What is it about those Pacific Northwesterners and their incessant need to create amazing music? Do they just have a better handle on the rock sound? Do they just do a better job of recording that garage-band sound crisp and ripe for records across the globe? Apparently so because J. Graves, a band out of Portland, Oregon, follows up their single “New Favourite” from the soon-to-be-released album, Marathon (out September 2019), with the rich in tone and heavy-in guitar, “Chapters.”
Presumedly a love song about moving on and finding the strength to confront one’s fears, “Chapters” immediately pushes the listener into an array of guitar riffs and female-led angst. While not all the lyrics are recognizable – Jessa Graves (lead vocalist) is incredible, but her delivery is so passionate and resolute, not all the words are easily distinguishable. It’s certainly not a distraction and I think that mystery adds to some of the flavor and rock credo to this track. “Chapters” alienates no one in its idea that we’ve all been hurt at some point in our lives and while that love dies, the heart and the chance to love again doesn’t give up. Next chapter, please. Grave’s vocals seem to both comfort the listener and rile up the emotions – she seemingly grabs the listener and shakes them into realization to get over this, dammit.
The band – a three-piece—is also comprised of Aaron MacDonald and Barrett Stolte. They have this unique way of brushing wide strokes of guitar riffs and ageless bass waves into a tight percussion. Uh, duh, like a band that has been bringing it! Seriously, though, the sound they recorded is sharp, but not too sharp where the listener feels like it’s pop. This track is solid punk. It has the Nirvana, Hole, Gang of Four stamp. And, according to the band’s EPK, Graves herself notes PJ Harvey (“The Crowded Cell,” “Down By The Water”) as influence. It’s evident in “Chapters” that Harvey’s remarkable career proved to be a tipping point for Graves.
Supposing Marathon has a similar vibe and tightness like in “Chapters” there’s no doubt (hey, that’s a band!), that J. Graves is on its way to be a killer band ready to take on the world. They don’t sound like a “one and done” type of band, either. I’d be super curious to see this band live and see for myself if the passion and overall artistic high could and can be achieved by Jessa Graves on stage. She’s successfully managed to do that in the recording studio and judging by the energy they percolate from a low-fi MacBook Pro speaker, it would be a daunting and thrilling experience to hear “Chapters” in the flesh. It almost fills silly and yet repulsive to think of these puny speakers breathing life into a song like “Chapters” but alas, the moment arrived, and J. Graves won the battle.
The Pacific Northwest – the land that gave way to Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Soundgarden, the Decembrists, She & Him and even the Kingsmen, have a new boast: J. Graves.
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