Junip: Fields

Artist: Junip

Title: Fields
Release date: September 14
Label: Mute

I admit to being one of those swept up in Jose Gonzalez fever in the wake of that TV ad (circa 2003) with all the colorful balls bouncing all over San Francisco. My then-fiancée bought Veneer, the debut album by the Swedish guitarist, and I really dug it for about two weeks. Then, suddenly, I couldn't imagine ever listening to it again. And there it sat on my CD rack until I recently sold it to Zia.

Gonzalez, one of the few indie rockers who exclusively wields a classical guitar, had a great gimmick -- just his guitar and voice -- that, at first, was exciting in its unconventionality. It didn't take me long to realize that Gonzalez made similarly monotoned Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon singer/guitarist Mark Kozelek seem positively emo by comparison.

I'd all but written off Gonzalez until the new CD by Junip landed on my desk. The Swedish trio features Gonzalez on vox and guitar along with a drummer and a keys/synth player, along with some auxiliary musicians scattered throughout. And they're making me view Gonzalez in a whole new context, one that's actually pretty cool.

Gonzalez still has that ghostly, soft-focus voice and still plays a nylon-string classic guitar -- so it's not as though he's making a racket in Junip, but, make no mistake, this band actually rocks in its own understated way. "Howl" plays like The Feelies tearing up a coffeehouse with an acoustic set, and "Sweet & Bitter" features a snarly guitar line that any garage-psych band would be proud to play, and seven-minute album closer "Tide" is like a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club acoustic demo.

Bottom line, the atmospheric Fields sounds like a great record for our first fall-like day here in Phoenix.

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Junip - Rope and Summit by sanfordco

Best song: "Rope & Summit."
Rotation: Medium-heavy
Deja vu: Music for a cloudy day.
I'd rather listen to: The Feelies. I saw 'em in 1990 and they played "Paint It, Black" at lightspeed.
Grade: B+

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

The "Nothing Not New" Archives

September 28 -- No Age: Everything in Between (A-)

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