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Feb 14th
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Waiting for Snow to Melt

music junipJosé González on the chilly atmosphere pervading Junip’s mesmerizing new record

Ten years ago, I used to have music as my hobby. My main thing was studying biochemistry,” reflects José González, from his home in Gothenburg, Sweden. “Nowadays, I have music as my work, but also as my hobby.”

As a full-time musician, the established indie folk singer/guitarist has had the opportunity to put out two LPs. He also has a knack for composing covers that rival their originals—Kylie Minogue’s “Hand on Your Heart” and The Knife’s “Heartbeats” being two prime examples.

But these days, it’s his work with Tobias Winterkorn (keys) and Elias Araya (drums) that has the internet abuzz.

Known collectively as Junip, a psych-rock outfit formed in 1998, the trio recently toured Europe in celebration of its eponymous full-length record, released last month. A follow-up to 2010’s upbeat folk-rock effort, Fields, Junip is a journey to the dark side, with brooding music and poetic, yet brutally realistic, lyrics.

The album’s distressing penultimate track, “Beginnings,” contains a powerful combination of Rhodes piano, expressive guitar, minimal drums and buzzing synth, as González advises the listener to “accept to live without answers to the questions running around your mind” instead of “searching for meaning where there is none.”

The reason that ominous tracks outnumber uplifting ones on Junip, according to González—the band’s sole lyricist—is simple: “I could probably write more cheerful lyrics … if we only made more cheerful music.

“I’m actually pretty gentle and goofy, but I do have my more thoughtful side,” he goes on. “When I’m writing lyrics, I’m in that sort of thoughtful mode and tend to figure out how to write lyrics that relate to the sort of seriousness of the music—because many of our songs have a serious chord progression.”

The resulting album is heavy in both theme and tone, but González is pleased with the result, and wouldn’t record it differently if given the opportunity.

“I’m super satisfied … lyrically, sonically—I wouldn’t want to change it,” he says.

With a wide variety of well-executed sounds, plus nods to some of González’s favorite artists from genres one may or may not expect—notice the Lee “Scratch” Perry reggae influence on “Suddenly”—his contentment is understandable.

Fans can expect to hear that song and more from Junip when Winterkorn, Araya, and González head to The Rio Theatre on Friday, with a backing band consisting of additional keyboards, percussion, and backup vocals.

Asked what makes their live show unique, González is brief, yet telling: “It’s more about the music than a show, so to speak.”

Though short and simple, González’s statement has an arresting and lingering quality similar to that of the album closer: “After All is Said and Done.”

The cinematic track is Junip’s silver lining. Despite cynicism present throughout the album, the final song leaves Junip on a glimmering and mesmerizing note: “Underneath the snow lies the grass ready to grow,” sings González, whose wise reminder beats on indefinitely, through the pulsing support of an unwavering drum machine. 


Junip performs at 8 p.m. Friday, May 31 at The Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $23 via Ticketweb and Tomboy (next to The Rio). For more information, call 423-8209.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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