The Unusual Sensation Of Feeling Sorry For Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong

Today Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong revealed that they've scrapped their debut album. Yet Luke Turner can still find it within himself to shed a tear.

There are a few positions of opinion in which one never expects to find oneself. Voting Tory, perhaps, or considering the German rail timetable 1937 to 1945 a work of unassailable genius. How about thinking Jeremy Clarkson is a good egg? Today, I found myself in the unaccountable situation of feeling a little bit sorry for Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong after the band revealed that they were to scrap their album (on the day it got 8/10 in NME – oops) and re-record a new one (because “They’ve grown as musicians, the album was recorded too early in their career") for release next year.

Now, you don’t have to be a genius to work out that the truth is that Vertigo/Mercury wielded the axe after deciding they couldn’t risk spunking any more cash on dressing this ten-legged, Libertines-aping turd in skinny jeans when they’ve recorded a stinker of an album that’ll inevitably bomb. Having heard the fruits of Joe Lean’s labours this afternoon, I can safely say that Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong (or their label) have spared our ears from an abomination. No doubt their eponymous debut will get leaked across the internet to be downloaded by more people than would have bought the disc curious to hear why it didn’t represent the band at their peak, but it seems unlikely that the teenage hype machine will retain enough of an interest for the “perfect” JL&TJJJ album ever to see the light of day.

Yet it’s not hard to feel a little pity for Joe Lean and his unfortunate troupe. For in a climate saturated by piss-poor "indie" bands, why should theirs be the album that doesn’t get a release? We’re surrounded by shelf after shelf of appalling major label, focus group acts who seem to be signed due to their terrifying similarity to one another, and an ever paler Xerox of the Libertines, Strokes and the scrag end of Britpop.

This conveyor belt of gobstopper-voiced haircut acts offers the same illusion of choice that we’re presented with in all aspects of early 21st century British culture, be that in boozers, bread shops, newspapers, bands – supposedly we live in a time with more access to variety than ever before. The reality is, of course, entirely the opposite. That one such false option has been removed from polluting our culture can only be a good thing. Yet the major labels insist on wasting hard currency forcing the likes of The View, Dirty Pretty Things, Courteeners et al upon us, bands who will leave nothing to posterity save their unsold records and mountains of receipts forming the tombstone of the music industry that their mediocrity helped to destroy.

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