stay gold"

Turn-on: driving a fast car

Turn-off: driving a fast boat

Place you’d like to visit most: Tokyo... I love anime, I love sushi, I love the music, and I love a big city


¹ The Bloodsuckers were unavailable for comment.

² But unlike that other “Morrissey,” when Johnny Dynamite implores you to “take me out tonight” you can bet he won’t let you to get run over by a double-decker bus.

(Jason Lee)

Johnny Dynamite offers insight on them “Triflin’ Kids”

 Don’t let the name fool you. Johnny Dynamite and the Bloodsuckers sounds like it should be the name of a ‘50s tribute act that’d currently be touring the oldies circuit with Sha Na Na if not for deadly pathogens. But while their actual sound may diverge sharply from the Boomer generation, Mr. Dynamite does share a certain ethos with the early rock ‘n’ rollers in terms of emotive authenticity and sonic immediacy. He just happens to go heavier on the drum machines and the synthesizers than an old school piano pounder like Jerry Lee Lewis.

When he’s not busy hanging out with the Bloodsuckers, Johnny can be found pounding the non-digital skins for dynamite local bands like Whiner and Ashjesus or manning the boards on recordings by other artists. If you wanna know more check out this interview with Dynamite from shortly before everything went to sh*t conducted by Tom Gallo of Radio Free Brooklyn and Look At My Records! fame that focuses on the 2020 debut album Heartbroken.

So it’s just my own take of course but when I listen to Johnny Dynamite and the Bloodsuckers I hear traces of OMD’s groundbreaking electro artpop, the indie-defining delicate yet driving sound of Sarah Records, the wobbly synths and modern psychedelia of MGMT, and finally, the chilled out and washed out ambience of, umm, Washed Out—with said chillness represented lyrically in the refrain of “Touch Like This” (one of many highlights on Heartbroken) which asks repeatedly “Why are you lying on the floor?”

But yeah, the whole pop music lineage given above is just a way of saying that J. Dynamite has his own thing going on if it takes this many reference points to describe his sound, and that he simply makes good solid pop music whatever the chosen touchstones.

Like on “Triflin’ Kids” the new single that perfectly synthesizes (pun intended) what Johnny’s got going on—opening with a woozy call-and-response synth hook that slides straight into a breathy seduction-minded verse, and when that doesn’t seem to work, a more direct appeal in the chorus that strips away the gauzy disco rhythms and the narrator’s loverman facade. 

And therein lies the twist in which the song’s unabashedly needy narrator takes the “bedroom” in “bedroom pop” pretty literally or tries to anyway—which acts as a musical tribute of sorts (full circle) since triflin’ kids are at the heart and the soul of so much of the most impactful pop music from the past to the present and god bless ‘em for that.


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