If you haven’t heard of Junior Astronomers already… well, you’re probably one of many. That’s not to say though, that now that I have your attention you shouldn’t check them out. If my word isn’t enough, perhaps this will serve as better incentive – you choose your price to buy their new EP. Not sure if you like them? Download it for free, and should you fall in love with them, you can donate to keep them going (unsigned bands are perhaps the least financially secure endeavors in the known universe). As it happens, Junior Astronomers’ I Just Want to Make a Statement is worth any price you might decide to pay for it.
Soundwise, Junior Astronomers put to rest the commonly held belief that indie is dull by nature. These Charlotte, North Carolina natives are catchy and calculated, but also loud and impulsive, like Ted Leo being played by Bloc Party. The band is particularly skilled at fusing rambunctious indie rock with more subtle musical motifs. For example, the second half of “Dying Rhythms” sounds like this generation’s take on surf rock, with a little bit of what sounds like what Sean Connery-era James Bond theme music. The song is accentuated by jungle-esque basslines that emphasize bassist Colin’s playing. “Settle Down” is as provocative as it is noisy, in the sense that it makes you want to accomplish something. The repetition (repetition of lines is something Junior Astronomers do tastefully and effectively) of the line “I’ll teach you how to settle down” is like reverse psychology. The band is also skilled at creating atmosphere within their songs. This premise is apparent in “Fox and the Hound” which does a lot with space to make the song that much more dynamic. Eli’s drumming is tight, and it uses a lot of subtleties to add to the songs, and Jeff and Philip’s guitar lines are layered in a way that yields the same result. The closing track, “Bad Bones”, is particularly impressive, simply because repetition and 6 minute long songs don’t usually complement eachother. However, in this case, the combination creates an appropriately hopeful ending to I Just Want to Make a Statement.
There’s another reason why you should be keeping an eye on Junior Astronomers – their live shows. Any North Carolinian who has stumbled into a Junior Astronomers show will tell you that to use the words “emotive” and “energetic” to describe them would be an understatement (brownie points for the first person to find the video of lead singer Terrence banging on a floor tom like that Phil Collins gorilla in the chocolate commercial – it exists). Terrence’s desperate, shouted vocals create a striking contrast with otherwise spacey, if not minimalist verses. Junior Astronomers also do a fantastic job of creating a band-audience connection. Too often does one see a good, energetic band perform at less than their best because the crowd didn’t have the energy to match. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Junior Astronomers – a quick YouTube serch will demonstrate how at points, it’s hard to even distinguish the audience from the band.
I Just Want to Make a Statement isn’t flawless. The production quality isn’t stellar, and to some listeners, Terrence’s vocals might get tiring after a while. The reason Junior Astronomers sophomore EP is so noteworthy is because, despite any downside it might have, it does just about everything right. It is just long enough to satisfy a listener, but too short to bore them. I Just Want to Make a Statement provokes emotion and displays the collective musical prowess of the band. The point is, it’s a too good an EP not to pick up, especially considering the price. So, check out Junior Astronomers, and support local, unsigned artists. Statement made.
Free Download Here: http://juniorastronomers.bandcamp.com/