Joho – Discotheque Funeral

 Joho – Discotheque Funeral

Joho – Discotheque Funeral – Album Review

It’s been said countless times that there are two things in life that are certain, which of course, are death & taxes as the ol’ adage will tell ya…but I’d argue there’s a third.  Pushing play on a Joho record is guaranteed to have something for ya, straight-up, full-stop.  Which record?  ANY.  And that’s facts y’all.

But did I at least raise an eyebrow of curiosity in response to learning about how he was diving into Disco for his new record in 2021?  Of course I did…but ultimately, it’s not unexpected – Joho’s already proven to put his hand in the pie of many genres & styles, and with great success at that – the man’s got a genuine interest in multiple areas of music & its history…and I respect that about him, big time.  Not only does it keep each and every experience I have with his music immaculately different than the last time out…but let’s not forget, I ain’t the ONLY one listening – you’re all getting this incredible deal as well if you’re paying attention.  Joho’s a one-man army built of all-things-music with the passion to prove it, and piece by piece, genre by genre, he has been.  Building a versatile legacy in the process as a result, Joho’s an anomaly in the scene in all the right ways, and pretty much can’t help but to stand out; understanding the intentional diversity in his conquest of sound & style is all part of what’s important to getting to the heart of what he’s really all about.  A piece will give ya piece…and until he’s retired years & years from now, assuming he hasn’t figured out a way to turn himself into an immortal music-making hologram…none of us truly know just how far he’s willing to expand the big picture or what it’ll include.

So we get surprises like this along the way, where he’ll switch it up entirely from what you think you knew about Joho, into something he’s never done before.  And yet somehow he brings the same level of confidence to each experience too…which, if you ask me, proves he’s got all the hallmarks of a genuine superstar in the making.  There doesn’t seem to be a challenge large enough to get the better of him – no matter what style Joho has chosen over the years I’ve been listening, he comes up with nothing but Ws and has been since I checked out his record Youth In Retrospect back in 2019, all the way to being voted by YOU as the WINNER of our Best New Sound here at our pages last year for Parliament Of Fools.  With how much he’s capable of, how much he’s already achieved, and how spectacularly diverse his sound has been over the series of records I’ve heard from him, it’s hard to remember it’s really only been a couple of short years and that we’re still at the earliest parts of what’s clearly a lifelong career.

He’s got another really well balanced record for ya in this lineup of nine, whereby if you dig on what you hear at the very start of his title-track, you’ll have zero problems at all stickin’ around for the full set.  As many times as I spun through this album over the past week…it was almost hard to argue against the opening cut “Discotheque Funeral” as being one of the record’s best by just that 10% more in comparison…there are a whole series of sensationally sparkly & danceable vibes to be found on this album for sure, but only one cut gets the opportunity to really make that first impression on us as song one.  And when you hear how the bass-lines start kickin’ and servin’ up the Funk…I mean…it’s already game-over folks, you’re locked in & you KNOW it, because you can feel it.  Like…what…are you gonna get up and walk away after you hear this beat he’s workin’ with and the inspired energy Joho puts into the mic?  Please.  Y’ain’t goin’ NOWHERE…”Discotheque Funeral” is built on purely addictive sound & style, and immediately sets the bar impeccably high up there for the standards Joho’s set for himself.  No doubt about this cut making an impact on ya…it’d be much shorter to list the few that don’t feel it.

Joho’s kind of like an entire Quincy Jones record all-in-one, you dig?  Like, if you were to listen to an album like Back On The Block from back in the day, you’d find a whole lineup of songs & artists that are featured throughout a series of killer material – but you gotta recognize Joho’s able to accomplish that entire smorgasbord of sound & style on his own!  “Back For Love” is an excellent way of infusing so much of what he’s great at from the sentiment of his words to the sincerity of his style that we’ve experienced in the past, into the Disco realm in a way that works for this record right here.  The music on Discotheque Funeral relentlessly jams – and hearing Joho hit the chorus & hooks you’ll find on this second shiny tune from his new record is more proof that the man has got the magic just as much within this genre as he’s proven to have in every other he’s tackled so far.  Examining the push/pull of love and how it keeps us coming back, while keepin’ his eyes locked firmly on the prize of makin’ sure to keep us all entertained in the process, “Back For Love” bounces with lighthearted energy and spirited sound.  Joho’s willing to shoot his shot when it comes to makin’ moves and makin’ music – and in this track, you get’em both in one experience as he uses the spark in this song to his every advantage and creates a cut for the many people out there in the world that can all see the pathway to the love they’re seeking out, and just need a boost of confidence to get them digits.  Let this song right here be your soundtrack and your wingman.  Joho’s got an anthem of romance here that confirms the man is really a big teddy bear.

