Jo Passed
Their Prime

by Jim Di Gioia

May 28, 2018

BC-based Jo Passed attack the songs on their debut with ferocity and vigor.

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Let’s not linger on the details about which record labels are releasing Their Prime, the debut album from BC-based band, Jo Passed. Far too much gets inferred about what’s expected of a band aesthetically and sonically when they’re signed to white-hot record labels and venerable modern rock institutions. Too many opinions get set before a stitch of music is even heard, so instead, let’s drown out the spin by turning up the volume on the dozen tracks Jo Passed have crafted under the reigns of bandleader Jo Hirabayashi — songs of unnerving psychedelia, dissociative drone-rock, and DIY predilections.

Opening triptych “Left”, the single “MDM”, and “Glass” sounds like the history of modern rock in reverse — if experimental noise-rock, krautrock, and punk were the forebears to 60s surf-rock and pop. It’s not in the least bit surprising to hear that Hirabayashi says Their Prime is “a collage record of everything he’s inspired by.” Toiling away in Vancouver’s underground scene (with a spell spent in Montreal) for the better part of his teens and twenties, Hirabayashi and his consorts — Mac Lawrie, Bella Bébé, and Megan-Magdalena Bourne — attack “Millennial Trash Blues”, “Sold”, and “Repair” with the ferocity and vigor of a band intent on leaving the studio without any regrets and nothing left in the tank.

It would be a shame if the conversation about Jo Passed’s Their Prime never gets beyond their label affiliations. Marketing and a catchy PR angle can often put an artist on the radar for critics and consumers alike, but more often than not, it feels like the narrative takes precedence over the art itself. I get it: the goal is to sell records, so an interesting marketing angle is always going to be an asset. But marketing can also have the reverse effect. I, for one, most definitely had a preconceived opinion about Jo Passed from the press that I read before actually hearing a single note. A few bars into Their Prime, though, and those notions were erased by an unexpectedly brilliant clash of pop, punk, and noise. It was a stark reminder of the importance of engaging with and formulating our own opinions on music rather than relying on the punditry and PR maneuverings that precede it.

Jim Di Gioia

CoFounder at DOMINIONATED
Jim founded the music blog Quick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.

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