Infinite Shuffle

October 3, 2010

45 – Jaill

Filed under: J, Milwaukee, Wisconsin — assman41 @ 12:01 am

I’ve been putting off doing a review of Jaill, mostly because I’ve had a hard time thinking of an apt description for their sound. That’s because they are influenced by multiple different scenes, spanning several decades of the rock spectrum.

Most prominently, Jaill does a good job of channeling the ’60s pop sound — specifically the British Invasion vibe, even though they’re four guys from Milwaukee. Occasionally, they’re also reminiscent of the garage/surf rock of that era.

But they do all this through a modern frame of reference and include some of the lo-fi ethos of the early ’90s. The description they give in their own bio is pretty spot-on.

Up-tempo, guitar-driven twang-twee with punk attitude … disarmingly cheerful at surface level. But, dive into the lyrics and things get weird. Jaill hooks the ears with insistent, upbeat pop and twanged-up garage elements, which grow deliciously darker with further investigation.

I occasionally thought lead singer Vinnie Kircher’s vocals reminded me of the leader of the Cold War Kids, especially on the song “The Stroller”.

True to their early forebears, few of the songs on their second album, That’s How We Burn, crack the 3-minute barrier, which makes the 11-track disc go by quickly. It’s like a shot of pop-rock to get you through the day.

I’ve already listened to it about 10 times since first discovering the album at a couple of record stores while vacationing in Portland and Seattle.

The fact that the band is signed to Sub Pop Records should be reason enough to pick up the album.

Head over to their MySpace page to check out a few of their songs, including a trio from their debut album, There’s No Sky (Oh My My).


September 19, 2010

43 – Zola Jesus

Filed under: Los Angeles, Wisconsin, Z — assman41 @ 12:01 am

As I was driving out of Seattle a few weeks ago, bound for a brewpub in Tacoma, I had the radio in my rental car tuned to KEXP — which, other than “The End”, is really the only station Seattlites should ever listen to.

Anyways, as I was peering at the Space Needle in my rearview mirror, a song came on the radio that was so dark and haunting, I couldn’t help but become transfixed by it.

I had to wait a few more songs before the DJ came on and alerted me that the track was “I Can’t Stand” by Zola Jesus.

Naturally, one of the first things I did when I returned home from my vacation was look up this mysterious artist. Turns out it’s just one woman — Nika Roza Danilova — a Wisconsin-bred lass who relocated to Los Angeles and put her opera training to good use by channeling the darkest of old-school goth music.

She reminded me of a few artists from the ’80s. At first, I thought she sounded like the Cocteau Twins on crack — or, more correctly, depressants — but, perhaps a more apt comparison would be Siouxsie and the Banshees.

A contemporary counterpart would be The XX, but a lot darker and more gothic. Ironically enough, she will be opening for the “female chromosomes” on a tour of the U.S. this fall.

Zola Jesus put out a lot of music the past couple years, including a couple singles, three EPs, a split LP with Burial Hex and a trio of full-length albums. The last of which, Stridulum II, builds on a similarly named EP and includes several strong tracks, including the aforementioned “I Can’t Stand”, the opener, “Night”, and “Sea Talk”.

For more songs and info, check out her MySpace page and official website. There are also a few tracks available for free download at RCRD LBL.

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