Swedish duo John Engelbert and Oskar “Ossi” Bonde are the people behind Johnossi and they’ve had quite the career. They formed way back in 2004 and since then they’ve gone on to release 4 LP’s (these being the self titled, All They Ever Wanted, Mavericks and Transitions). They have toured extensively mainly in Europe but also in the US and Japan, both headlining and as support to acts like The Hives, Lykke Li, Mando Diao, Green Day, Shout Out Louds and The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Johnossi have had several platinum selling albums and singles in Sweden and won various awards including a Swedish Grammy Award for ”Best Group” + two National Radio P3 Gold Awards for ”Best Group” (equivalent of Radio 1 in the UK).
Aside from all that Johnossi released their 5th album Blood Jungle on Universal (Polydor in the UK) and it’s simply amazing. Blood Jungle saw Johnossi work new producers plus they even collaborated for the first time with other songwriters on a number of songs. There were no big plans behind this but in keeping with John’s sense that all things are connected and belong together, various coincidences, opportunities and meetings with good friends created an array of intriguing chances to do something different.
This record contains collaborations with people like Joakim Berg from Sweden’s biggest rock band Kent on the track ‘War/Rain’, and world-class Swedish songwriters and friends of John and Ossi, Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub (on ‘Weak Spots’), Patrik Berger (‘Blood’) and Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare (‘On A Roll’). Between them these songwriting titans have written songs with artists such as Lana Del Rey, Miike Snow, Robyn, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, Charlie XCX, Ellie Goulding, Avicii and Pink amongst many others.
“This time around we really wanted to challenge ourselves in as many ways as possible during the process. The people we have worked with happens to be our buddies, but they are also fantastic songwriters and producers, which made it even more fun” says Ossi Bonde.
Blood Jungle is a sterling effort and if you adore your rock music then Johnossi are the band for you. Anyways this LP featured 10 impeccable tracks which left me well and truly hooked. Blood opened up proceedings and this delectable cut is an anthem in the making. Now this song oozed plenty of energy and John’s vocal tones packed a punch. Actually the first band that sprung to mind was Kasabian. The upbeat Air Is Free was a mighty tune aided by catchy lyrics and a sublime vocal delivery. This toe tapping tune was literally a full on explosion.Hands was a a chilled out track which left me in a daze. This was the perfect piece of indie rock and there was a rasp within Engelbert’s vocal delivery. Freeman was a tantalising number with a gorgeous gentle melody and luscious lyrics which were drenched in plenty of indie pop vibes. The fresh and funky Weak Spots was a real jam which can easily have you moshing along. You had fuzzy guitar riffs and spectacular lyrics/ vocals which hit me like a formidable force. On A Roll was a soft blissful experience aided by lyrics which literally grabbed me attention. John’s delivered this to perfection and those female vocals were rather pleasant. Tall Dark Man was was inspired by night-time debauchery. This mesmerising rock stomper which left me completely enthralled. Packed with vibrant lyrics, fuzzy guitar riffs Tall Dark Man will definitely get you nodding your head. Hey Kiddo was a spectacular song which included gorgeous hooks and a chorus which radiated bundles of energy. This is a number you could quite easily sing along to. War/ Rain was a mid tempo ballad which had been pieced together perfectly and album ended with Got Your Gun. Delivered at a fast pace the impeccable Got Your Gun was yet again a fuzzy rock stomper and ended what had been a right masterpiece.
OVERALL: This was the very first time I had listened to Johnossi and I’ve gotta say Blood Jungle impressed me greatly. These guys are seriously talented as they’ve created a whimsical LP. Every track featured was sublime, my personal favourites had to be Blood, Weak Spots, On A Roll and Hey Kiddo. I could actually see traces of The White Stripes, Kasabian and Arctic Monkeys within each number featured. If you love indie rock then check out this Swedish two piece.
Whilst writing up this review I’ve had Blood Jungle on a constant loop and I was completely engrossed in each tune featured. Johnossi have something good going for them and I look forward to hearing more in the future.