Wednesday, September 15, 2010

music - Junip

After obsessively blues-rocking out to J Roddy Walston almost nonstop for the past few weeks (I caught their show at Great American Music Hall here in SF, and I'm going to see them at the Double Door in Chicago next week, because I happen to be traveling there anyway, and not because I'm following them, hoping they'll read this blog, call me up on stage, ask me to guest-drum on "Uh Oh Rock n Roll", then forgive me when I completely butcher it and invite me to do shots of Evan Williams with them anyway), I think it's clear I need to mellow out.

Enter Fields, the latest full-length album from the Jose Gonzalez-fronted Junip, a band busying themselves in the most vague of musical genres: "singer/songwriter". Not nearly as sparse as Gonzalez's solo albums, Fields nonetheless builds on the atmospheric qualities of his solo work, namely loneliness, desperation, yet again forsaking sun-shininess. Junip even makes use of (gasp) percussion to send "Rope and Summit" and "Sweet & Bitter" rollicking on rusty rails, suspended between the cornucopia of acoustic and synth elements and Gonzalez's unmistakable lead vocals.

It should come as no surprise to Gonzalez fans (and really, after "Heartbeats", you have to be a special breed of hater to exclude yourself from this group), but damn, this is one moody record!

What is surprising is that this band shows a hint of a sense of humor on the standout track "Always" (especially in the video). Here lies wit, ever-so-slight and completely deadpan, but present. This shows that Junip, and Gonzalez in particular, has put a special focus on growth, not just record to record or song to song, but within the songs themselves. You can almost see the band, faces illuminated by some sinister campfire, trading scowls with smirks.

Seriously guys, don't take it so seriously.

Score: 17/20

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