Johnny Panic/
Planetman/Jump The Underground
Cardiff Barfly, 13/10/06

Johnny Panic are fucking brilliant. I've said it many times (in fact, some of my friends threatened not to speak to me any more if I didn't stop saying it), but it's worth saying again. They make me sing in the shower and jump around my bedroom like a loon and still carry on grinning when I trip over the hairdryer and bash my knee. They make me want to go out and change the world. And yes, this review is 100% biased, utterly partisan hyperbole (as Steven Wells once said, in slightly different words - but let's not go there.) That's okay. It's justified, and the fact they're still playing to crowds of thirty people in venues hardly bigger than my living room is nothing short of criminal.

But more on them later. I had to sit through Jump The Underground, so you're going to as well. They get my hopes up with an initial punky blast, but within three songs they're degenerated into a kind of dreary Chas 'n' Dave emo (weird, since their MySpace profile claims they're from Wales and not London) that's even less inspiring than it sounds. By the time their set ends, even the band look like they'd rather be at home watching Jonathan Ross. Oh, and introducing every single one of your songs with "This one goes out to [insert mate's name here]" doesn't show off how popular you are -- it just makes you look like a knob.

I'm immediately put off Planetman by the singer's mutton-chop sideburns (yes, I do judge bands on their appearances, and if you don't like it you can fuck off to your bedroom and wank over the Magic Numbers, because I'm sure as hell not going to. Make an effort, you beardy bastards!) I'm pleasantly surprised, though. Okay, so their unashamed rawk is far from Earth-shattering, but it's energetic, fun, and does a decent job of setting the stage for the main attraction.

Ah yes. Now, maybe I'm hugely out of touch with the musical tastes of the entire rest of the country or something, but I really can't understand why Johnny Panic aren't stratospheric. It. Just. Does. Not. Compute. Because they're everything that makes punk rock brilliant, with none of the more-hardcore-than-thou joylessness that makes it not. They're all boundless energy and righteous fire and hooks that grab your attention round the neck and make it beg for mercy, and guitarist Matt James pulls these perfect ten-years-in-the-bedroom-mirror poses and Rob Solly attacks the mic like his head's going to explode if he doesn't get the words out. And "Automatic Healer" has this vast, vast skyscraper chorus that would be shaking enormodromes to their foundations if there was any justice on Earth, and even when they're playing to a handful of people (half of whom are sat at the back doing that arms-folded impress-me indie snob thing that I despise so fucking much) they still look like they're headlining Wembley. And. And. And.

I could go on forever, but I won't. Because those ten or fifteen kids who weren't down the back of the Barfly cutting off their noses to spite their faces were standing at the front, singing along like those songs meant something, and if you're reading this you're probably one of them. You already know. You know how vital, how fucking essential this band are. And you know how much rock and roll needs this kind of intelligence, this life-force, right now. You don't need me to tell you. And you know what to do. Go. Spread the word.

Jessica Trash

Pix from