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Jonny and the Shamen



Reverb alert! Mobile, Alabama quintet Jonny and the Shamen lays it on heavy with classic ride-the-waves instrumental guitar music that blends the old-school surf rock of Dick Dale and The Ventures with the spooky conspiracy themes of '60s espionage thrillers and TV serials like The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. From time to time they spike the punch with a bit of experimental weirdness -- freaky effects, sci-fi beats, theremin spookiness -- but for the most part, they play reverent, incredibly energetic rolling instrumental rock that will make you want to jump right into the Batmobile. Sound a little familiar? Yes, Jonny and the Shamen has more than a little in common with screwball surf terrorists Man or Astro-man?, who are also from -- you guessed it -- Alabama. Is there some kind of cult down there that the rest of us should know about?

These five Agents of JATS, as they refer to themselves -- guitarist/Moogist Jonny Stratosphere, bassist Dan-O Bookem, drummer C.H.E.C.K.P.O.I.N.T., second guitarist No. 2, and keyboardist Grave Danger -- have been unraveling the conspiracy since 1996. They released their first full-length Operation: Twang! in '97 on Pensacola-based Loch Ness Records. They've since followed that with their 1999 Turducken release, The Fully Functional Adventures in Espionage Video Game, which was coproduced by Man or Astro-man? drummer Birdstuff and features the songs "Stratosphere Mortuary Theme," "Boris Bomb," "Clip the Wrong Wire...," and "J.A.T.S. Are Go!"