Exposé Online banner

Johnny Unicorn — Heavy Jugs to the Moon
(Bandcamp UAS 37022, 2017, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-11-14

Heavy Jugs to the Moon Cover art

It’s been several years since Johnny Unicorn gave us Angels in the Oort Cloud, but he’s been very busy, between working with Autumn Electric, recording untold thousands of short songs as Zorznijor, and guesting on other people’s albums. Here at long last is the next installment in the unpredictable Unicorn Saga. Unlike Angels, Heavy Jugs to the Moon has no lengthy epics, consisting of 22 tracks ranging from under two minutes to nearly seven, with varying instrumentation and personnel involved. It starts out with “The Heavy Overture, Pt. 2,” an instrumental of shifting meters and catchy melodies on which Unicorn plays all the instruments. For other tracks, he’s helped out by others, with Naomi Adele Smith (keys, vocals, marimba) being the most frequent collaborator. Eight different drummers (nine if you count Unicorn himself) take part, including Bob Drake on one track; of several guitarists, Max Steiner (who was on the previous album) contributes most spectacularly, with some wild playing on quite a few songs. Rather than sounding patched-together, the album has a smooth flow and some of the tracks almost run together like sections of a suite, in spite of the stylistic diversity. We get touches of new wave rock, latin, psychedelic rock, noise, 60s go-go, electronic dance music, disjointed avant-prog, catchy art-pop, and more, but there is an esthetic thread that ties it all into a unified whole, a melodic sense that manifests in different ways. I suppose some listeners might be put off by Unicorn’s voice, which is somewhat thin and a little nasal, but his intonation is good and I don’t have a problem with it. Heavy Jugs to the Moon is a fascinating, unpredictable journey with a trickster tour guide, loads of fun if you don’t take music too seriously, but seriously well made. I should also mention that the CD comes in a lovely mini-gatefold cover with a fold-out poster containing the lyrics and credits along with quirky artwork.

Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Johnny Unicorn, Bob Drake

More info

Latest news

Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more

Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Dead Can Dance - Toward the Within – Toward the Within is a live disk that documents DCD's 1993 tour, ostensibly in support of their latest studio release, Into the Labyrinth. However, Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard slip their fans a...  (1995) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues