MEandJOANCOLLINS
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MEandJOANCOLLINS

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Band Rock Alternative

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"He said-she said rock is hot in the Hub...While the he (singer/guitarist Bo Barringer) and she (singer/guitarist Jen Grygiel) haven’t been around long, they’ve already managed to add a nice haggard quality to the MEandJOANCOLLINS’ sound. Think good, gritty new wave with a bad, Britpop hangover."

Jed Gottlieb
Boston Herald
- BOSTON HERALD


"...a loud, well-dressed quintet from Cambridge...a high-energy combination of garage and glam rock..."

Brett Cromwell
Northeast Performer
- Northeast Performer


"MEandJOANCOLLINS sounds kinda like a garage band that would have surely been monumental in the �80s, and you�d never have expected such strutting, clap-along music to emerge from Cambridge. The quirky quintet will not only play Somerville�s Abbey Lounge this Saturday, but they�ll also, according to their MySpace, �get married.� Awww."

Boston Metro
- Boston Metro


At the onset of 2007, Bo Barringer was rebounding from an expired long-term relationship with the Collisions, his previous, decisively more tumultuous outfit. Searching for fresh companionship, he placed a Craigslist ad that caught the eye of Jen Grygiel, formerly of Steel Poniez, and the two proceeded to bond over drinks at Charlie's Kitchen. Last summer they tied the knot, unlawfully, at the dearly departed Abbey Lounge, with their bass player presiding. The chances that they'll ever consummate the marriage are not good.

"We're married, but we're both allowed to see other women," explains Barringer, vocalist and guitarist, while munching fried plantains at ZuZu.

"He wore the dress. I wore the tux. It was awesome," recalls Grygiel, also vocalist and guitarist. "We made out a lot. It was gross. Then I pulled the garter off his hairy leg with my teeth."

Despite the platonic nature of their relationship, Barringer and Grygiel have sired a euphonious offspring: MEandJOANCOLLINS (apologies to copy editors everywhere), which is, in spirit, an amalgamation of sort-of-love-stories, the most pertinent being a love of rock and roll. Barringer's love of, er, harmless fascination with Joan Collins is another. As it turns out, that didn't emerge until after noise-hindered communication regarding Jim Collins (later to become MEandJOANCOLLINS's bassist) had inspired the moniker.

Barringer: "She was touted as the next Elizabeth Taylor, and that kind of never happened. Her husband sold her to a sheikh in the early '60s. Then she did nothing of note for several years but made her big stroke of fame with Dynasty, when she was, like, 50."

The existence of this band, whose line-up is rounded out by Jason Marchionna on drums, was not disclosed to Collins during a brief meeting with Barringer. In fact, MEandJOANCOLLINS is spelled all funky with an eye to ducking possible copyright issues. Also, 'cause it looks cool.

But just because the association is incidental doesn't mean the band are so very different from the actress. Both are gracefully glam. Both have a foot planted in British pop culture. MEandJOANCOLLINS's inaugural album, Love. Trust. Faith. Lust., even sounds like the title of a '80s prime-time soap opera. And like any worthwhile soap, it's chock-a-block with visceral sleaze (also a prerequisite of glam), occasional uproariousness, and heart-on-sleeve vulnerability (usually symptomatic of indie rock).

"I don't look at writing as therapy, but it becomes therapeutic, in a way," says Barringer, in a rare moment of almost-self-seriousness. "As much as you want to write, 'She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah,' you still end up writing about your personal baggage. The challenge is to take that stuff and turn it into something that everyone can relate to."

Many people who don't read the Phoenix might well identify with "(I Masturbate) A Little Too Much," a strutting, impish number that italicizes Barringer's dithering vocal stylings. Likewise for the darkly casual "Typical Asshole." Although bordering on too-much-information, none of this comes across as forced for shock value. Just honest.

Much of MEandJOANCOLLINS's charm stems from the co-ed harmonies of Barringer and Grygiel. They also have a complimentary, call-and-response conversation style. "I can't sit down and write a song just to write a song," says Grygiel. "I write a couple songs a year, when I've got something to communicate with people and share."

"Which is good, because I tend to spew out garbage," continues Barringer. "I have boxes full of tapes, going back 10 or 12 years, that will never see the light of day."

The customary "band A combined with band B on drug Z" formula doesn't quite click for MEandJOANCOLLINS, so it's tempting to toss them under the "unclassifiable" bus. But they spared me any such hassle by being one of the few bands who can describe their own æsthetic.

"I just tell people we're a rock-and-roll band," says Grygiel. "In this day and age, everyone's afraid to say that. You have to have some fancy name: glam rock, indie rock, something. But rock and roll's cool. It works for us."

"We're post-glam mom rock," says Barringer. "We ended up calling ourselves mom rock for a couple of days."

"Then we stopped, because we were afraid we'd be quoted saying that," says Grygiel.

Barringer goes on, "As bad-ass as we want to be, my favorite bands are post-punk bands like Wire, Television, and Gang of Four. But I ended up writing hooky, Beatlesy-type songs that your mom would love."

