Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Album Review: Same Places by New Junk City

Same Places by New Junk City is an album I slept on for far too long! In my defence it was released while we were on holiday in Japan and life hasn't really stopped since we got home. I do really regret waiting so long to check it out though, it's definitely a contender for albums of the year. Not many albums have hooked me so quickly on my first listen. For those unaware, New Junk City are a four piece from Atlanta, Georgia. Since 2014 New Junk City have released one full length and a couple of splits, including one with Welsh punks Hot Mass. Now, enough intro - let's get on with explaining why I think Same Places, which was released by Real Ghost Records, is superb.

Same Places kicks off with Useless Friends. With its rumbling bass line and jangly guitar opening the song up before the vocals come crashing in, the song does a excellent job of grabbing your attention immediately and setting a precedent for the rest of the album. The vocals tread that fine line between gruff and poppy and fill each song with so much passion and energy. This punchy piece of punk rock gets you ready for a fine, fine album. The guitars in the intro of track two, High In The Morning, quickly get you bopping along before we go into a song about getting older and dealing with anxiety. It features one of the best choruses on the album – it's delivered in such a infectious, catchy way that it's impossible not to get swept away with it. The tempo of the whole song is spot on, it's quick which keeps the energy going but not so quick that we lose that delightful melody. Half Life starts off quietly and is a more purposeful song. Going at a slower pace than the previous two songs, Half Life features a lot of instrumentation with the vocals coming in short and sharp stages throughout the song. This really allows for some great building moments as well as showing off what a talented gang of musicians New Junk City are.

New Junk City released a beautifully shot video for the fourth song Stay Asleep. I can see why as Stay Asleep is a perfect song for newcomers to New Junk City to get a feel of what they're about. Passionate punk rock sing alongs. What more could anyone want in a song? The track is about not wanting something to end and putting off the inevitable for as long as possible. The use of gang vocals towards the end of the track is great, this is the moment I imagine a bar full of people really getting involved with the song. The fifth song, Losing Side, is a mammoth four minutes and forty-five seconds long (which is about a week in punk rock terms). It starts with a lengthy intro and has you awaiting vocals with a high anticipation. It's a mid-tempo track that again really shows off New Junk City's skills. There's a maturity about the song which shows that the band don't have to play with a quick tempo to fill a song with energy. The bass in particular really has you on the edge of your seat, adding some intensity to the song. Changing things up somewhat, Come Tomorrow has one of those intros where those vocalist dives straight in, wasting no time at all in getting the song started. The vocals on this track shine so brightly. I don't listen to many songs where I think this chaps a hell of a singer but I definitely did on Come Tomorrow.

The seventh song on Same Places is titled Coffee Mug. My first thought on seeing the song title was that could this be a wonderful Descendents cover – it's not. In fact it's a wonderful song that has a bit of a Gaslight Anthem/Dave Hause Americana punk feeling to it. Lyrically it feels very much like a story of feeling anxious around people and wanting to change for someone. There's a sublime building section with some great jangly guitars and a pounding drum roll before one final big chorus to complete the song. On the penultimate song, In Our Blood, New Junk City take things down a notch for an anthemic ballad type song. I have to admit I was a little surprised that the song never builds in tempo given how the rest of the album has gone and that this isn't the final song but my word this is a moving four minutes. I can only imagine this is a goosebump-creating song when it's played live. I would very much like to witness it. Same Places finishes with the track Nothing Waiting. It's quite a long song to conclude the album but New Junk City seem intent on packing as much into the song as possible. It never feels cluttered or like they've overstretched themselves though. They have managed to make the song feel like a big finale, finishing in a special way but have remaining New Junk City. Fantastic work.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Same Places from start to finish on the multiple times that I've listened to it now. It's one of those great albums that you can listen to over and over again and continue to find new favourite things. New Junk City are clearly a special band who I really expect to see making waves in the punk scene all over the world in the not so distant future. Check out the album and remember the name.

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This review was written by Colin Clark.

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