Junip Junip (2013) Mute Records On their self-titled full length sophomore release, Junip stake a definitive claim into the world of indie folk. As a band, Junip have been in existence for over a decade, but the fact that this is only their second album (the first, Fields, came out in 2010), is quite unusual. Junip made a few EPs early on, and took a break for lead singer Jose Gonzalez to launch a solo career. His hauntingly beautiful cover of The Knife's "Heartbeats" made music audiences take pause, and Gonzalez quickly reached levels of stardom that solo musicians only hope to achieve. Fast-forward a few years, and Junip's following has increased exponentially. This is notably quite a role-reversal. It is much more often the case that a lead singer of a popular band splits off on his own; but rarely does a band's status rise after their lead singer's does, and it was refreshing to see Gonzalez happily return to Junip. It takes merit to not get carried away in a moment of fame, although this never seemed to be his game. The musician always gave off a shy, humbled air -- one that was appreciative, introspective, and even a tad mysterious. He is not outspoken, and every move is deliberate. What Gonzalez brings to the table is his unique ability to sound quiet and forcefully loud at the same time. It's what makes him one of the more gifted vocalists of the past 10 years, and also highlights how he adds to this sense of balance throughout Junip, which contains a similar earnest, deliberate quy throughout, but without deference to the fame of Gonzalez.

 

Two years ago, I took the train across the bay to Oakland to see José González perform the best acoustic set I've seen to date, while he was touring for In Our Nature. I didn't know much about him really, except that his cover of The Knife's "Heartbeats" was undeniably good, as was the rest of Veneer and his sophomore album. That was all.

So, when Junip, a band González helped formed in the late '90s, began to push Fields singles around the internet, it was admittedly the first I'd heard of them. A few Fields listens deep however, it becomes blazingly clear that Junip's unique sound is not to be overlooked.

 

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