Johnny Hoffman & The Residents – Heart Of Stone, Smoking Gun

 Johnny Hoffman & The Residents – Heart Of Stone, Smoking Gun

Johnny Hoffman & The Residents – Heart Of Stone, Smoking Gun – Album Review

EIGHT YEARS!  That’s how long it has been since the last time we interacted with Johnny Hoffman & The Residents, can you believe it?  You’d have thought at least one of the two of us would have collapsed by now, yet here we are, eight years later on down the road, both still standing, both still kickin’ ass on an independent level…you gotta love it.  Long ago in a galaxy far, far away, while we were still setting up shop in the first location of sleepingbagstudios, we put a video called “Suzy” into an episode of SBS Live This Week back in the day, which I don’t even know if you can find anywhere else online at this point – I’ve taken a look, but all I can see is a single they released called “Suzier” last year.  Sequel?  Who knows.  I’m just glad these dudes are still out there doin’ their thang…they actually seem way more into it now than they even did way back when…which is actually sayin’ quite a bit because they’ve always been rad and right into what they do.  Fun fact…there is actually no Johnny Hoffman in Johnny Hoffman & The Residents.  This is actually a duo of Joseph Krassin (Vocals, Guitar) and Dylan Miller (Drums).  Push play!

As “Smoking Gun” begins, you get that raw edge to the band’s sound that has always been a main staple of the live-wire vibe in Johnny Hoffman & The Residents.  I can dig it y’all…how could I not?  More importantly, how could YOU not?  From the onslaught of its main hooks, to the wicked groove laced into the way they blast their way through this opening instrumental cut, Joseph & Dylan are back at it again, thrashin’ their way from Everett south of the border where I’m at, kickin’ out the jams all the way here into Canada.  Bonus points for the remarkable shift in the sound just prior to the fourth minute, where they slow everything down and actually become downright captivating if you ask me.  Don’t get me wrong, I was already enjoying the hell outta the way “Smoking Gun” began, but the ending to this track is quite arguably sensational.  They serve up a slice of audible awesomeness two ways here on their first savage cut, giving you a ferocious & fired-up beginning, that slides right into the smoothness of its second half.  Workin’ the magic of this main riff for all that it’s worth, they’ve got a great start to this new album, the third in their catalog to-date, and from the sound of things, far from the last for sure.

You’re about six minutes into this album before you’ll hear Joseph’s ever-odd vocals creep on through your speakers in the second track “HIspanic.”  I believe that’s the title…it’s weird…you can look pretty much everywhere you can think of online to confirm that, but you’ll only find the new Johnny Hoffman & The Residents record released exclusively at the Queen Pacific label page currently, and they don’t list the tunes, just the fact that they’ve got the album and you don’t yet.  You can change that by purchasing it from there of course…but for now, we’ll just have to go by the file names I’ve had shipped over to me.  “HIspanic” it is!  Who would I be to second guess them anyhow?  I really like what these dudes are up to on their latest record y’all…I dig the beat & the melody they’ve got goin’ on as “HIspanic” begins, and I love the way that it basically explodes into a fireball of Garage-Rock-meets-soulful-melody.  It’s raw as all hell, and there’s no doubt about that…but it’s entirely listenable, and probably ends up being a whole lot cooler than any way I could personally describe it.  Would I go see this live?  Heck yeah I would!  It’s clear that these guys are proud to do things differently…Johnny Hoffman’s got that slight hint of psychedelic craziness to them…that mixture of madness & mayhem that makes you genuinely curious as to what they’re going to do next.  An unpredictable energy that really does make them 100% different than the vast majority of what’s out there…call me the crazy one if ya like, but I fuckin’ dig different.  And to be completely fair to the band, you can find this particular track out there as an advance single that was dropped online last year – it’s actually called “His Panic” – click it below to have a listen!

