Jonny Polonsky hasn’t lived in Chicago for a really long time, he currently lives in New York after a long stint in L.A., but we’ll always claim him as our own. The power-pop master rocketed to fame in the ‘90s after garnering a passel of famous fans and a debut album, Hi My Name is Jonny, produced by The Pixies’ Frank Black. The limelight kept searching for him, but after that he largely retreated to a sideman and songwriter role for other artists and kept his own material in a vault and to himself. Over the last 22 years, Polonsky has only released 5 albums of his own, however that doesn’t mean the dude wasn’t productive, he just wasn’t sharing with the rest of us.
His just released UNRELEASHED: Demos and Rarities 1996-2018 is a collection of songs over that time period Polonsky never deigned to release. When you listen to it, though, prepare to be knocked flat on your ass because Polonsky’s outtakes and demos are better than most people’s full-length albums constructed through years of planning and deliberation. The opening track “Everywhere All The Time” sets the template, with stomping verses and soaring choruses. It sounds like it was written yesterday despite having sat in Polonsky’s musical vault for over a decade.
There’s breadth and depth here. While most of the tunes are full on rockers, there are moneys of lush reflection. “Your Shattered World” is one of those oasis of respite, proving Polonsky isn’t all guitar wrecking balls. There’s heart in here too, so lift your lighters and sing along.
Polonsky makes a rare return visit to his old home base of Chicago next week on November 28 at Gman Tavern. His old pal Jason Batchko (Caviar, Scott Lucas & The Married Men) opens the evening.