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Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong: Better Late Than Never

Lyndsey Parker
The New Now

Almost exactly two years ago, I became obsessed with a British buzz band somewhat tongue-twistingly named Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong, after seeing them at Britain's V Festival in 2007. A babyfaced gang of nattily suited, shag-haircutted mod boys who wisely limited their sharp, spiky pop tunes to a positively Buzzcockian two minutes or less--thus cramming as many finger-snapping, toe-tapping numbers as possible into their all-too-brief 25-minute sidestage set--they immediately became my new favorite band. One of my U.K. friends (probably disparagingly) dubbed the pinup-worthy indie boy band as "the new Duran Duran," but since I was (and am) a big fan of the old Duran Duran, I interpreted this as the highest of praise, of course. I felt the world needed a new Duran Duran.

So upon returning to U.S. soil I embarked on a mission to get Joe and his JJJ's into the Y! studio, pronto. I now somewhat sheepishly admit that getting some facetime with the almost impossibly, breathtakingly pretty-faced Mr. Lean (a former teen actor/model and onetime cast member of The Tudors) was my secret side-agenda. But I also loved JL&JJJ's unique Smiths-meets-Spector sound, and I therefore was thrilled when I finally secured a command performance and interview with British baby band at South By Southwest 2008. Result!

Well....um...while I pride myself on being ahead of the curve when it comes to breaking music, it seems I was a little TOO early in this instance. See, not long after playing something like 19 buzz-generating gigs at SXSW '08, a stressed-out Joe Lean & the Jing Jang Jong--an overnight sensation that had received tons of U.K. music press coverage and label interest after something like only eight U.K. gigs, and who I witnessed engaging in a lot of band-infighting during their SXSW session--decided at the last minute to entirely scrap their debut album. Originally set for a summer '08 release, the band claimed the album had been recorded too quickly (to capitalize on their insta-buzz) and that it didn't accurately "represent" the group. Damn!

But now, exactly two years after I first saw them at the V Festival, JL&JJJJ are set to make a live "comeback" at V 2009 next week, along with an intimate pre-festival warmup gig at London's trendy Barfly club. Their re-recorded debut album will now supposedly be released in early 2010...assuming they don't shelve those recordings as well.

So...will the JL&JJJJ album be worth the wait? The delay shouldn't matter much in America--where no one but me and like, five other people knew who they were anyway--but in Britain's fickle and short-term-memory'd music market, it may hurt them indeed. But I'm just hoping they do become huge--that they really do become "the new Duran Duran"--when their album finally comes out, because it would be pretty cool to boast that Yahoo! has "unreleased outtakes" like the videos above.

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