By Jess Alatorre | August 3rd, 2010
Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley and her singer/songwriter boyfriend Johnathan Rice have teamed up as the newest girl-boy duo on the music scene. Can Jenny and Johnny give She & Him a run for their money? (Let’s hope so!). Their surf-inspired, playful indie tunes are already creating a buzz, even though only two songs have been released from the forthcoming LP. So here’s Indie Shuffle’s sneak peek on Jenny and Johnny…
To date, two songs have been officially released from their upcoming LP, “I’m Having Fun Now”. If the two songs are representative of the rest of the album, Jenny and Johnny may be worth an extra 45 minutes of your time. “Big Wave” is definitely my favorite of the two. Lewis hits a point where she almost sounds like Elizabeth Powell of Land of Talk, with just a dash less grit. “Scissor Runner” gives both Jenny and Johnny a chance to feature their vocals in a sort of call-and-response indie pop beachy song duet.
While the comparisons to She & Him are obvious (mostly based on a musical boy-girl duo), the music is distinctly different. Zooey Deschanel offers of old-school 1950s sad country-girl gloss, while Jenny Lewis offers surfed up pop reminiscent of the 1960s and 70s. Is the story behind the band adding to the interest? Sure.
As a musical couple, Jenny and Johnny are having fun now! She & Him seem to either elicit an immediate love or hate reaction from most people (just check out previous comments on Indie Shuffle). My sense is that Jenny and Johnny will have broader mass appeal, with Lewis’ unmistakable vocals driving an album that hopefully expects itself to be better than just good. The Jenny Lewis-Rilo Kiley connection may be exactly what’s causing all the buzz around Jenny and Johnny.
While the twosome’s website asks us to see this as a Jenny and Johnny project (casting aside the artists as individuals or their other musical involvements), I’m having a hard time drawing a line between this and Rilo Kiley. Jenny Lewis’ vocals are strong as always, and her tone so individual that it still just sounds like Jenny Lewis a la Rilo Kiley and that’s not necessarily such a bad thing either.
Jenny and Johnny recently announced they would be skipping Arizona on their upcoming tour as a way of boycotting the state’s controversial immigration policy. While they’re far from the first musician to make that decision, their choice itself has been controversial, as some point out that it’s their fans that miss out. However, Jenny and Johnny have made their case— “this bill legalizes and sanctions racial profiling. They can stop you in the street, arrest and even deport you based on what you look like. We say: fuck that. So many of our friends and fans are of Latino/Chicano/Hispanic origin, and we wanna show our love and respect for them by boycotting the state of Arizona until they come to their senses. To all our rad Southwestern peeps, we’re sorry that the brutes are running the show and we hope they get voted out of office. Love, JandJ”.
Jenny and Johnny’s debut LP is out on August 31. You can get your hands on “Scissor Runner” now from their website.