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"The Johnbenders "Self-Titled" EP Review"

Best Element: New-Wave with a unique balance of dancy drums, driving guitars, and emphatic, meaningful vocals.

You probably don’t want to be hit in the face with a nine pound hammer, but take a second to visit The Johnbenders’ Myspace page, click play on the first song, and you’ll feel the impact of “Nine Pound Hammer.” The first song on their self-titled, three-song E.P. breaks on you with a meaty, droning rhythm guitar strumming double-time, punctuated by a seething lead line. A straightforward snare melds into a modified punk beat, then surprises in the second verse, flipping into a dancy rhythm, flexing again into a machine-gun drive to accompany a bridge in the tune. Drummer, Donnie, amazed me as he morphed between various sections without a hitch, tossing in fills and uniting seemingly disparate styles.

Vocalist, Mark, is capable of floating a line with clarity, then following that up with a near-tortured howl that teeters on, but stays just this side of, the brink of breaking. On “Nine Pound Hammer,” Mark croons, “To work for it, to suffer it, no fleeting facts of redemption. So don’t even try to say you were there,” before gutting out, “I tried to make it right out on my, my own!” with everything he has. The contrast is

On “Thirteen Lights,” The Johnbenders back off the intensity, and ask more poignant questions. “Ask yourself,” Mark calls, “will you make it to the end, because your intermission is in a glass that you desperately try to keep full, but the coins keep slipping through.” It’s the tale of a resignation; a self-talk journal entry of half-hearted reassurance tinged with an ironic sense of self-awareness. Who said New-Wave couldn’t be introspective? And that’s where The Johnbenders surprised me… I wasn’t looking for much lyrical meat in these songs, but the emotive influence of confessional songwriting is undeniably apparent in “Thirteen Lights.”

The Johnbenders lay claim to a wide range of influences, combining the tried and true (Rites of Spring, The Cure, and Joy Division) with recent groups such as TV on The Radio, Interpol, and Bloc Party. As a testament to their musical roots—and unlike many bands who simply name-drop on their list of influences—I could readily pick out portions from each of the three songs on The Johnbenders that faithfully reflected bands they’d paid homage to. Not only does this say something about their musical diversity, it shows they’ve done their homework. In the new-wave genre, it takes more than simply rehashing one or two bands to make an impact, and The Johnbenders have managed to find a way to weave a good amount of recent musical history into these three songs. I think they’re onto something here.

--- Timothy C. Avery | Independent Clauses - Independent Clauses

"The Johnbenders"

I'm not sure what I was expecting from the cover art (half woman half skeleton) but I was surprised at what I got. The Johnbenders offer a mellowly agressive ro9ck that's a toe tapping good time. Great vocals, very smoothing sounding, offers a sing along alternative to all the screaming coming out right now. With catchy lyrics this 3 track disc is well worth checking out. There's enough of a range that people from different musical backgrounds can all appreciate The Johnbenders!

--- Elizabeth Benavidez | - Artsy Noise

"The Johnbenders - Editor's Pick"

Melodic pop-rock outfit (The Johnbenders) seems to literally lift one out of the doldrums of sub-harmonic daydreams into a new state of being that is awash in melody. Their songs are easily to chew through and certainly are extremely digestible. But hey that’s not all that bad is it? Radio-friendliness has its place damn it! I love the keyboard-centric tunes which give it a modern rock edginess that so many mainstream groups ignore. Nice!

--- J-Sin | -

"The Johnbenders (Self-Released)"

The cover is a fine parody of the Nagel (Duran Duran's Rio album cover, etc.) style, and the songs are similarly off-kilter takes on the rock side of new wave. The songs and vocals have that vibe, though the production is more modern and full. I like that. It's nice to hear an update done right.

--- John Worley | - Aiding & Abetting

"'The Single Sided Conversation' EP Review"

"...we recommend thejohnbenders new four song EP, The Single Sided Conversation in which good old emo-core fuses with modern crunch rock, delivered by four men (sic) who obviously want to help and change the world (playing Tsunami Benefits, etc.). The worshipful vocals ("sweet forsaken one") and spiraling, spindly guitar-lines of opener "Overpass" make the inevitably ferocious shouted chorus seem appropriate, as if drama is occurring, not just drama queens being shrill from one moment to another. The band recorded this debut with Kane Hodder producer Tony Dallas Reed in Port Orchard's Temple Sound, and the almost rock opera vastness of the results are impressive. Funny, just as this sort of thing seems played out, some bands use it to evolve rock itself."

--- Chris Estey, Three Imaginary Girls ("Astropop") - Three Imaginary Girls

"The Johnbenders "The Johnbenders""

The Johnbenders show off three distinct sides on their second release, a self-titled EP, and all of those sides are bright and energetic as they pull you in. With a new wave inspired sound, the band deliver bold, shrieking vocals in an unconventionally melodic way. Vaguely nostalgic, The Johnbenders can get the party started and keep it going with their fun and engaging self-titled EP.

Sounds Like: Modern spin on new wave

Key Tracks: “Nine Pound Hammer” -


4-Count Phil (single), All's Well Never Ends Well (EP), The Single Sided Conversation (EP) and The Johnbenders (self-titled EP)

The songs 'Nine Pound Hammer' and 'The 23rd' are receiving steady radio airplay across the Northwest as well as their four live "On Air" perfomances of 'Nine Pound Hammer', 'Thirteen Lights', 'Dissolution' and the unreleased track 'Spokane'.

Most of the above tracks are available for streaming and download at



Mark (vocals, guitar) and Otis (bass) had been playing together in a previous band for a couple of years when they decided they wanted to move in a new direction musically. They wanted to play music that retains a sincere, emotional center. The pair recruited Nate (Keyboards) and Donnie (drums) from a couple of other Seattle bands and began writing a live set's worth of songs. Before long, the band recorded a demo and started playing live shows across the Northwest and Canada. Eventually, the quartet started searching for a second guitar player to fill out their sound. And along came Joe. With their lineup solidified, the band began to expand their song catalog.

In June of 2005 the band headed into the studio to record their debut EP "The Single Sided Conversation" with producer Tony Dallas Reed (Schoolyard Heroes, Kane Hodder). Since the CDs release in the summer of 2005 the band has been performing live all across Northwest and Canada with such bands as Kane Hodder, The Ruby Doe, Idiot Pilot, Leuko and more. THE JOHNBENDERS have been receiving steady airplay on Northwest radio stations including KEXP, KGRG and KNDD (The End). The band has performed live on Seattle's 1077.7 FM THE END two times in the last year (an honor shared by a very few bands such as Death Cab for Cutie, Minus The Bear, Kane Hodder, Schoolyard Heroes and Harvey Danger).

THE JOHNBENDERS have a fairly strong, growing presence where they continually remain in the top of the charts for their region.

THE JOHNBENDERS recently finished recording their second EP with producer Tom Pfaeffle (Nirvana, Gatsbys American Dream) at The Tank studio. Mark and Otis took their brand new EP to CMJ 2006 (as paying participants) where they took part of as many panels as they could take in. The Johnbenders have been putting what they learned there to the test with great results! The band now plans to take their show on the road in 2007 as well as finding a label to call home.