Then there’s “Hos.”  Not necessarily in different area codes…likely in the same one that they are in I’d guess, but I suppose they COULD be somewhere else.  It would make the most sense that the “Hos” they’re writing about would be local, but I really can’t speak to where they’re comin’ from.  Oh wait…this is an acronym for half of the album’s title?  “Heart Of Stone?”  Why the heck isn’t this kind of stuff included in my notes over here…all I’ve got are weird file names to get me through this!  Anyhow.  Love the way the vocals come out in this track…the crisp beat from Dylan and the guitar melody from Joseph are a freakin’ deadly combo on this cut too.  “Hos” gets my approval yo…this is that underground vibe done RIGHT.  Johnny Hoffman & The Residents really have a grip on raw eccentric sound, but they OWN it, you know what I mean?  A lot of people will go into the unknown with a bit of trepidation, but these two dudes are like, fuck that, we’re goin’ in head first with full confidence.  It’s completely paying off though – “Heart Of Stone” is a solid example of the magnetic pull their tunes end up having, and the crucial way that character and personality can pay off big time when it comes to the art of makin’ music.  LISTEN to that spot around the thirty-second mark where they slip right into the thick of the groove of this track will ya?  Every single time they shifted into it, I was like ‘yoooooooooo “Hos” has got it GOIN’ ON y’all.’  With the kickassery of the vocals comin’ into play just around the corner, this cut is full of wild highlights.

“Klack” roars into place with force as it kicks into gear, then dials back for a smooth groove that will definitely get your attention.  Wash, rinse, repeat, they slide seamlessly between these two gears perfectly, rippin’ it up at their most intense, then cutting it bare to a bare-bones groove.  Johnny Hoffman & The Residents is like a Black Keys that I’d actually listen to – and how awesome is that?  No disrespect to the fans of the Black Keys out there, and total disrespect to the actual Black Keys – but yeah man, I’d listen to this record every day of the week over what that band has been sellin’ ya over the years.  I suppose it’s kind of like that, with a hint of something bizarre like Primus, maybe some of the raw power you’d find in something like Death From Above 1979 sprinkled in for good measure – “Klack” is a whole lot of weirdness, a whole lot of killer vibes, and a whole lot of FUN to listen to as well.  Whatever they’ve done right at the end…where it’s either like…a typewriter acting as drums or Dylan pounding on buckets filled with glass recorded from miles away…whatever that is, I want more of that.  These dudes can get away with all kinds of innovative creativity with the kind of sound they’re creating, so I figure embrace that with open arms gentlemen…”when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

“Changing Winds” will mess with your head in the way that it starts…and don’t get it twisted, it’s entirely intentional.  So that’s it, fuck it, I’m crackin’ a beer.  Don’t matter that it’s mere minutes past morning over here in Canada, they know a track like “Changing Winds” pairs well with an altered state of mind.  Not only does it make for a more challenging listen, but it would be outright tough to play as well.  Do they get the maximum potential out of this track?  Honestly…it’s hard to say.  I have my moments with “Changing Winds” where I felt like they were leavin’ a little on the table still if I’m being real with ya – but do I like what they’ve started here?  Yes.  Yes I do.  I feel like Johnny Hoffman & The Residents are very much my spirit animal…I don’t need the music I’m listening to to be entirely perfect or flawless all the time, I just need it to be real as it gets, and these dudes are certainly that without a doubt.  You’re not gonna find many tunes out there like “Changing Winds” – I can promise ya that…and ultimately, the same is very much true of this record as a whole…to me, that’s an advantage that they’ve got that can be used to propel them forward.  Obviously not everyone is going to ‘get it’ – but those that do and dig what they’re coming up with are gonna be loyal fans for life.  They’ve added in some significantly badass ideas into the production in this tune from the lefts & rights with the guitars and distance in the vocals.

