Jupiter One: Sunshower

RIYL: The Silver Seas, The Shins, The Feeling

Not to be confused with Jupiter Rising, the California duo who received a rather harsh, but fair, beatdown from our own Jason Thompson in 2006, this New York indie pop quartet brings the hooks by the truckload on their sophomore effort Sunshower. The heart of a late ’70s pop band beats at their core – check the cymbal ride, handclaps, and Moog solo in the super-cool “Simple Stones” – but they’re not hiding behind a gimmick. They’re like an American version of the Feeling, comfortable in the present but having more in common with rock bands of the past. “Flaming Arrow” would have fit perfectly on the Silver Seas’ album High Society (itself a brilliant modern-day slice of AM radio heaven), while the power popstastic “Anna” sounds like a lost song from an ’80s soundtrack (starring John Cusack, of course), and “Lights Go Out” recalls a more restrained Foo Fighters.

What this means is that Sunshower will be adored by soundtrack supervisors around the world, but will need a “Garden State” moment in order to break the band into the mainstream. This isn’t right or fair, but this is the music business we’re talking about; half the bands that sell millions don’t deserve it, and vice versa. Sunshower is one of the vice versas. (Rykodisc 2009)

Jupiter One MySpace page


Ume: Sunshower EP

Ume (pronounced…I have no clue) (Editor’s note: it’s pronounced Ooh-may) is an Austin-based alt-rock trio led by the impressive, alliteratively-named Lauren Langner Larson. She’s not full-on riot-grrl, but Larson has an edge to her voice, with a growling undertone constantly on the threat of bubbling over and taking control throughout their latest EP Sunshower. Her screams on the opening “East of Hercules” have echoes of Brody from the Distillers and Joan Jett; throaty, guttural and utterly powerful. What really makes her, and by extension Ume as a whole, stand out is Larson’s ability to go back and forth between her punk-rock growls and a more dominant melodic singing voice that wouldn’t be out of place on a Top 40 pop record. The music behind the bipolar vocals isn’t half bad either, and is equally manic in a Pixies loud-quiet-loud kind of way, but they do the loud parts better than the quiet ones. When they keep it mellow too long they suffer, and the full-on ballad title track sinks before it takes off because there’s no power or emotion to carry it. The other slow track on the album, “The Means,” works better because the restrained first half builds to an explosive second half where Larson is once again able to showcase her quality vocal chops. Ume released a full-length record back in 2005, and this far-too-short EP is evidence that they’re ready for another. (Hulga 2009)

Ume MySpace Page