by Aaron Schleicher
2010 has been a pretty stellar year for new music across the board I must say. Yet when I get up in the morning, throw on the headphones, and take my leisurely walk to the bus, Sweden’s own Jose Gonzalez, Tobias Winterkorn, and Elias Araya– also known as Junip— has been my daily soundtrack to sit back and take in the beautiful city of Milwaukee. (Most people probably got their first introduction to Jose Gonzalez with his 2007 solo release In Our Nature— also still in my daily rotation– which put Jose on the map as a legitimate indie folk superstar.) The newest album, FIELDS, takes what most modern bands are doing with acoustic guitar and whispery, pretty vocals and throws that concept back a few decades.
On FIELDS, the trio takes those roots of Gonzalez’s songwriting, and they create something so intentionally dirty and rhythm driven that you get caught in a bit of musical limbo with this record. The band recalls, “Our feeling was that we could do something more interesting with a setting that was more typical of the ‘60s and ’70s. It felt like everyone else was into Americana and country with steel stringed guitars. We had nylon strings and a Moog.”
Throughout the record, Gonzalez’s simplified, driven guitar lines and beautifully phrased and sung lyrics, are dynamically contrasted by thick, layered organ sounds and the pulsing, intricate drumming of his two bandmates. What meets you in the middle of all of this is a sound so sonic and oddly driving that it makes your head bob for the entirety of the 47-minute album. At most points, I was often wondering how the lush sounds of FIELDS was created by only three people. More impressive, the band doesn’t seem to rely on studio tactics or layers and layers of overdubs to accomplish this. The diversity and simplicity of the album makes what Junip created on FIELDS that much more endearing.
For an album that is essentially a beautiful “folk” record, it’s incredible how there are parts where you could imagine Lemmy Kilmister singing and playing bass, parts where feel like you’re in South America dancing Samba, and parts where you feel like you should be fist-pumping at a Hip-Hop concert. From start to finish, the album takes you on wonderful winding ride, ending perfectly with a fuzzy jam that would make Ozzy and company proud.