The Johnstones - Word Is Bond (Cover Artwork)

The Johnstones

The Johnstones: Word Is BondWord Is Bond (2006)
Union Label Group

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: SloaneDaleySloaneDaley
(others by this writer | submit your own)

*Sigh*, the `90s: the Chrétien and Clinton administrations are in full swing, Tom Cruise isn't completely scary yet, and teenagers all across America are finding sweet release in the sounds of ska, pop-punk and hip-hop. As if to crack open a time capsule from this not so distant past, Ajax, Ontario.
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*Sigh*, the `90s: the Chrétien and Clinton administrations are in full swing, Tom Cruise isn't completely scary yet, and teenagers all across America are finding sweet release in the sounds of ska, pop-punk and hip-hop. As if to crack open a time capsule from this not so distant past, Ajax, Ontario's the Johnstones release Word Is Bond.

The Johnstones combine the upstroke guitars, horn section and organ of third wave ska with power chords, acoustic guitar and funk leanings. They tend to have pop-punk-oriented lyrics focusing on girls and having a good time but also throw in hip-hop braggadocio. With these elements the band is extremely adept at transferring the most appealing quality of ska from the live setting to recorded form; that quality is fun. The silly lyrics, the multitude of instrumentation, and the many voices that chime in all sound like one big chaotic party. The only problem with that vibe is the album is too late for summer.

The opening song is a fairly standard ska-punk song, with "whoa-oh"s and the vocals delivered in an unintelligible skat-like manner, not at all bad but nothing too memorable either. Next comes the song "L.A.D.I.E.S." which one almost feels guilty listening to and enjoying so much. Having ridiculously rapped verses with lines like "hey yo check it so ladies, why don't you have all my babies, it's doggie style but I don't have rabies" that might make you cringe, but the way they are delivered you can't help but smile. The chrous is an anthemic bit, using a catchy guitar line and repeated hook of "This is for the ladies!."

Mainly where the band falters is in the structure of the record. "Sunny Days," which is an acoustic pop song with some light reggae tinges that would please the sandal and popped collar golf shirt-wearing crowd is really quite good (think Jack Johnson, that's right, I know what Jack Johnson sounds like). It has an infectious breezy attitude, catchy lyrics, some nice room to just let the guitar play and the laid back rapping is reminscent of something like the Pharcyde. However the song comes in at track number 5, totally tripping up the moment the album was building. It would have been far more effectively placed at either the beginning as a pseudo-intro to the party or some calming hangover music at the end. Speaking of the end, the album's cohesiveness falls apart when it is coming to a close. It finishes on the completely unnecessary second version of "L.A.D.I.E.S.," and before that is the false ending of "No Song Here‚?¶" which is really a funky group rap after a few seconds of silence. It starts promising but is ruined by the use of the ever-classic "fart" bass and useless talking parts.

Beyond the structural problems, slightly weak lyrical content and one or two choruses that don't really work, what you have is very enjoyable modern ska CD. If you are searching for a feel-good record to help melt away those dreary November days, this may be the one you're looking for. If you don't like any rapping I do suggest you stay far away from this because there is a heavy emphasis on that sort of delivery.


People who liked this also liked:
The Planet Smashers - MightyThe Transplants - The TransplantsLess Than Jake - Borders and BoundariesRancid - ... And Out Come The WolvesThe Clash - London CallingLess Than Jake - Hello RockviewLess Than Jake - Losing StreakRancid - Life Won't WaitRancid - IndestructibleStreetlight Manifesto - Everything Goes Numb

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
xfallenx (June 29, 2011)

fuck this band

nedsammy (December 24, 2010)

i heard the track on the Ska is Dead comp, read this, and bought it, ages ago. The lyrics are just funny, it's trashy, throwaway, and just a load of fun. i like it.

so nyaaaa

red_eyed420 (January 1, 2007)

wow wow wow! This cd honestly represents what the ska music is all about and that's just having a fun time. The hip-hop style of lyrics actually really works for these guys and it's there live energy and brilliance that seperates these guys from all the other pretenders. Thanks for the breath of fresh air Johnstones!

melll (December 20, 2006)

I've never enjoyed a concert/show more than the Johnstones shows I've been to ... the energy is amazing. They're so good.

