Let three minutes of Judah Johnson’s new break-your-heart, synthesizer-driven songwriting into your ears. Take in the reticent techno backbeat, the Dirty Three-worthy drones and the post-rock dolor of singer/songwriter/keyboard player Dan Johnson’s voice.
Let it in. By the time you stop listening, there will have been a shift, however minor, somewhere on your insides.
There was an inner shift for Johnson too, who describes songwriting as “my personal energy.” And as for his band, which formed in 2000, there has always been a certain superiority; they were always unpredictably melodic, always thoughtful and so adept at their instruments that at times they were an extension of themselves. While most bands struggle endlessly to find the crux of their sound, Judah Johnson was releasing terribly underestimated albums like Kisses and Interrogation — forever outgrowing rock ’n’ roll’s britches. And now after three major lineup changes and an alteration in ethos, they have split the seam.
The guitar is gone. In its place is a computer. On stage, two four-tracks, filled with months’ worth of manipulated and rarefied synth tracks, accompany the band.
The decision for the revolution in song production was a simple one, at least that’s how Johnson puts it. “I felt like we were stuck in the sound of 2001.”
Even in demo form, Judah Johnson’s latest works are naked and beautiful; this is the work of band that is totally in the moment.
“Your tastes just change,” he admits.
And while Judah Johnson continues this evolution, know that they have sincerely made the shift from rock band to artists.
See Judah Johnson at the Magic Stick (4120 Woodward, Detroit) with the Holy Fire. Call 313-833-9700 for more information. Friday, July 23.Eve Doster is the listings editor of Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]
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