Justine and the Unclean – Picking a Fight / Sweet Denial (Rum Bar Records)


The indie radio charts don’t lie, folks. Justine and the Unclean are a band that have been riding high throughout 2019 and the trend is continuing into 2020 as I spy wireless plays from the likes of the great Rodney Bingenheimer amongst others. Having first come across the Boston foursome with their ace Be Your Own Reason single, I was itching to slap on the two latest cuts from their forthcoming full length which is due come springtime.

Picking a Fight is exactly what you’d expect from Justine and the Unclean; snotty punk attitude that’s more akin to the mean streets of New York in the late 1970s. Where the music is a hybrid of the Dead Boys and Ramones, the vocals come on like a much angrier Clare Grogan. The delivery is juxtaposed with a sugar sweet element which adds to the poppy feel. It’s a winning combination in my rock ‘n’ roll handbook, right down to the all too brief “hey, hey, hey” outro.

To say I was not expecting Sweet Denial is an understatement. Talk about a sucker punch when you’re looking the other way. With a monster power chord riff, the straight forward 1-2-3-4 approach is left behind in favour of a bluesier, hard rocking ditty. Perhaps it’s the band at their most serious; certainly their heaviest. It took a while to sink in, and whilst I prefer the bubblegum element of Justine and the Unclean, this track opens up your mind and lets you consider the band in a different light, and there’s no shame in that.

There’s no doubting that confidence is running high in the Unclean camp and this is a teasing 1-2. You get two contrasting takes from a band that are currently riding the crest of a (another) new wave . My whistle is suitably wetted for the forthcoming LP. Bring it on! Ginge Knievil

Check out Justin and the Unclean here

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