Monday, May 2
It's unusual for any long-standing band with a famous member to release their first proper album in their>"/>
Monday, May 2
Junip, with Acrylics
Monday, May 2
It's unusual for any long-standing band with a famous member to release their first proper album in their tenth year, but that's just what Junip, the Swedish trio led by Jose Gonzalez, did last year with Fields. During the band's hiatus (they put out just one EP before their first and only full length) Gonzalez was, of course, recording multiple albums and establishing himself as a solo artist, while the group's other two members were busy with projects of their own. Finally getting the timing right with Fields, Gonzalez's sparsely delicate arrangements are fleshed out into expansive, meditative cuts that marry his acoustic sensibilities with dreamy, electronic moods.
The floor filled up steadily during Brooklyn new-wave Acrylics' opening set (Gonzalez listened in while leaning on the sound booth at the back of the venue) and by the time the band emerged - as a five piece with two drummers, one on bongos, the other on a standard kit - the main floor was packed. The group opened with hypnotic track "Official" off their 2006 EP Black Refuge, with lyrics seeming to nod to the big news of the day: "It's official now/From exception to rule/From your pen to everyone's mouth/Rewritten and translated/To fit everyone's taste."
It seemed that the incredible news of the day - that the world's most wanted terrorist had been killed - only heightened the effect of the group's mesmerizing folktronic sounds, and Junip had a hold over the crowd from the start. Example: people were dancing their butts off - by Seattle standards at least (which means most of the crowd were shimmying legs and nodding heads, and a few were prancing and gyrating like it was an interpretative dance audition). It was funny and odd - one such dancer sported a flopping fanny pack apparently made of leather - but it also seemed the grooving mass was working out some long-held, existential anxieties, as if shaking off a bad dream.
It'd be that much harder to shimmy to one of Gonzalez's solo albums - they were solid but relied heavily - and simply - on his voice and guitar. With Junip, his work is all the more layered and interesting. Acoustic elements (finger-picked Spanish guitar, a recorder, bongos) and electric sounds (Moog synthesizer, Rhodes organ) hum along in a delicate balance that never seem to veer too far in either direction. Their hypnotic, droning jams have a meditative pull but Gonzalez's distinctive, rich vocals keep you from getting in too deep. With the band working harder than ever before, hopefully we'll see more from Junip in the future - and more dancing Seattlites when they return.
Overheard at the show:
"Thanks for not going to Fleet Foxes." - Jose Gonzalez.
"What do you think it costs to silkscreen something like that? 600 bucks?" - An attendee asking a friend about Junip's over-sized banner.
"Man, we were in Spokane last night. If you're from there that's cool, but it's no Seattle. You guys definitely win for the best city in Washington." - Jason Klauber, Acrylics.
The scene: Capitol Hill, 20- and 30-somethings, beards a-plenty, thick-rimmed glasses, ladies in flats, flannels, skinny jeans, a good amount of dancin' fools.