The nicest thing anyone has ever said to Jo Hirabayashi, frontman of Jo Passed, is that his band's debut album sounds like "fucked-up Beatles." Titled Their Prime, the LP does sound like fucked-up Beatles. It sounds like, somewhere across an ‘80s universe, Lennon and McCartney discovered Can and Neu!, and maybe a little Sonic Youth and XTC along the way. Opening with "Left," it demonstrates that timeless knack for dreamy melodies – chord progressions that sound like they were created in a land far far away. Lyrically, however, it's imbued with a philosophical longing for answers to questions that have resurfaced for the first time since the explosion of counterculture in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Jo's approach to Their Prime was to create a collage record of everything he's inspired by. The first half of the record begins with the most doom-laden themes. "Left," "MDM" and "Glass" are particularly end-of-the-world-y. "The songwriting was finished the day Leonard Cohen died, which was two days after Trump's victory, so there's a lot of that energy in the record," he says. On the more celebratory tip comes "Undemo," which is a song about communities of show goers and DIY music scenes. Physical spaces are so important in our social media-obsessed world. "Facetook" is a comment on that, whereas "Millennial Trash Blues" (a tongue-in-cheek poke at Bob Dylan) makes direct reference to this concept of the "snowflake generation."
In as much as there's matter-of-fact depictions of harsh realities, there's also a sense of hope. None more so than on "Repair," which was written the day of Trump's election. It combines soft melodies with walls of chaos.