Sure, it can be easy (if wrongheaded) to dismiss bands with absurd, punny names. But Joanna Gruesome (a sly nod to Joanna Newsom) is the real deal. However, unlike Newsom’s ornate, melodic harp music, the Welsh band’s debut Weird Sister is crammed full of noisy and punk-infused grunge. I caught Joanna Gruesome twice last year at CMJ and each time was a blast to the senses. Almost a year later, at Shea Stadium, the band not only proved that last fall’s hype was for good reason, but also showed how much better its live show has gotten in that time. These songs are meant to be heard live, and loud.
With “Sugarcrush” or “Anti Parent Cowboy Killers,” Joanna Gruesome can be an urgent and exuberant blast of frenzied attitude. Yet with “Wussy Void,” Alanna McArdle’s breathy vocal melodies add a trace of pop buried just under surface of those searing guitars. For me, that mix between melody and dissonance is a perfect combination.