Junip, Fields (Mute Corporation, 2010)

A Swede of Argentine descent, singer/guitarist José González has developed a respectable following in folk and alternative circles in recent years both as a solo artist and as a contributing singer to the group Zero 7. However, he had previously released an EP in Sweden as part of a band called Junip, with a pair of long-time friends Tobias Winterkorn (keyboards) and Elias Araya (drums). Junip recently re-united after a five-year hiatus, and their new album Fields is their first full-length release.

While González' characteristically dry vocals are unmistakeable, the backing of Winterkorn and Araya gives Junip a very different sound than people familiar with González' solo album In Our Nature might expect. Winterkorn's proficiency on electric piano, Moog, and organ are heavily influenced by the progressive rock of bands like Yes and Pink Floyd, and Araya's solid but steady percussion give the songs a good energy. Fields winds up having a considerably edgier overall sound than In Our Nature had. This may not please every José González fan, but I found it to be a refreshing change of pace.

Fields starts out particularly well, with two excellent tracks in "In Every Direction" and the single "Always." While these are the best two songs, the rest of the album is at least decent. "Rope & Summit" comes across as space-age jazz, and Araya's insistent drumming on "It's Alright" really enhances González' finger-picking. "Howl" and "Off Pont" have a driving rhythm that would have been out of place on In Our Nature, yet fit nicely here.

I already knew that José González was a promising upcoming artist, but I guess I can count Junip as a promising band as well. People who liked In Our Nature will definitely want to check Fields out, although I don't think Junip and José González' solo work will appeal to exactly the same audience.

Overall grade: B+

reviewed by Scott

An in-studio performance of "Rope and Summit"

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