Wednesday 26 July 2023


A band who describe themselves as "legendary cannabis destroyers" who "rock hard and smoke heavy" are unlikely to be writing songs about social unrest or political change, and the tackling of such themes is even less likely when your band goes by the name of Marijuana Johnson. Given this information it will come as no surprise then that this Dayton, Ohio outfit's grooves and lyrical content is steeped in the same "weedian" mythology that informed Sleep's "Dopesmoker/Jerusalam". Now before you start throwing your hands in the air and start asking the question "do we really need another Sleep type band" let us point out that despite its iconic status Sleep's  iconic album was not an overly joyous affair and celebrated the humble leaf from a more religious angle, Marijuana Johnson on the other hand bring and element of fun to the party and no more so than on their latest release "Reefer Chamber".

Title track "Reefer Chamber" opens up proceedings and starts its life with sampled of narrative of a "stoner" trying to convince a potential "stoner" of the benefits of smoking cannabis over a crunching dank and doomic guitar refrain that is then joined by bass and drums on the songs equally crunching main riff, vocals then join the fray and are a mix of harmonised vocal interplay and clean lead sang in a swinging meter that honestly wouldn't sound out of place gracing an educational video for kindergarten children (weird but true). For next song "Mountain High" MJ mix things up by adding into their heavy "weedian" grooves a touch of old school 70's hard rock swagger beneath an ear catching vocal melody that like its predecessor possess a playful swing. "Glass Brain" is up next and here we find the band jamming a slightly more traditional stoner rock/proto-metal groove accompanied by a vocal that is a touch more gnarled and gritty. Sabbathian chug is applied to the mix for the ever so brief "Every Day" while "My Weight" is a furiously enjoyable romp that has an early desert rock/punk feel in places and boasts deliciously 70's flavoured guitar solos. Last track "Red" closes things out by pulling all the musical threads touched upon previously and compacting them into one killer finale.

Given Marijuana Johnson's predilection for "weedian" themes it is not surprising that they often get wrongly dismissed as Sleep clones but in truth they are a completely different animal. Where Sleep's musical dynamic is primarily influenced by bands like Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard MJ take their influences from a much wider palette that includes hard rock, punk and even the blues. It is also evident when listening to Marijuana Johnson's "Reefer Chamber" that they are not a band who take themselves too seriously, they may pay homage to the mythology and culture surrounding their drug of choice but they are not scared to have some fun with it either.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

# Releases 28th July 2023

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