Janitor Joe

  • Janitor Joe
  • Big Metal Birds (Amphetamine Reptile) 1993 
  • Lucky (Amphetamine Reptile) 1994 

This workmanlike Minneapolis trio — the first recording project of the late Kristen Pfaff, who left Janitor Joe to accept the bass slot in Hole — is appropriately named, given the blue-collar manner in which it rakes through grit-mottled riffs, fashioning a burnished, no-frills end product likely to pique the curiosity of those prone to solicit ear perforation. On Big Metal Birds, Pfaff and guitarist/primary vocalist Joachim Breuer (a former member of the Bastards) share songwriting duties. Both operate within easy reach of the line separating punishment and reward: Pfaff’s contributions (the surly “Boys in Blue”) tend to be slightly more spacious, while Breuer’s (“One Eye,” for instance) stipulate that drummer Matt Entsminger maintain perpetual motion.

After Pfaff’s departure, the remaining Joes recruited bassist Wayne Davis, a slightly less aggressive player than Pfaff, who is missed on tracks, like “Piss Corner,” that would benefit from her take-no-prisoners style. Still, Breuer’s menacing rasp and abstract-but-ornery prose keep tension levels at or above the minimum daily requirement, most notably on the dismissive “Pest” and “No Smokes for Wave.”

[Deborah Sprague]

See also: Hole