And who among us has a mom who couldn't stand to masturbate a little less? - Boston Phoenix(Barry Thompson)


On this slickly designed, full-length debut, MEandJOANCOLLINS prove they're more than just a hard-to-type and cheeky moniker: They're a full-blown rock & roll spectacle. But in this three-ring circus, the starring role goes to the dual lead vocals of the now-married Bo Barringer and Jen Grygiel. It's particularly clear in the three re-recorded songs from their EP, like "(I Masturbate) A Little Too Much." The parity is more clear and the sexual tension is more pronounced. We can't remember a glam-rock sound that included two vocalists as such, so their updated big sound just seems that much more newfangled. They break from the form just enough as well�like in the dreamy "Typical Asshole." Love gives more ammo to a Boston band already locked and loaded. - Weekly Dig


Like the finest glam rock of yore, the Cambridge, MA outfit MEandJOANCOLLINS specialize in a sweaty fusion of sexual perversion and hard rockin’ bombast. But unlike the genre’s forefathers (T. Rex, Roxy Music) this indie-minded foursome steers clear of any campy theatricality and fantastical preoccupations with grandeur. The group’s debut LP shows more grit than you might expect from a band that readily admits to the influence of David Bowie and Marc Bolan. Odder still is that much of it sounds radio ready, despite song titles like “(I Masturbate) A Little Too Much” and “Typical Asshole.”

MEandJOANCOLLINS was formed from the ashes of groups like the Collisions and Steel Poniez, led by Bo Barringer and Jen Grygiel, respectively. A double threat with both their voices and their axes, they’ve been calling themselves newlyweds ever since onstage nuptials were orchestrated during a gig last summer. Rounded out by a formidable rhythm section comprised of James Collins (bass) and Jason Marchionna (drums), Love. Trust. Faith. Lust. achieves an impressive balance of indie tenderness, garage rock cacophony, and punk rock attitude over the course of 45 minutes.

The album’s first half is where we find the band indulging in its seediest fare. On opener “Crime Of The Century,” fuzzed out bass guitar and four to the floor drumming set the tone as Barringer describes his muse: “6 feet tall / long legs / long arms.” With swooning falsetto vocals in the chorus and some old fashioned hand claps here and there, the song definitely has a confident swagger about it. Next up is “All The Cowards In Her Path,” a track that seduces the listener with its atmospheric use of guitar delay and reverb effects. Lines such as “She’s a bitch with a purpose / she’s a bitch in bed” hit just a bit harder with all of the instrumental pomp and circumstance of the previous track removed. As might be expected, “(I Masturbate) A Little Too Much” is a quirky and uncomfortable affair, but that’s probably because both Barringer and Grygiel, using their trademark dual vocal attack, sound so earnest as they sing about what continues to be a cultural taboo. “(Come Take Your Boyfriend) From Behind” is another memorable instance of bawdy indiscretion, with a jaunty groove led by more FX treated guitars and delicious vocal harmonies.

The instrumentation in these early tracks rarely strays from the traditional rock n’ roll drums/bass/guitar blueprint, but the band’s lyrical fetishes make for one guilty pleasure after another. It’s the album’s latter half however, where we see Barringer and company actually taking some liberties with their style and songwriting. “Typical Asshole” features a summery groove that would be right at home on modern rock radio. With a tastefully executed guitar solo and acoustic accompaniment, the only radical departure from this newfound breeziness is found in the bridge, where heavy chromaticism and dissonance abound. “Electricity” finds the band going into garage blues territory that would do Jack White proud. With some string arrangements and mournful guitar licks, this slowburner’s sexiness is completely unforced. It’s also one the album’s finest moments. Augmented by some organ harmonies and epic guitar riffs, “Auditorium” is a worthy follow up to such understated track, sounding ready to have its way with the nosebleed seats.

The message of MEandJOANCOLLINS isn’t just one of carnal pleasures or sleazy fantasies (though there is a fair share of them, to be sure). At its most basic, this record is all about the sheer fun of playing in a rock and roll band. And with their roots firmly planted in the glam and indie scenes, the unpretentious music of Love. Trust. Faith. Lust. might just be the remedy for the self-serious hipster who needs to lighten up a bit.
- Delusions Of Adequacy(adequacy.net)


“From the couple times I’ve seen MEandJOANCOLLINS, I’m beginning to think they might be the best band from Boston right now … M&JC has a compelling package of music and charisma that’s hard to deny.” – Rob V, Cheap Thrills Boston. - cheapthrillsboston.blogspot.com


TLOS '09 Album of the Year contender: Love. Trust. Faith. Lust.
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MEandJOANCOLLINS deliver the goods. And I’ve seen it happen first hand, I wanna say, 10-15 times in the past three years. Take “M&JC Get Married” at the Abbey Lounge – a faux drag wedding between co-gtr/vocalists Bo Barringer and Jen Grygiel with bassist Jim Collins (no relation) presiding over the ceremony. After Grygiel kissed the bride, they launched into a cover of VH1’s 12th Greatest Power Ballad. (The Crüe has the power to transform a cheap publicity stunt into stroke of genius). It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen happen in Somerville. Another highlight was their 2008 WBCN Rumble performance; I was shocked and horrified to see them bounced in the first round.

