This week saw the first release of any material by MK Punk Band Johnny and The Mental Breakdowns, since singer Jon suffered a stroke. Not a band to sit on their laurels, moan about Covid and feeling sorry for themselves – no. Jon has been inspired to write yet more songs and talking of songs comes yet another banger in their canon(sic). The Breakdowns do a fine line in anthems and this is yet another to add to an already stellar setlist.

Ok so “Turn Up The Stereo” might seem an obvious song title for a Punk band, but there’s more to it than just that. On first listen, and subsequent listens since I’m imagining Fruitbat (Carter USM, Abdoujaparov) fronting The Clash! It has that trademark vocal sound and an anthemic chorus that just reels you in, wanting you to sing along with the band at live shows. That vocal is clean and the musicianship has a radio-friendly vibe to it, it’s positively New Wave! The song opens with some crashing cymbals before Scott’s (drums) powerful snare hitting, then the brass kicks in (Chris and Dave). The bass and guitars are subtle, allowing the brass and Scott’s cymbal bashing to take centre stage. The guitar intricacies take over in the bridge but it’s all about the lyrical sentiment and after the year/18 months most of us have endured, it’s a rallying call to the masses. Jon delivers a potent yet measured vocal, all passion and heartfelt honesty. And the ending, it’s like a band finishing a live set – it’s just great. With so many bands seemingly holed up, writing and honing their skills; I for one hope The Breakdowns can get back out there soon and deliver songs like these to a wider audience.

Johnny And The Mental Breakdowns

Accompanying this track (the B-side) if you will, is a demo version of “The Devils Work”. This is an altogether much harder-edged song, With hints of ‘Dirty RnR’ it chugs along at quite a pace. Scott’s driving drums keep the main beat, while the chiming guitars in the background hold back to allow the bass to make itself heard. The vocal this time around has an anger and potency that fights to keep pace with the frenetic beat. There’s a chimey, noodly bridge that continues to its conclusion and I feel this song would make a great set closer.

Lyrics and music: Jon Ellams
Vocals: Jon Ellams
Guitars and Bass: Simon J. Turner
Drums: Scott Bickers
Saxophone: Chris Pape
Trumpet: Dave Pape

Recorded and produced by Simon J. Turner, mastered by Pete Maher.


Review by Ross A. Ferrone

Johnny And The Mental Breakdowns