(UNEVEN) IMPRESSIVE ELEVATOR PROG MEETS (UNEVEN) BROODING EPIC THUNDER: IREPRESS & JUNIUS AT WEBSTER HALL STUDIO (12/12/09)
So our year-end lists and the holidaze took over (as they often do), and I’ve been snoozing on writing something about this show….but a few things ought be said bout these two bands.
I included Irepress’ recent Sol Eye Sea as an honorable mention on my Best of 2009 List, and for good reason: the Beantowners with a crispy pocket rhythm section seem to be (slowly) evolving their sound into something special that a lot of folks are responding to.
HAVING SAID THAT, pure proggery alone does not an amazing band maketh….Irepress still needs work in the songwriting department in the sense that their tunes would be so much stronger with slightly less slick shoegazy guitar meandering and more focus on tighter melodic structures, at least for some extended sections so they can communicate more of that “song” feeling.
And while I was digging on the sparse yet effective useage of vocals on their most recent album, at the show nobody was mic’d for those parts — instead a few of the guys shouted out the vocals au natural…..why? A friend of a friend of the band told me that they typically do that for live shows, keep it instrumental and just shout out vocals with the fans that know the words — but as a result that same friend (who had never heard the band before) said that he felt like something was missing, and frankly, it was. Had the vocals been mic’d and actually considered to be part of the songs, they would have likely contributed quite a bit.
At the end of the day, this is a talented prog-prog-proggy hot-groove (almost getting four-on-the-floor disco-esque at times) metallish band that will certainly appeal to some, but have a bit of a ways to go before they truly capitalize on the sound they seem to be going for.
On a completely different end of the spectrum, Junius are a lush, huge-sounding group within a genre subsection where a huge sound is not always expected or appreciated. There is certainly an ample amount of character in their tunes, but this band also has some significant areas to work on.
First off, Junius wears their influences a bit too much on their collective sleeve — I liked the singer’s voice, but his approach and timbre (at least live) is very reminiscent of Julian Casablancas from The Strokes (who I have always liked as well, especially from a stylistic standpoint), a slightly odd choice for a heavy-ish band…..however, it mostly worked in an interesting fashion so whatevz.
Overall soundwise, I would definitely cite Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky, but a couple other unexpected influences I heard contributed to a dark 80s new wave-ish feeling, a la Joy Division, The Smiths, or even Duran Duran. This will likely turn off the tr00est of y’all out there, but your girlfriends may dig em quite a bit, and there is something to be said for that.
A few other quick constructive criticisms and then a positive wrap-up (because these guys have tons of potential so I don’t want to overshadow that…)
1- not nearly enough variety…..every song sounded pretty similar; not carbon copies but close enough in mood and scope that I “got” the band pretty early into their set, and thus wasn’t nearly as captivated from start to finish as I would have liked.
2- a few too many times I caught some extremely trite & clichéd lyrics, to the point where I could predict what was coming next based on too-obvious rhyming patterns…..who needs that?
3- the drummer was fine, but his snare tone was awful….dull and flat! I don’t think this was a sound issue because everything else sounded pretty balanced and clear — time to buy a new snare?
Which brings me to the positive: if Junius has a sharp creative spurt and tightens the loose ends, they could have a pretty powerful & accessible sound on their hands…..the combination of dark indie-ish melodo-brood and bombastic arena post-metal is not too often heard, let alone achieved well.
Judging by the chicks at this show eye-fucking the poster boy black-clad tortured rocker dudes playing this music, my inclination is to suggest taking a slightly more diverse approach next time around — clearly these are musicians who are into many different kinds of music; opening up the sound even further could go a long way and create a very successful group with a sizeable sad girl fan base, over time or (with the right album) even overnight….who the fuck knows what to expect anymore?