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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Jones Island Flood: Sex and Surf from the Shores of Milwaukee

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Just off of East Nock Street in Bay View, a living room is filled with the vibrating, rolling sounds of the Jones Island Flood, who describe themselves as “trashy bluesy surf-punk.” Chris Lubinski unleashes a tidal wave of percussion at his set in the living room doorway, framed by black velvet curtains. Andrew Worzella stands near him, thumping along on the bass. Sitting on a cream-colored couch, band founder Giovanni Pogliano is executing a Dick Dale-style riff on his Stratocaster, a leg length away from his Death by Audio Robot fuzz pedal. Snakes of power chords wrap across the rug. And standing behind the couch, Maria Law is belting out the seductive song, “Radiation,” the first track from their new album.

Pogliano began assembling the Jones Island Flood in 2010, with the intent of having a fun summer project.

“Because it was summertime, I was listening to a lot of surf stuff, like the Mono Men,” Pogliano explains, “twangy garage-type of stuff.”

Pogliano placed an ad on Craig’s List and had a success story when Lubinski and Law responded. Law’s attention was caught by the ad’s mention of The Kills, one of her favorites. Law grew up in Europe (she’s entertaining the idea of writing a song in Greek) and has relocated around the world—Australia, New York, Virginia—before settling in Milwaukee.

“My vocals are a lot more girly and ethereal and the music is tough and kick-ass; it’s a clash but I think it works well,” Law says.

The band was having trouble filling the bass player spot until Worzella saw them playing a show sans bass player at Kochanski’s Concertina Beer Hall. He offered to take the slot.

Pogliano says the band’s name was a deliberate attempt to give it some local identity.

“I knew I wanted it to be Jones Island something,” Pogliano says.  “It’s an aesthetic from growing up here, crossing the Hoan Bridge after school every day and looking over at Jones Island just rusting away. The area is important to the band’s character and the corroded sound of the guitar.”

The band hopes to further tie to the local terrain with a future concept album spotlighting some Milwaukee folklore. They’re envisioning songs about the Milverine, Brother Ron (owner of the “Godmobile”) and the legend of Haunchyville, supposedly a secret village of angry dwarves guarded by a shotgun-wielding albino.

The band recently released their first 15-track album, which is boldly titled 4 a.m. Inside the FuckFurnace, on May 11. The album is available for digital download or at shows as a download code inside of a traditional CD booklet with cover art and credits. Pogliano says this was a convenient and affordable process and that, for a future album, the band would like to include an entire magazine of art with an album download code.

Like the album title, many of the songs on FuckFurnace are sexually charged. The cover art features a painting (done by Law) of some moaning, juicy-looking lips. “After Midnight” is about a man’s porn addiction, while “Sex Song” is told from the perspective of “a cougar dominatrix,” Law says, smiling mischievously. Other songs include “Drowning,” a spooky surf song about Law’s fear of her job hazards and “Golden Ticket,” which sounds like Karen O singing over a beat laid down by Bo Diddley.

The band’s combination of surf sounds, libido and dark imagery would make them the perfect soundtrack for a beach party thrown by David Lynch outside a dilapidated wastewater treatment plant.

The Jones Island Flood’s album is available at jonesislandflood.bandcamp.com.