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Friday, February 27, 2015

Junta - Junta EP

Name: Junta
Album: Junta EP
Year: 1984
Style: Alternative, Post-Modern, Art Rock, Experimental, Post-Punk
Similar Bands: Violent Femmes, XTC, Talking Heads, Wire, Gang of Four, Jonathan Richman, Residents
One Word Review: Organic, Ritualistic Beatnik Spasms
Based Out Of: West Chester, Ohio
Label: Day One Records
 Junta - Cover & 45 Side
Junta - Back & 33 Side
Junta (1984)

  1. Zaire 4:57
  2. Another Horse Story 4:58 /
  3. Waldo 3:59
  4. Roman Blood 5:38
  5. Tar & Soil (live) 4:32

Album Rating (1-10): 8.0

Members & Other Bands:
Jay McCubbin - Bass (Wolverton Brothers)
Bill Stuart - Guitars (Wolverton Brothers)
Paul Stewart - Bass, Lap Steel, (Jesus Boy vox at 10 y/o) (Redmath)
Jerry Hunter - Percussion (Steve Eaves)
Gary Shell - Producer, Engineer
Wayne Hartman - Engineer
Skip Williams - Added Percussion Live Track
Luther Wright - Added Percussion Live Track
K. Alvin Combs - Cover Art
Ken Allan - Photos
Tracey Kameru - Photos
Hathaway - Photos
Burkhart - Photos

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band. And I admit, I was not so inclined to pick up the record based on the artwork or  design. It looks like the work of a trying-too-hard weird experimental band with lots of sounds, but not much melody. But I was persuaded to buy it for a dollar when I saw that each side was at a different speed. I liked that eccentricity, so for 5 songs, I figured it would not be too bad.

Album Review: Not much is out there about this Ohio band. The name describes a power/group taking control of a government by force. They have been called a new wave band, an experimental art band, and a global dance rock band. Two of the guys in the band adopted the stage-last-name of Wolverton, and are in the more popular Wolverton Brothers, still an active band. While all of the elements together would make me think this is an awesome band, the finished product falls flat for an undefined reason. Lots of potential, but it is just needs a little more direction.

“Zaire” fades in with a chugging, organic wood block and guitar lick. Dark bass supports, creating a topsy-turvy atmosphere. Jangle, Violent Femmes style guitar begins, and a Gang of Four, monotone droning vocal mechanically over the calculated backing track. There are a lot of time changes in the song, making it similar to some of the complexities in XTC or the percussiveness of the Talking Heads. The vocals take on some chants and spastic spitting yowls, like Andy Partridge was famous for early on. The song continues to drive the entire time. It is an odd blend of earthy and cold production intermixing and existing at the same time.
“Another Horse Story” features some haunting, synthetic coyote howls. A disjointed bouncy bass line parallels some rattling, jangely guitars. The dark, monotone vocals pick up a down ward melody in short segments that reminds of Jonathan Richman. It is beatniky, and sparse, and features some extra synth effects and overall, boils down some Talking Heads elements into basics and just repeats them to where they feel like there is no jittery end in sight, and it ends abruptly.

“Waldo” has a shaky, skatty drum that is all over the place, but carries a distinct urgency. A vibrating bass line adds to the mystery, as well as gentle synth hum. Off key organ notes drop out of the keyboard, and the up and down bass line moves the song along. Layered dark, chanting vocals sprawl over the music, which has intensified with an individual note plucked guitar hook. The chanting of Waldo feels like they are doing a ritual sacrifice to some ram headed god.
“Roman Blood” is introduced with a child’s voice. Probably a sample, singing “Jesus don’t forget me.” The conga drum is alive in the background, and a smoky jazzy trumpet creates an improv, interactive poetry slam vibe. The horn echos, offering a weird and off-putting-on-purpose vibe. The pace picks up, and the disorienting atmosphere they have created kicks the listener off spinning. The vocals turn to a call and response tactic, very theatrical, which brings back a manageable melody. But this too has skittering cockroach percussion in the background, creating a very nervous and tense feeling. The song ends with an intense repetitive shout chanting, which turns from mostly unintelligible to muttering sounds. And with a heavy breath, the whole song just gives out.
“Tar & Soil (live)” illustrates what their live show must have been like. It starts out sounding like the Residents with the weird effect in the background, and a little Mr. Bungle with the rapidly played guitar. The vocals are chanty, but have a softer edge. The guitar calms down a little and it takes on a Talking Heads style, but I imagine the live performance was a multi-media experience. The bass is mixed down, and is not as huge of a force as the rest of the album.

Stand Out Track: Zaire

Links:
Discogs
Spin Mag 9/85
City Beat Wolverton Bros Article
Sonic Bids Wolverton Bros
Terminal Boredom short description

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