Single Review: ‘Johnny’ – Swine Tax

by Amelia Thorpe

Tearing down the walls of silence, Newcastle-based quartet, Swine Tax return with their most recent single ‘Johnny’. Released to all major streaming services on December 4th, the boisterous new single showcases an engaging new side to the band as they couple their frenetic and anxious energy to a motorik, groove-laden track. Recorded with Barry Hyde (The Futureheads) earlier this year (complete with original artwork by Oli Heffernan), ‘Johnny’ comes as part of their five-track limited edition release RELAX / JOHNNY, which can be streamed or purchased here.

Carried by its heavy baseline, the gritty punk-rock number is full of chaotic energy. Punctuated by experimental guitar riffs, alongside its raw production and rather uneasy Slaves-esque vocals, the track creates a messy and uncontrolled feeling, perfectly reflecting the uneasy lyrical content. The single explores the theme of addiction, with the character “Johnny” being at the focal point and whose mental state is mirrored by the track’s overall uneasy and anxious mood. Speaking on the single, the band said: “Johnny is about someone that lives with an addiction and it’s told from their perspective with fractured bits of conversation. The song’s cool groove and uneasy mood is a reflection of their state of mind.”

Formed in Newcastle upon Tyne, Swine Tax is the creative voice of Vince (lead vocals and guitar), TK (bass), Charlie (drums) and Euan (synth and guitar). A close-knit group with a strong musical chemistry, the band continues to hone an acidic rock sound that takes cues from both UK post-punk and US garage rock. Swine Tax are often noted for their spoken-sung vocals, sharp song-writing and wry social commentary. Known for their independent ethos, the band are at the forefront of a burgeoning scene in Newcastle and have earned a reputation for their adrenaline-fuelled live shows.

Over the last year or two Swine Tax have showcased their talents at many UK festivals and have performed alongside the likes of BODEGA, The Futureheads, Working Men’s Club, Sorry, Pip Blom and Fontaines D.C, racking up thousands of fans along the way. With several critically acclaimed singles and a successful European tour under their belt, it won’t be long before Swine Tax takes the national punk-rock scene by storm.

With various festival appearances and a UK tour curtailed due to the global pandemic, Swine Tax will look to pick up where they left off with rescheduled tour dates in 2021. Chosen as one of BBC Introducing NE’s top tips for 2020, and with an eagerly anticipated debut EP in the making, Swine Tax show no signs of letting up, and I am personally looking forward to moshing at their first post-covid gig.

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