Brother JT is John Terlesky, best known as the lead singer and chief songwriter for the Original Sins. Back in the 1980s and 90s, the Philadelphia-based band churned out some of the best garage-punk of their day — check out “Out of My Mind” if you’re looking for a crunchy, catchy sample. Even before the band split up around the turn of the century, JT built a strong solo career as well, playing around with walls of feedback (Descent, released in 1991) and recording LPs from the comfort of his own bedroom (1996’s appropriately titled Rainy Day Fun). To date, Brother JT’s released twenty full-length albums to his name (three in partnership with Vibrolux); his most recent effort, This Mud’s For You, came out last September.
Now, Brother JT’s back again with The Svelteness of Boogietude, out next week on Thrill Jockey. Despite the album’s title — and the grinning, grilled man on the cover — this isn’t a venture into funk or crunk. But it certainly does have “boogietude,” whatever that is. “Somebody Down There,” the album’s lead single, employs limber, loose guitar lines and a modest undercurrent of bass, creating a lazy groove so laid-back, even its life-and-death thematics seem chill: “We all on the same boat, baby/ Rowing to the other side,” he growls, his gravelly croon stark against the loosey-goosey instrumentation. “Some of us are stroking/ Some of us are choking/ Some are just along for the ride.” Biblical references abound: Solomon with his gold, Samson with his “700 wives and so-and-so.” But though such figures are steeped in lore, they’re still folks just like us, floating off on the River Styx. And that’s what makes the song so intriguing; it addresses the big “what-ifs” with a shrug and a smile, reminding us that even in h-e-double-hockey-sticks, there’s always somebody down there who’s just like us.
Check out “Somebody Down There” along with bonus tracks, “Hoosier Mummy” and “Hoosier Daddy.”