New Album Proves Jonny Lives

“Oh, it’s about time now,” Jonny Dubowski says halfway through “Get Steady’s” title track. He says it with a perfect-English, half-enunciated mumble that suggests a Lower East Side of New York music education — one similar to that of The Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Consider it a declaration for Jonny Lives! If the melodies of The Strokes and Rooney had a love child, what rock ‘n’ roll would have is Dubowski’s voice box, Christian Langdon’s guitar, Tommy USA’s bass and Jon Weber’s drum kit. “Get Steady” jump starts with the catchy “No Good,” which features undeniably N.Y.-ish guitars but conjures a cheery hook that could get Jonny mistaken for a California band. With the blood pumping and sweat beading, Jonny’s got you ready for more. “Get Steady” plays grittier and less refined than the first track, but it’s just as fun and powerful. Here, Jonny’s diluted voice (as if singing a few feet away from the microphone) wails the chorus “I don’t need no cheap success/I’m ready I’m ready/ get steady get steady” while confrontational drums meet imposing guitars to create a sound fitting for a New York nightlife montage. The intro of “Breakdown” suggests a more melodic body than the acoustic song actually has. And although the tune becomes a little repetitive, it’s still likable.

“Cliche,” the fifth track, is easily the best on the album. Vocals evocative of dark barrooms and empty shot glasses meet fast drumbeats and guitar riffs that attest to Jonny’s “enchantment” with ’70s pop. Jonny slows down with “Lost My Mind,” which sounds like a rocked-up version of a ’50s ballad. Here Jonny sings about Brooklyn, getting arrested and losing his mind — not necessarily in that order. The doo-wop humming background chorus and sweet hook make this otherwise sad story fun to listen to. The later tracks, namely “Diamonds & Roses,” “Everybody’s Trying to Break You,” “Love Conspiracy,” “Something About It,” “Miraculous Sky,” “Do it Again” and “B-Side” are negligible and sound like generic formulas of the genre meant to hold space for future, better recordings. The last track, “Secret,” finishes the album on a good note with melodic choruses and a very catchy hook. “Get Steady” is good but not groundbreaking. More cheerful than the seldom-sober-sounding Strokes, and a shade or two darker than the high-on-life beach rockers Rooney, Jonny finds a good balance. At first listen, Jonny might be confused for one of the several Brit-pop rock bands that have made their way to the States in recent years, and in “Outside,” Jonny gets too close to the sound of Portland’s Everclear (which Jonny opened for on the “Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj” tour). Jonny’s neither. Still, after 43 minutes and 18 seconds of power pop, the question looms, begging to be answered. The response, as it might have been guessed, is, “Yes, Jonny Lives!” On most tracks, anyway.