By Chris Zuver, staff writer
Some of you are familiar with a certain brand of jazzy post-rock that has been around since the mid-90s. Influenced heavily by the emo scene and progressive rock, most of these groups have remained isolated from the other scenes in their popularity, though this in no way subtracts from their merit and talent. From early pioneers like Cap’n Jazz to modern experimentalists like This Town Needs Guns, these are the types of bands who are continuing to make some of the most unique and engaging music in the rock scene.
Recently, from the depths of St. Louis’ eclectic music scene has emerged Jr. Clooney, a colorful-sounding and talented group. The quartet started two years ago as a project between four local musicians who took time aside from their other bands to get together and play. After discovering the common ground they all shared musically, Jr. Clooney became a full-time endeavor.
While “EP” is a short EP of only five songs, the musicians have made sure that every moment matters, starting with the opening track “Eyebrows,” which comes in smooth and welcoming, then suddenly jerks itself into a dance-friendly groove. The fact that the band understands hooks becomes evident quickly, as repetition is used with precision and is not overdone.
These pop sensibilities show up in other places, such as on the self-titled song “Junior Clooney” or in the opening guitar lead to “Saint of Inner Light,” which may be the most memorable melody on the album. As mentioned earlier, this band also knows when they risk wearing out their welcome and seem to know just when to switch the song up. This knowledge gives their music a sound that is reminiscent of improvisational music but with the rigidity of structured songwriting. Since Jr. Clooney has no vocalist, this quality is necessary since the instruments must carry the listener in the place of where a singer normally would.
Besides having pop sensibilities, everyone in the band knows how to play their instrument and play them very well. These two elements seem to balance out evenly, never throwing off the yin or yang of the sound. “Care” is the album’s technical tour-de-force, yet it has catchy melodies just the same.
Bands like Jr. Clooney are often called “musician’s musicians,” meaning that their level of technicality turns off the average listener and that only music nerds will appreciate them. However, this band’s ability to be downright catchy makes them an exception to that unwritten rule. There seems to be a style and a mood for every type of listener on this album ranging from the ethereal bliss that can be found on “Parakeet and Mermaid,” all the way to the aggressive stampedes of “Care” and everything in-between.
If you are looking for new music, no matter what your taste is, I would recommend Jr. Clooney’s debut EP to you. Even if you do not get into the music, you cannot help but recognize that these guys worked hard to create five songs that stand out from the average sound.
You can hear Jr. Clooney’s new EP on jrclooney.bandcamp.com.