(They're on their way. Just set them free. Home sweet home.)

They emerged from the wreckage of Barringer’s ex-band, The Collisions, several years before The New Collisions (no relation) crashed head-on into Boston’s music scene. (I apologize if my puns are sometimes too subtile). Their sound is an accessible mix of garage, glam, and British popular music (Bowie, T. Rex, Pulp, the Velvets, the Zombies, Spoon, Of Montreal – you get the idea) with hand claps, sleazy boy/girl vocals, and face-melting riffage courtesy of Barringer (his guitar work is featured even more heavily in the band’s excellent new material – a looser, more expansive crop of tunes, many written by Grygiel). I’d call the rhythm section their “secret weapon” if it weren’t for the fact that Collins (Gene Dante, The Buckners, Paula Kelley, Eddie Japan) and drummer Jason Marchionna (Fluttr Effect) are household names to many on the scene.

Love. Trust. Faith. Lust., the band’s debut album, is one of the best discs of 2009 – local, national, or anywhere. Standout tracks include the unbelievably catchy “That’s Not What Want,” modern breakup classic “Crime of the Century (So Far…),” breezy pop gem “Typical Asshole,” and brooding set closer “Strangest Thing.” Those tracks get an A+; the rest of the album gets an A.

MEandJOANCOLLINS celebrates Grygiel’s “dirty thirty” this Saturday, June 20, 11:00 p.m., at Allston’s Great Scott. The rest of the lineup ain’t bad either: The Main Drag (9:00), Ketman (10:00), Ho-Ag (midnight). So give the blogs a rest for a night and check out this great show. You really do need to get out of the house more. (People talking behind your back).
- thelimitsofscience.wordpress.com


"MEandJOANCOLLINS spit the kind of bravado-oozing, glam inflected Britpoppy rawk you’d expect to have spawned in London circa 1995, only it’s coming from four Cambridge(that’s Mass) rockers circa right now." - Boston Phoenix


"MEandJOANCOLLINS sounds kinda like a garage band that would have surely been monumental in the ‘80s, and you’d never have expected such strutting, clap-along music to emerge from Cambridge. " - Boston Metro


Discography

12-Song LP: Love. Trust. Faith. Lust. (April '09)

3-Song EP: From Behind

Single: Maybe You Can Breath Underwater, Tracy

Photos

Bio

Back in 2007, as MEandJOANCOLLINS singer/guitarist Bo Barringer was playing a few new songs for his girlfriend, she gave him some advice, “you’re a great songwriter, but you seem to be holding back, stop posturing and write from real experience…don’t be afraid to show some vulnerability.” Although this advice was infusing the songwriting of what was to become M&JC’s debut album, ironically, their relationship (and the band’s initial lineup) was unfurling thanks to an affair Barringer was having with a (now former) bandmate. He spent next year and a half trying to repair damages to the relationship and the band’s debut album, “Love. Trust. Faith. Lust.” (lead track, “Crime of the Century,” in particular) tells the story.

In the process, Barringer and co-singer/guitarist Jen Grygiel’s relationship grew and solidified, and a real chemistry emerged (as evidenced by their harmonies and complementary two-guitar attack.) They realized that through all of the personal turmoil and band member musical chairs that they were the two constants keeping the band together. And that’s when they decided to “make it legal” (UN-lawfully, of course). Jen and Bo booked their wedding in June of 2008 at The Abbey Lounge and asked fellow bandmate/bassist Jim Collins to perform the “ceremony” (she wore the tux, he wore the dress). Drummer Jason Marchionna played the wedding march, followed by a note for note version of Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home.” “Sure, it was a publicity stunt, but the wedding kinda sealed our union as a band...,” Barringer says.

Realizing the album tells the story of the breakdown and subsequent rebuilding of a relationship, the band decided to name the album after a line in one of the songs, “Typical Asshole.” The album title, “Love. Trust. Faith. Lust.” sums up the story and subject matter rather aptly. Full of 60’s-pop-by-way-of-80’s-college-rock hooks (“That’s Not What I Want”), their album also betrays a love for prickly post-punk (“All The Cowards in Her Path,” “Auditorium”), seedy glam rock riffing (“All the Men That Failed You”), and even a little pseudo-shoegazing grandeur (the six-and-a-half-minute “Strangest Thing”). These tendencies are sweetened by Bo and Jen’s boy/girl harmonies (her Kim Deal to his Black Francis, if you will).

Already in pre-production for a second LP with touring plans to support the album, the band now features several songs written by Grygiel, "Drive Me," “Reckless Woman” and “5:30 am,” as well as a cover of Sparks’ new wave-era classic, “Angst in My Pants.”