Juno – This is the Way it Goes and Goes and Goes

Juno
This is the Way it Goes and Goes and Goes

Let me just start this review by saying that lately I have been impressed with just about everything Desoto Records has put out. Between this record, the Burning Airlines album, and the new Dismemberment Plan album (if you don’t have that album, stop reading, turn off your computer and go buy it), this label can’t seem to go wrong. Not only is the recording quality excellent on these albums but the packing is insanely cool (oh yeah, and the bands are amazing). Now on to the review.
Juno is band from the Pacific northwest (notably the Seattle area) that formed way the hell back in 1995. Through reading an interview with this band (“Punk Planet,” issue #35, January/February 2000) I discovered that the release of this album was delayed both by the band’s frustrating search for a label (prior to recording this they had released singles on two similarly excellent labels, Sub Pop and Jade Tree [and from what I have heard of them the singles are excellent as well]), and lead singer Arlie Carsten’s snowboarding accident that led to a broken neck (Arlie is apparently a professional snowboarder). Fortunately Arlie and friends have rebounded to record an excellent debut album.
The album opens with the bafflingly titled “The Great Salt Lake/Into the Lavender Crevices of Evening the Otters Have Been Pushed.” The track begins with three plinking guitars leading to softly spoken lyrics (which, by the way, are excellent). The song (except for the lyrical content) would not be out of place on Slint’s “Spiderland” (remember that album?). The very next track is far more abrasive, with a punk rock sound that carries hints of the old Dischord bands as well as Jawbox. The most melodic song on the album is likely “All Your Friends Are Comedians” which finds Arlie shouting over churning guitars and a booming rhythm section. Though I would never call this band “emo,” the tone in Arlie’s voice in “The Young Influentials” is far more powerful than most emo bands.
The rock on this album is very prominent. The three guitars grind and gurgle and spatter through the nine tracks with varied results. “Leave a Clean Camp and a Dead Fire” is a swirling, blurred guitar epic that nears ten minutes in length and is only slightly less interesting than bands who do that sort of track for albums at a time (Mogwai and Japancakes). The band mixes up the formula a bit on “A Listening Ear” calling on “the enchanting Jen Wood” to contribute a female vocal. The variety is nice, though despite the track’s good intentions it is one of the weaker tracks on the album. I’m nitpicking though. Even this album’s weaker tracks are substantially more interesting than the majority of indie rock. The three guitars provide a change from the norm, and the band uses them with great effect. Juno is a band that can be quiet, loud, churning or plinking, and they can sometimes accomplish those things in the course of a single song. They draw their influences from all the right places (most notably Slint, Fugazi and Jawbox), combining styles and sounds into a concise, enjoyable, and slightly moving record. This is not the most original music ever (though Juno is still far more creative than most bands), but this is only their first album. Remember how much the Dismemberment Plan evolved? Juno has that same potential.
“This Is the Way it Goes and Goes and Goes” is good, though not outstanding record, offering a variety of sounds and styles. Buy this album though, and keep a close watch on this band so that a couple of years down you can brag to your friends about how you discovered Juno before they did.