As for the rumour. I haven't talked to anyone from the band much, so I'm not saying I know them personally. But they're nice guys. It's just solid bullshit to say any of them would do something like that.

So whoever started it.. go play in traffic.

wedotheska (December 10, 2006)

and anyone who actually takes the johnstones lyrics seriously is stupider than helen keller

Anonymous (December 6, 2006)

i fuckin love the johnstones they came to my school last friday and i just have to say im in love with all of them so if any one disagrees with me they have serious issues and need to get them sorted out!

Anonymous (November 23, 2006)

haha, its pretty funny how one person can make up this ridiculas rumor and every belives it

millman (November 23, 2006)

great guys and a solid ska album, mcmaster represent!

SloaneDaley (November 20, 2006)

well now that is a different argument really. I would praise Fucked Up too I happen to love triumph of life BUT it is far more effective in the context of Hdden World rather than a 7" single. It did work as a teaser for the album but as for compartmentalizing the ideas within the album Dangerous Fumes did it more effectively thats why that got a higher score. an argument could easily be made that the aim for this record was to be a fun record and it accomplished its goals for what it is nothing more nothing less. If the aim was an effective socio-political commentary it failed but that isn't what the records aims were. I'm not under the belief music has to be about that all the time, you maybe be under that belief and if you are than by all means give this a half mark. But under the idea of this band accomplishing their goals 7 out of 10 is how effectively I rate that. I'm glad you like Fucked Up though, they are one fo my favourite bands currently active.

Anonymous (November 20, 2006)

Oooh. I appear to have struck a nerve. Listen, all I'm saying is that this band is garbage, and Fucked Up isn't. Regardless of genre, bands like this do not need to exist and bands like Fucked Up should. You as a reviewer on a popular music website should be attacking mediocrity and praising integrity. Of which this band has none of the latter, but is full of the former. Unless you just don't care about shitty, boring, generic music getting pumped out all the fucking time.




SloaneDaley (November 20, 2006)

they're not. one is vapid, pointless and sexist. the other is, well, triumph of fucking life. if you don't get it, it doesn't matter. carry on.


"get it"? obviously you seem to have problems following a logical process. The two releases are of different genres, by different artists and different formats therefore there is nothing about them that can be judged against the other. There is no line of reasoning that could lead one to believe that the score of one impacts the other. So my giving one a higher or lower score should really have nothing to do with other right? right. You sir are wrong, better luck next time though. When you attempt to be condescending you could try and you know actually have a point. carry on.

Anonymous (November 20, 2006)

they're not. one is vapid, pointless and sexist. the other is, well, triumph of fucking life. if you don't get it, it doesn't matter. carry on.


SloaneDaley (November 19, 2006)

keep it up

SloaneDaley (November 19, 2006)

how are the two related in any way shape or form?

Anonymous (November 19, 2006)

"this is for all the ladies" gets a 7.

triumph of life 7" gets a 6.

keep it up!


Anonymous (November 19, 2006)

pure crap.

Anonymous (November 19, 2006)

a member of this band is in their 20's? i assumed it was all 16-17 year olds due to the level of childish content in their material.

eyeslikebombs (November 18, 2006)

score is for album title.

Anonymous (November 18, 2006)

in all fairness, Brent the bass player is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.

Anonymous (November 18, 2006)

90's ska, pop-punk and hip hop sucked ass.

Ok, maybe not hip hop.

timcognito (November 18, 2006)

i logged in so i could give them a shitty review.
i'm the dude who's been posting anonymously for a bit now.

Anonymous (November 18, 2006)

i'm pretty sure it was the drummer and the guitarist that drugged her.
i was helping out at a show in oshawa, and it happened.

i could have hurt them.

yeah, the suck even after the mountains of coke they do.

if punk rock has taught me anything in life, is that coke is not cool.

SloaneDaley (November 17, 2006)

the drummer from this band, that guys from The Blackout Pact and that armed robbery dude should form a band.

Anonymous (November 17, 2006)

recorded stuff doesnt hold a canlde to their live show

they dont take themselves eriously and its just a huge party

baseball (November 17, 2006)

heard a couple songs...not the whole album

some silly tunes, but awfully catchy

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