As I’ve explained earlier on, Johnny Hoffman & The Residents is indeed, “Suzier” than the last time we got to check them out back in 2015.  As far as I can tell, this is definitely not the same song as “Suzy” that we showed to ya on our show way back in the day…and I don’t really think they’re likely to be related at all despite the similar names.  Somewhere in between the realms of Local H and Mudhoney, you’ll find a track like “Suzier” in the middle, proudly gettin’ weird with it.  There’s so much of this record that genuinely feels like you’re right there in the room with’em as they play for ya…it’s highly organic, but not in that annoying Whole Foods sense of the definition.  They’ll supply ya with plenty of vitamin (M)usic for sure, but yeah…it’s not like they’re attempting to round every freakin’ corner to the nth degree, and if something strange seems to happen, like the noticeable volume shift towards the end of “Suzier,” they just seem to shrug it off and let it be.  Perfectly imperfect…I think that’s what they’re aiming for, and achieving for what it’s worth.  They’re finding absolutely BRILLIANT moments in their music along the way…like…listen to the spot around the 1:10 mark in “Suzier” and BOW DOWN to the AWESOMENESS that you’ll bear witness to.  No joke folks, it’s something else to experience, and it’s the kind of moment that certainly has you appreciating just how straight-ahead Johnny Hoffman & The Residents COULD play things, if that’s what they wanted to do.  They know what works, they know what connects, and they’re happy to blur the lines on all that & distort their music in a way that’ll warp the freakin’ world around you…personally, I’m thankful that they don’t seem to wanna go the normal route.

C’mon now y’all…you tellin’ me you don’t feel the vibe in the crunch of “Keen?”  You do so!  This is THE vibe folks…not just A vibe, but THE vibe – you follow me?  For real…if I was Johnny Hoffman & The Residents, I’d probably be takin’ a hard look at “Keen” as a potential single to put out there and draw the people into listening…this cut has got savage single-worthy hooks at the core of it all.  It’s like someone slipped Franz Ferdinand some of your parent’s full-strength 60s acid, cranked up the distortion on their amplifiers, pushed record, and let’em run around makin’ music buck naked to their heart’s content.  And I am fuckin’ HERE. FOR. IT.  “Keen” has these two dudes crushin’ it with irresistible vibes from start to finish…and I have it on good authority that if you keep this track on repeat it’ll seamlessly start back into the groove without so much as a split second out of place.  So then you can get all kinds of Inception-like with this track, hittin’ it up over and over again until you’re not sure where time stops and the song begins, or which way is up for your ever-lovin’ ass.  “Keen” is pure independent brilliance in full-bloom y’all…if you are not turning this track up as your anthem to 2023 or to fuel the fire on your Friday night party, you are completely dead inside and there can be no more hope for your revival.  I am currently living in a tear-down house in the middle of construction happening all around me, and believe me when I tell ya, it ain’t their machines and hammering I hear – they’re hearing me jam “Keen” as loud & proud as my system can take it, and if they’ve got any damn sense left, they’re gettin’ on down with it.

“Keen End” is the final track I’ve got on this record…and if I wasn’t convinced of this band’s kickassery by now, this last cut would certainly have done it.  To be truthful, I’m blown away by the way that Heart Of Stone, Smoking Gun finishes off…”Keen End” is like the most powerful combination of Indie/Psych/Blues that you’re gonna be lucky enough to hear in one lifetime.  If I was Johnny Hoffman & The Residents, I’d definitely be closing down shows on this track without a doubt…and I’d be finding a way to take it from the humble three-plus minutes that it is now into an epic thirty-minute finale you’ll never forget.  This track is straight-up superhuman y’all…easily Joseph’s best guitar tones bar-none, and vocally, I’d argue that he’s crushin’ it just as hard at the end here too.  Dylan is as steady as you’ve ever heard him, and the way they transition through this structural strangeness together in tandem is impeccably flawless.  It’s like they made a pact to ensure this last track is entirely bulletproof in a way that no critic could possibly complain about it, and I ain’t gonna be the one to attempt to go down that road y’all.  No sir.  I am just going to continually play “Keen End” over and over and over until the few neighbors I have left around me cannot stand me playing this song as loud as I can at all hours of the day any longer.  If they decide to give me the pitchforks and torches, and I go out listening to this track, then I’ve lived a good y’all…I ain’t even remotely kidding when I tell ya I could listen to “Keen End” on repeat for actual DAYS.  I know this, because I’ve tried & succeeded…and I very much look forward to more success in the future.  Johnny Hoffman & The Residents rocked my damn world with this record – it’s been awesome to listen to from the moment it began, and it ends on such an epic cut that you’ll instantly repeat it all over again.

Find out more about Johnny Hoffman & The Residents from their official page at Facebook: and make sure to hit up the Queen Pacific page to get yourself a copy of Heart Of Stone, Smoking Gun ASAP at this link:

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