Johnny Dynamite’s forthcoming LP, The Tale of Tommy Gunn, presents a satirical twist on the conventional fantasy narrative. The tale unfolds through the somewhat jaded eyes of Tommy, a down-on-his-luck New Yorker who dreams of finding the quintessential musician’s success in Nashville, Tennessee.
Tommy departs the Big Apple for Nashville, encountering his destined companion, Valentine, en route. Valentine, painted as a saintly wanderer, agrees to accompany him to a rented lake house on the fringes of Nashville. Their story takes a turn when a Nashville recording studio offers Tommy a too-good-to-be-true deal to lay down his tracks. As Tommy struggles to keep up with the payments, the truth begins to unravel, revealing the studio as a front for a street gang’s money laundering operation. The mounting debt fuels tension and strains Tommy’s relationship with Valentine, culminating in her sudden disappearance.
Faced with her inexplicable absence, Tommy is forced to confront the reality of his circumstances, left wondering whether Valentine has fallen victim to foul play, simply fled the mounting chaos, or worse still, met a tragic end.
During this time, Tommy is sent into a paranoid frenzy taking on the role of a star-crossed lover, wishing to die by the hands of the gang. The end of the tale leaves Tommy shot on the ground, repeating the hook penned in his first song, “now you really want to get close to me.”
“Lakehouse,” a cinematic, mysterious single from this film noir-inspired album, captures the listener with its hook-laden allure, riding on a profound and persistent bass line, disciplined drumming, bubbling synth elements, and radiant guitar riffs. While the sentiment is something straight out of a graphic novel or 1940s thriller, the musical soundtrack itself is pure 80s-inspired. The song’s pulse is driven by undulating synth arrangements and shimmering melodies, propelling it into a dreamlike state that echoes the grandeur of synth-pop stalwarts such as Pet Shop Boys and modern contemporaries like Korine.
And yet, the spectral presence of Johnny Dynamite broods effortlessly over the soundscape, his emotive expressions veering between melancholic and determined. as the chorus bursts onto the scene with an irresistibly catchy, anthem-like quality. The instrumental framework is just as commanding as the vocals: the Bloodsuckers perfectly compliment the track, embellishing it with warm, honeyed guitar notes and impeccably groovy bass lines.
The accompanying video by Max R. Holland is a masterpiece of cinematography, with stunning drone shots over the landscape and a gorgeous buildup of suspense. The surrealist locket element brings a Lynchian quality to the short film – which is truly what it is, as Holland and Dynamite gleefully push the boundaries of music video artistry. Dynamite’s subtle acting brings his character to life in a compelling way, a forlorn figure in a metaphor of deep lakes, abandoned hopes, and shattered dreams.
Watch the video for “Lakehouse” below:
Johnny Dynamite is the creative alter ego of the synth-focused singer, songwriter, and producer John Morisi. He draws inspiration from the graphic artistry of his grandfather, celebrated comic book artist Pete Morisi, adopting the name of one of his most iconic characters – a maverick detective from the underworld…a creative reflection of this style of storytelling in The Tale of Tommy Gunn.
Beginning his journey in the mid-2010s, Dynamite carved a niche for himself in the vibrant New York DIY basement scene, eventually finding his home in the cultural melting pot of Brooklyn after years of touring. His creative process is nurtured in the intimacy of the bedroom studios he sets up throughout the city, honing his self-recording craft and rehearsing with his band.
As a frontman, lyricist, and vocalist, Dynamite excels as a raconteur. His vocals are imbued with moodiness and a touch of rebellion, reflecting the complexities of an introspective observer caught in the lingering radiance of life’s spectacles.
The Tale of Tommy Gun is out on September 6, 2023.
Pre-order the vinyl here.
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