Just Joans 1 Mark K’s been busy of late but he clearly felt he had to give a proper shout to some cracking bands after their Winter Sprinter gig at the Lexington. Check it and them all out below…


Tonight marks the final Winter Sprinter to be promoted by the Fortuna Pop label, this being the case because founder Sean Price has called time on the label after “20,200 releases, a mountain of debt, and very little sleep.” As a result the evening has a bit of a valedictory feel, with all of the acts performing thanking Sean Price for his efforts.

Luckily this feeling doesn’t extend to the music, and certainly not to that of Bill Botting and the Two Drink Minimums. Bill was the bass player for the already lamented (they only played their farewell gig in December) ‘Allo Darlin’, but that’s where the similarities between the two bands end.

The Two Drink Minimums commence their set with a song that is completely at odds with everything else they play tonight. It’s called The Rug and is a delicate love song sung by Bill Botting and his sister. Pretty much everything else after that is Stones-y country blues, and very well executed at that. Some of the lyrics are a tad unusual, for example: “Getting fucked in the restroom of an Oregon truck stop is not my idea of fun”. Well…..quite. Exchange the Oregon truck stop restroom for Newport Pagnell services on the M1 and it’s somehow not quite the same is it?!! Bill Botting and the Two Drink Minimums 1
Bill Botting and the Two Drink Minimums 2 We’re treated to a rather good cover of Paul Simon’s Graceland, whilst It’s Not Christmas Anymore rolls along like a Nick Lowe tune. This is essentially good time drinking music with a sense of humour the size of Washington State. Not only that, but they have two drummers and still manage to be as tight as a medieval thumbscrew.

Next up we have the evening’s serious band. They’re called Expert Alterations and they hail from Baltimore. They’re purveyors of more than serviceable American ‘college rock’ which is propelled by some truly thunderous drumming.

Their songs are tuneful and they make the most of the space that their three-piece line-up provides them with. They have one album: You Can’t Always Be Liked, and I believe that another is on the way. One song from this album that stands out is Midnight Garden which is led by a pleasingly punchy bass riff. One of the new songs is Dear Thomas which, movingly, is about getting old and lonely. It certainly hints at the next album being packed with good things. Come back soon chaps. Expert Alterations

The Just Joans have been described elsewhere as “inexpert Scottish indie”, and that description is just totally unfair. They are undeniably Scottish and indie but inexpert?!! Certainly not based on tonight’s performance.

Just Joans 1 Apart from their musical capabilities, the thing that most stands out about The Just Joans is their lyrics, which are dry, sardonic, frequently hilarious, and largely have a massive ring of truth about them. Baby’s a Boy Racer for example is fast but by no means upbeat. Naturally the protagonist dies… Five Beer Bottles blames alcohol (probably not unreasonably) for “pregnancies and STDs”. Sleeperbloke harks back to the Britpop era to the point that it sounds as if it entirely comes from then.

If You Don’t Pull is preceded by a tribute to ‘Allo Darlin’ who covered it. It’s another song that presents an undeniable truth:

“If you don’t pull, then you’ll walk home on your own,

And if you walk home on your own, then you’ll wake up on your own”

Well – there’s no arguing with that! You Make Me Physically Sick meanwhile has a hilariously happy tune!

This band really does deserve more exposure, certainly when compared with some of the dullards (hi Coldplay) whose ‘product’ is pushed at us. Just Joans gigs south of the border are seemingly as rare as rocking horse shit. However, they got a pretty rousing reception at the Lexington, so maybe they’ll be down again before too long.

Just Joans 2

Here’s hoping.


Mark Kelly


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Bill Botting and the Two Pint Minimums

Expert Alterations

The Just Joans


Check out more gig reviews from Mark on Carabas here…