Diving into the addictiveness of love, the stylistic vibes of Disco/Pop, and how music plays a so much of a role in how we feel ‘in the moment’ – Joho flips between lyricism that draws directly from the sound you hear & themes of late-night lovin.’  Fantastic lead, killer background vocals, the beat is kickin’ once again with the bass-lines on-point & THICC with two Cs – “Your Way” is one of the tracks on the record where you’ll notice the attention to detail from the lefts to the rights the most.  Whenever “Your Way” decides to ramp-up the energy, and those backing vocals enter the mix, this whole party heads straight to the next level, every time.  Joho’s pretty much using the loud/quiet dynamic to full-effect here, just in a much more subtle way than we’re used to hearing that inside the Rock world where it’s a lot easier to spot, or in EDM where it’s inherently built into the structure – “Your Way” is still sticking close to the verse/chorus script for sure, but you’ll notice how the whole song comes alive as he surges into the most vibrant moments of this track in full Disco glory.  He plays it low-key with his energy in the verses to give the chorus an even more exciting & inspired sound…that’s what I’m sayin’ – and it works, 100%.  Especially in terms of what Discotheque Funeral is really all about…this cut exemplifies its overall theme.

Allllllllllllll this good stuff being said…when it comes to the hit, Joho didn’t miss when it came to making “Lemonade,” and wisely enlisted the assistance of Raycheal Winters to vocally brighten up the hooks.  Together, these two squeezed ALL that juice outta this cut & then some – and they’ve got nothing BUT single-worthy sound radiating from every pore of your speakers through the sunshiny vibes they’ve put into “Lemonade.”  If you’ve been paying attention to his pages on social-media, you’ll already know he was mad excited about this particular cut…and while it’s actually pretty rare for me to completely agree with a choice made by an artist as to what their main single would be…you pretty much can’t come to any other conclusion when you listen to the complementary mix of inviting, enticing, and entertaining vibes comin’ atcha – this is exactly what single-worthy sound is all about, with remarkable accessibility.  Like…I would WORRY ABOUT YOU if you could somehow listen to “Lemonade” and not feel it, you dig?  What I love about what he’s done here on “Lemonade” is literally something everyone can hear – that’s the degree of accessibility we’re really talking about here – he’s got major summertime vibes rollin’ sweet & strong throughout this track, and I can’t imagine anyone out there not turning this right UP.  Raycheal’s a fantastic fit and a stellar voice that adds so much beauty into this tune alongside Joho, and once again, he’s got music that is right on target with deep bounce in the rubbery bass-lines and snazzy beat that come with it.  Beyond all this awesomeness…to my recollection, this is the first time I’ve gotten to see a video from Joho, isn’t it?  And personally, I think you’re damn near missing out entirely if that’s not the way you experience it!  As much as I’m addicted to the song itself, the video enhances the whole vibe with slick, stylistic visuals that are true to the era in the use of color & effects, once again tying in the themes of 70s based Disco into the mix on a whole other level.  It’s an AWESOME video if I’m being real with ya…and we need little more than the main star of the show to make it that way – all said & done, Joho’s “Lemonade” is supreme confirmation of the man’s star talent from sight to sound.

By the mid-point of this record and the synthetically PHAT sound of DAT BASS on “Sugar Funk” comes around, Joho givin’ ya more of what you’ve been lovin,’ with a whole second-half to come still, should be more than welcome.  Heck, it even got me past the fear of hearing “boogie” out-loud in a song…which is still a very real thing that I’d never recommend anyone out there try yourselves…but Joho here, he makes it work.  Also right around here…while I’d probably still be inclined to argue on behalf of the four songs earlier having made more of an impact, I think you get one of Joho’s best performances on this cut without question – like, you can HEAR just how INTO THIS he is, and it makes all the difference between how “Sugar Funk” could have been a good song, but is in fact instead, another great one.  He takes ya right back to the days of Grandmaster Flash for the breakdown, his vocals are innovative & bold in all the right places…it’s really because Joho’s so locked-in that we become every bit as much engaged with “Sugar Funk” – and he should give himself some real credit for that.  You can hear an artist that’s not thinking about anything happening in the outside world, strapped into the studio cans, doin’ his thang like only Joho can…and there’s a natural rhythm & flow that occurs as a result.  What you hear is the sound of an artist that’s focused AF – “no tracks getting’ skipped” as he’ll tell ya, and that’s church.

