Palma Violets–Johnny Bagga’ Donuts

I realize I’ve been giving London guitars bands a bit of a short shrift this week.  I’ll partially rectify that with some bonus picks over the weekend, but the main reason for the poor showing  was the fact that I was building up to the inimitable Palma Violets.  The current kings of the London scene, there is probably no better live band on the planet at this juncture (Johnny Marr suggested that watching bassist Chilli Jesson live was akin to seeing Joe Strummer onstage).  While their music is surprisingly divisive, no one can knock their stage presence.  They are the epitome of what it means to be in a rock’n’roll gang, which is why I think they’ll prove to be this generation’s band that launched a thousand bands.  There’s a lot I could say about these guys (A LOT), but I’ll try to stick to the song in question, Johnny Bagga’ Donuts.  It’s a ramshackle, joyous snippet of modern punk (or as the band would say, pub rock) that features all the secret weapons that made their first album such a success: Chilli Jesson’s gravely howl, Will Doyle’s surprisingly fleet drumming and Peter Mayhew’s proto-punk keyboard work.  Jesson has previously spoken about how the idea of jeune is important to the band and this song nails it perfectly.  There may be no set of opening couplets that better captures the insouciance and petulance of youth than when Jesson snarls:

Oh the ragga you write and the rhythm you breath in/I’m going down to the scene                              Oh you don’t know just what I’m feeling/I’m banging my head on the ceiling

It’s a euphoric, celebratory track that unravels at the seams, ending when it can’t be held together for a second longer.  While not as physically dangerous as their live shows, the track goes a long way toward capturing the raw energy that makes them such an unforgettable force on stage.


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