Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Good Ship Rediscovery: JJ72 – JJ72

We all forget about the older stuff from time to time, in our quest to stay up to speed with the latest and greatest. But one should always respect their elders. So don’t forget about them, y’hear?

It's funny, listening to music that I used to love, because a lot of said music illustrates that my tastes haven't changed all that much. In the 11 years that have passed since I first got my hands on JJ72's self-titled LP, my appreciation for a well-crafted, loud song has, if anything, grown. The band was only around for two albums, but they can certainly be proud of JJ72. It still sounds wonderful to my ears, and hopefully to yours as well.

In 2000, JJ72 was getting lots of buzz in the UK, and deservedly so. The trio of very young, very hot Irish upstarts made such a name for themselves while I was ensconced in the residence halls of Glasgow University that they opened for The Dandy Warhols at The Garage, which I must say was quite a show. JJ72's music is full of rather dramatic bits and pieces, at times making me think of them as a baby Muse, though they never get quite as rough as the lads of Muse are wont to do. I've always felt a delicacy to JJ72, it's as though just under the surface they're afraid of breaking something, or being broken themselves. Such moments really come to the fore in songs like "Willow," a song that glides and sways like the branches after which it takes its name. Singer/guitarist Mark Greaney offers up quite a vocal performance on the record, his voice mercurial in its ability to sound both little boy lost and devil in disguise, occasionally in the same song.

Opening track "October Swimmer" was big for the band, and is big as a song as well. Don't let that gentle bit of acoustic strumming and Greaney's shy cooing fool you. It won't take long before the pedals get stepped on and things get cranked up and Greaney does his best Matt Bellamy impression (testing his aggressive falsetto range, that is). "Oxygen" was another song that really got folks excited about JJ72, powerful and grasping and bursting with an unbridled need to be heard. It's a song that, with those added strings, shows off the band's need to get a little dramatic. "Long Way South" was, and is still, my favorite on the record. Its perky drum machine feel and bounding energy make it one hell of a catchy little tune.

Even now, this record sounds like a breath of fresh air to me. It's the sound of youthful exuberance recorded, and is one of those records that represents a rather special time in the life of yours truly. Definitely recommended if you've never given JJ72 a go.

m4a: Long Way South (JJ72 from JJ72)

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