Ready Or Not
People Of Punk Rock Records
Released: February 3, 2023
From out of left field, comes the return of Another Joe with a brand new record called Ready Or Not.
It has been a whopping twenty-three years since we last heard new material from Another Joe – and if you’re like me, it took me a quick minute to recollect on who these guys are. And then, like a slap in the face it hit me, these are the guys that did that great split album with Gob way back when (Not Serial Joe who I seemed to have confused them with… what ever happened to them anyway?). That album was called Ass Seen On TV and released way back in 1997 and is one of the highlights of Canadian skate punk.
I remember one of my first jobs after leaving high school was at this plant that made fire hoses, on the night shift, with this kid a year or two younger than me that was always playing Gob, especially their split record with Another Joe. I haven’t thought of those days in so long. Up all night, firing hoses filled with purple dye all through the night, looking for leaks and slowly dying of pure boredom. Anyway, I’m drifting way off topic, as I so often do. Forever derailed.
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Two of the original members, representing half of the band, have returned for this reunion – or continuation of Another Joe. Guitarist and vocalist Jon Glen and bassist Alison Toews. New kids on the block Ryan Walter Wagner on guitar and Mario Nieva on the drums round out the new incarnation of Another Joe, who formerly announced their return and new line-up in October of 2022 – and we already have a new record on the verge of coming out.
Those two decades have evolved the music of Toews and Glen, who sound less like the snotty skate kids that toured the ski hills of British Columbia and Alberta frequently back in the day, and – as much as I hate to use this word, have matured their sound into a more rock n’ roll flavor, albeit much of their early sound is still present. Ready Or Not, especially on tracks such as Freak, is filled to the brim with snarled attitude and spunk. Still punk. Just evolved – and you know what? For the better. This album, to coin an old ass term, this record kicks!
I suppose, in a lot of ways Ready Or Not feels like the natural progression of the sound found on Plasti-Scene, their well-received final installment before their break-up. How they were unable to find a drummer to replace John Rylance, who left the band in 2000 just a few months after Plasti-Scene dropped, is truly mind-boggling. When you think about it, the band never really had a fair chance to show off that record live, which is a shame and something that ultimately could have altered their fate. How nobody was interested in stepping in to carry the band on is really bizarre.
There is a real sense of urgency and intensity throughout Ready Or Not; more so than at any other point through the groups four previous releases. The result is far more serious approach to a formula that had already paid dividends decades prior. The record bursts to life with an adrenaline filled thrill ride of a romp named Missed Fits, something akin to how Sonic Reducer slams through the door like the Kool-aid guy through a wall, or the seminal Dead Boys classic Young, Loud And Snotty.
On T-Bird Tattoo, Glen’s lyrics recall a touching and tragic tale of losing a child in infancy and the hardships that come with that; through dark periods we are shaped into the human beings we become and the lyrics featured within are soul-wrenched to the point that every emotion Glen must have felt at the time come pouring through the speakers. I only hope singing about such a tragedy is therapeutic for all that went through it.
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Bold statement here, and not one I thought I would be making. I’m going to go on record as saying this is the best album so far in Another Joe’s anthology. That is an anomaly as the vast majority of bands don’t get better with age; they plateau and spend the rest of their days chasing the dragon, so to speak – and when a band disbands and doesn’t record anything for more than two decades, chances are the music they pen so far down the road never meets or eclipses past work, but I can’t get enough of Ready Or Not. Eclipsing a record like 2000’s Plasti-Scene. Imagine that.
Pre-orders for Another Joe’s new record Ready Or Not are available now through People Of Punk Rock Records, who also re-issued the bands debut album Pee Against The Wind and still have a few copies left. Sounds like the perfect way to save on shipping to me. Economy, kids! Ship in bulk.
For Fans Of: Screeching Weasel, Gob, Diesel Boy
01. Missed Fits
03. T-Bird Tattoo
04. Inside Voice
06. I Don’t Wanna
07. Sound Advice