Clamouring, urgent + genuine protest punk
Charlotte Marston
14:23 21st October 2020

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The Faroe Islands: home of conservatism, rampant misogyny, unbridled homophobia...and bisexual vegan shitpunks Joe & The Shitboys. While the Islands do have a lively music scene thrown into the mix, there are only a handful of punk bands, with even fewer opposing or actively calling out the archipelago’s conservative tendencies. Joe gathered his band of Shitboys to do just that: oppose the ‘shitty’ behaviour they saw around them in their hometowns. The foursome’s debut album fearlessly pursues this mission - The Reson For Hardcore Vibes is a ten-minute long tour de force. Flamboyant frontman Joe’s biting satire is merciless, and nobody is safe from his sharp tongue or the torrent of disparaging humour he hurls. 

With a succinct track-list of songs that are over almost as soon as they’ve begun - each barely tops a minute in length - the record has an surprisingly organic charm. Despite the shrewdly titled ‘fuCk’ lasting all of three seconds, the album is nowhere near as jarring as you’d expect. Each track is abrupt in its conclusion, but rather than being annoying or disorientating, the album's curtness is all part of its allure. 

With highly-anticipated UK and European tours postponed to 2021, remnants of the foursome’s high energy live shows are peppered throughout the album. Charismatic frontman Joe storms into opener ‘Drugs 4’R Kids’ with a bellowing cry of "we are Joe & The Shitboys, 1234", evocative of the live environment we all miss. The bombastic opening track deftly combines Joe’s comical, deprecating wit with scratchy, menacing riffs that are so highly charged we can almost envisage the foursome ricocheting around a stage. Title track ‘The Reson For Hardcore Vibes 2’ recreates the ambience of a sweaty, cramped venue— however unobtainable that may seem in the current climate— with bellowing, heavily-laden vocals pitting themselves against Joe & The Shitboys gutsy punk rhythms. 

Perhaps the most sonically complex moment of the album is the pivotal and almost lyric-less ‘Wonderwall.’ There is a clamouring desperation to the track as the band take a step back from scrappy, guitar-laden rhythms and instead craft a minute or so of noisy-yet-methodical chaos, interrupted only by raucous screams from the intrepid frontman. Carrying an anarchic dissonance that is best compared to the angular rhythms and divergent structures of math-rock, we have a second to step back from Joe & The Shitboys moral messaging to reflect on the ingenuity that underpins the project. 

Marking a return back to the band’s customary antagonistic, guitar-driven punk, ‘Macho Man Randy Savage’ is a scathing caricature of toxic masculinity. In the short minute-and-a-half span, frontman Joe bombards us with commentary on everything from slut-shaming to homophobia, sexual assault to gender. The bombastic frontman’s theatrical quips— ‘you identify as an attack chopper’ and ‘you’re not gay you chug beer cans’— are so well-executed they could have been plucked straight from the Manosphere. As belligerent guitar rhythms meddle deftly with Joe’s brash vocals, there is something decisively efficacious about confronting misogyny in a track that is cut so stereotypically from the angry-white-men-with-guitars cloth. 

The bands indelible lyricism is more pertinent than ever in our present moment and a self-proclaimed ‘queer vegan’ space is exactly what men in the music industry need to be providing right now. All too often have men used performative activism to sell their records, yet are ready to sit idly on the sidelines letting misogyny, sexism and homophobia go unchecked. Joe & The Shitboys unforgiving confrontation and matter-of-fact insults are desperately refreshing. 

The band are no strangers to embellishing their scathing gibes with light-hearted humour and quick-witted parody, and for all its earnest political discourse, The Reson For Hardcore Vibes doesn’t take itself too seriously. The callously comedic ‘If You Believe In Eating Meat Start With Your Dog’ is one such highlight. Following the established Joe & The Shitboys trajectory, the track begins right in the midst of the action and is so fast-paced it leaves us little time to catch our breath and reflect on the torrent of pro-vegan propaganda being oh-so-tactfully hurled our way. 

If you’re looking for earth-shattering sonic innovation or elegantly adorned lyricism, you’re looking in the wrong place. With Joe & The Shitboys, you don’t have to dig deep in search of some deeply profound meaning or quasi-political truth. The Reson For Hardcore Vibes isn’t groundbreakingly avant-garde, but that isn’t the point. The record is full of a clamouring urgency that seems more relevant than ever in our current climate, and Joe & The Shitboys’ agitated, fearless desperation delivers where their self-proclaimed political punk contemporaries have failed. The album fosters a straight-talking atmosphere and the Joe & The Shitboys approach is very much come as you are— and have your morals and behaviours challenged in the process. 


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Photo: Press