Do I wake up on any day expecting to love a song called “Dance With Me” as an old grizzled greybeard that can barely drag his ass outta the house to walk the dog, let alone ever trying to ever bust out some of my stellar dance moves?  Nope!  I certainly do not…but alas, here we are & that’s the case.  This might very well be one of my favorites on the whole record if I’m being real with ya – Joho’s as smooth as smooth can possibly be as he glides through this song…and while I know I’ve continually cited the bass-lines for the awesomeness they’ve provided, I’m gonna DO IT AGAIN because he’s just done such a spectacular job of finding the right sound to put the Funk flavor into this Disco-inspired record of his.  There’s a high emphasis on melody & sweetness that runs through the spirited sound of “Dance With Me” that authentically captures the essence of what makes the body & soul respond to music – and like it or not, it’s gonna get ya movin’ & groovin’ – that’s the facts.  Again…not to boast here…but I’ve dusted off moves I totally forgot I even HAD just in listening to this track…so don’t be surprised when you follow suit.  This is one of those tracks that I’d point to when it comes to universally inviting vibes & sound – which again, I never thought I’d be saying in support of a song called “Dance With Me,” but that’s the truth – it would take a person built of pure steel to resist the hooks pouring outta this track, and I’m not that guy.  I’m built of a soft, lovable-but-hairy sponge, that’s designed to absorb this track in its entirety.   All kidding aside, I’m not even remotely joking when I say this is another highly single-worthy cut – it is.

“Julia” was probably the cut I was closest to the fence on…and if anything, it’s simply because Joho goes SO TRUE to the era here, it’s like he’s stripped these hooks straight outta the golden-era of Disco sound.  As in…I mean…we’re gettin’ pretty close to the Bee Gees approach on this track…at least when it comes to the design of the main hooks…but again, you gotta admire how focused it is in the context of what this record’s set out to do.  PLUS…when it comes right down to it, the versatility of “Julia” expands so much further beyond the main hooks, which revealed a bit more that was towards my side of sound & what I’m looking for in Joho’s music.  I ain’t knockin’ the guy here whatsoever, so don’t get it twisted – “Julia” is in fact, one of the cuts on Discotheque Funeral that explores the Disco sound to its purest form.  I’m not knocking the Bee Gees either really…solid contribution to music’s history, just not a style I tend to seek out on the regular is all.  But to be fair, so much of this record explores a side I don’t get nearly enough exposure to these days – none of us do, and that gives this album an added level of appeal to it that’ll draw people both into what Joho does, and help put the Disco sound back in people’s speakers.  Quality-wise, you’ll find Joho’s got this whole record every bit as balanced as I claimed it was from the get-go…and his verses are spectacular here too – there’s plenty to love about “Julia” from the details in the production, to the resounding commitment he puts into the performance & style…no points to be taken away, it’s just a matter of personal preference & what speaks to you the strongest as you listen.

One of the brightest spots on the record is “Andromeda” – I love everything about this idea and the upbeat demeanor of this whole vibe.  Do I think that it’s perfect?  Good question.  There’s a lot of humble charm that I think works in Joho’s favor here…and any spots I hear that I felt like could potentially be improved, I felt like would be the spots that will naturally strengthen over more time & experience with this tune.  If I had to hazard a guess, and y’all know I like to do that – I’d be willing to bet on “Andromeda” being one of the last tunes written for this lineup…I think you can still hear a bit of potential for it to become stronger, but it is truly tough to complain about it as it already stands, and I don’t really wanna!  I think the lyricism is fantastic, I think the whole design is spectacular when it comes right down to it…it’s a challenging song to sing at parts like the bridge & the breakdown, but Joho holds his own…he’ll just stand out more in the flow of the verses, especially at the start where you can hear he’s got a completely clear direction of where he wants to take it with the melody & power he puts in.  The celebratory sound of “Andromeda” is pretty impossible to resist once again overall though…and there’s really nothing I can think of that’s gonna get me to stop playin’ it over here personally – but believe me when I say & feel free to quote me, Joho’s got more space in this track that’ll he’ll explore over these years to follow as he plays this cut live & such, and “Andromeda” is just gonna get better & better until it becomes a full-on show-stopper & highlight in every set he play as a result.  Great tune!

“Caz Fantasma” finishes the record on ultra-slick & stylistic fashion, keeping this conceptual record every bit as focused on its core theme & sound right to the end every bit as much as he did as Dirk Turquoise & The Grimy Pastels for the Parliament Of Fools record from last year under an alternate persona.  He’s gone old-school as you’ll find him going throughout this lineup of cuts, while still working in a stellar dose of some mid-90s R&B flavor into the mix…and what is that – is that Kenny G on the saxophone back there?  Alright, alright…it’s probably not – but it sounds damn good!  The instrumentation really takes a moment to hit the spotlight up before this record is all wrapped up…excellent sounds in the mix here, and another highly-details cut that makes use of every moment from the lefts to the rights, adding in cleverness you’ll catch onto through the guitars & saxophone chimin’ in along the way.  Cohesive bro!  Everything on this record is a stellar fit for the design, intention, ambitions & concept – “Caz Fantasma” certainly included…Joho’s got style for miles and just in case you somehow missed it through the eight songs prior, he’ll turn up the heat one last time for ya before it’s all over.  A final party jam for you to turn that Friday night into Saturday morning…Joho’s “caught the vibe” and never let it go throughout the distance of Discotheque Funeral and proven once again to be THE master of musical versatility & multiple styles.  Dude’s jammin’ on this record and feelin’ it…you can hear the inspiration on every cut.

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