Entertainment

Noise Annoys: Jim Bob on chart battle for new album Who Do We Hate Today, plus Docs Ireland musical selections

Jim Bob says "buy my album now, please"
Jim Bob says "buy my album now, please" Jim Bob says "buy my album now, please"

JIM BOB has been here before: a year ago, the former Carter USM leader turned novelist and solo artist was in the midst of a promotional campaign for his fantastic Brexit-battered album Pop Up Jim Bob which eventually hit the dizzy heights of Number 26 in the Proper Album Charts.

Released last Friday, at time of writing (Wednesday afternoon), the south London musician's excellent new record Who Do We Hate Today is currently poised precariously over the Actual Top 20, despite having garnered virtually no airplay from the UK independent music scene's commercial life-support system, BBC 6Music.

Ever the punk rocker, Jim Bob always feels kind of awkward about self-promotion. In fact, he's already tired of talking about Who Do We Hate Today when Noise Annoys phones him mere days before its release.

"I've been going on about it since it first went on pre-sale, so it sort of feels like it's already been out for months," he admits.

"It would be nice to actually stop talking about it for a bit."

You just don't get that kind of honesty with Ed Sheeran, do you?

Having hit Number One with Carter's 1992: The Love Album almost 30 years ago, Jim knows all about the double-edged sword of pop success where any chart position lower than your last one equals 'failure'.

"In a way, I wish I'd never drawn attention to the whole chart thing last time, because inevitably I'm going to find myself saying, 'Oh yeah, I never thought the charts were important anyway' when it goes in at Number 50 or something," he tells me.

"At the moment, it's sort of selling the same amount as the last one, but even then everything sort of depends on what other people do: if someone decides to re-release a Fleetwood Mac album or something then you don't stand a chance."

He adds: "Even more so than the last one, it's sort of up to me and the audience [to promote the album]. I never want to be bitter about it or anything, but I don't get a lot of radio play and the broadsheet newspapers don't want to talk to me."

That's a travesty, because Who Do We Hate Today is another cracking album which finds Jim building on the strong character-driven songwriting of Pop Up for a rousing, progressive punk pop record which tackles the paranoia and angst of modern times with wit and verve.

Who Do We Hate Today is the follow-up to last year's Pop Up Jim Bob
Who Do We Hate Today is the follow-up to last year's Pop Up Jim Bob Who Do We Hate Today is the follow-up to last year's Pop Up Jim Bob

Topics for Jim's thoughtful lyrics and tunes include Covid (Song For The Unsung, The Summer of No Touching), global terror (A Random Act, Evan Knows The Sirens), toxic masculinity (Men, #prayfortony, Shona Is Dating A Drunk, Women-Hating Neanderthal Man), social media psychopathy (the title track, Karen (Is Thinking of Changing Her Name)), environmental collapse (The Earth Bleeds Out) and the emotional welfare of zoo animals (The Loneliest Elephant In The World).

Sadly, it seems that using the pandemic as a creative springboard proved too much for the powers that Beeb when it came to playlisting Jim's witty guitar pop single The Summer of No Touching.


"We were pretty much told they couldn't play it because it was 'about the coronavirus' – but it's not as if it's a song saying the coronavirus is great," he explains.

"I don't think radio stations want to go near anything topical, especially 'funny' topical. Even going back to Carter, the lyrics have always been a hindrance in terms of airplay because they are 'about' something.

"We had songs banned [by the BBC] during the Gulf War because they were anti-war songs, essentially. Then we went on tour in Germany and all they were playing on the radio was anti-war songs. Maybe escapism is over-rated?"

Possibly, though the writing of Who Do We Hate Today did offer Jim Bob a welcome distraction from the blossoming pandemic during the early months of 2020 – even if the actual recording with backing band The Hoodrats proved more stressful.

"We made it right in the middle of the first lockdown where you weren't supposed to leave the house unless you had a really important job," he tells me.

"So I had to decide that making a pop record was a really important job."

In this case, indeed it was. Regardless of where it has eventually landed in the charts by the time you're reading this, Who Do We Hate Today will always be a great record. If you don't already own it, download it via Spotify or point your internet enabled device at Cherryred.co.uk/artist/jim-bob and buy a dassette, CD and/or limited edition vinyl LP today – every purchase strikes a chart-eligible blow for pop justice.


:: DOCS IRELAND ROCKS

BELFAST'S Docs Ireland festival has a some great factual music-orientated films lined up for us tomorrow evening.

Ryan McMullan in a scene from Ryan McMullan: Debut
Ryan McMullan in a scene from Ryan McMullan: Debut Ryan McMullan in a scene from Ryan McMullan: Debut

Ryan McMullan: Debut (Odeon Belfast, 7pm) is a fly on-the-wall film about the making of the hotly-tipped local singer-songwriter's forthcoming debut album.

Director Brendan J Byrne made his name producing hard-hitting docs like No Stone Unturned and Bobby Sands: 66 Days. While Debut is obviously a comparatively lightweight affair, Byrne still captures telling moments – chiefly McMullan's rabbit-in-the-headlights expression as the 20-something grapples with the pressures of committing to an unexpected career in music and attempting to make his first big musical statement under the supervision of mentors/collaborators/champions Foy Vance and Paul 'Hammy' Hamilton.

Filmed over five years, fans will lap up the studio session snippets and behind-the-scenes/live footage including McMullan milestones like supporting Ed Sheeran and Snow Patrol and his 'homecoming' headliners at The Ulster Hall and CHSQ, where private doubts never seem to affect his ability to command intimidatingly huge stages with his emotive songs and arresting vocals.

Even the unconverted will warm to this very genuine, personable young talent while watching Debut – especially as there's also the odd spot of unintentional, mockumentary-esque humour to savour from Byrne's slickly made doc.

Lydia Lunch
Lydia Lunch Lydia Lunch

Lydia Lunch: The War is Never Over (Odeon Belfast, 7.30pm) is a far grittier affair. Directed by Beth B and driven by Lunch's own to-the-point to-camera testimony, the doc is a deep, revealing (often explicitly so) and at times troubling dive into the US no-wave star's life and prolific, provocative, 40+ year career in music, film and poetry.

Talking alt-rock godheads including Jim Sclavunos, Thurston Moore and Donita Sparks add their 10 cents to this compelling story of an uncompromising artist who has used her early sexual trauma as fuel for a life of theraputic, thrilling, no-holds-barred creativity.

The re-generated version of WITCH in action
The re-generated version of WITCH in action The re-generated version of WITCH in action

WITCH: We Intend To Cause Havoc (QFT Belfast, 8.45pm) is Gio Arlotta's film about the titular cult 1970s Zambian rock band, leading lights of the country's short-lived Black Sabbath and 1960s garage rock-influenced Zamrock explosion.

Initially, it's a heartbreaker: we learn most of the line-up are long dead, that iconic frontman Emmanuel 'Jagari' Chanda now toils as a miner and that almost all archive Zambian TV footage of WITCH has been lost.

Thus, WITCH's fading legacy became limited to a handful of super-rare vinyl albums and the memories of those lucky enough to witness their live spectacle.

However, Arlotta then ends up engineering and capturing the re-birth of WITCH in this enjoyable tribute to unjustly forgotten musical heroes: his hipster musician friends jam with Jagari in Zambia, which quickly leads to a live performance, then a series of album reissues and eventually a rabidly-received European tour which belatedly casts WITCH's spell far and wide.

:: Tickets via docsireland.ie