Junip is More Than Just a Backing Band for José Gonzalez
Swedish/Argentinean singer-songwriter José Gonzalez has been wooing young women for a few years now with his smooth voice and Spanish-influenced acoustic guitar picking. His covers of the Knife, Massive Attack and Joy Division, as well as his debut album Veneer, put him on the American and British musical map in 2005. Since then he’s released some more EPs and another full-length, In Or Nature.
This year he and his bandmates (Tobias Winterkorn and Elias Araya) decided to reform Junip, a band whose sole output until now was an EP in 2005 called Black Refuge. The band was put on hiatus when Gonzalez’s solo career took off. They released the Rope and Summit EP at the end of May as a free download on their website. This is a precursor to a full length album due in September. The EP, which garnered an 8.0 from Pitchfork, is a beautiful collection of haunting and evocative songs. The band does much more than simply amplify Gonzalez’s sound and style; they add a rhythm and beat that uplifts and enlivens Gonzalez’s lyrics and guitar work with mesmerizing bass and drum lines.
Junip played two New York-area shows, June 9 at Music Hall of Williamsburg and June 10 at Bowery Ballroom. At the Bowery show, fellow Swede Hanne Hukkelberg opened the show with her quietly lovely songs.
When Junip took the stage it was clear there would be an increase in volume and it was most welcome. The group stuck to their own material (none of Gonzalez’s solo material was played), which was brave considering their released material only consists of two EPs. They played many songs that will be on the upcoming album and they certainly did a good job of exciting the crowd for that release. The four songs from the recently released Rope and Summit EP were of course well received, and translated well to the stage. All in all, a great preview for the newly reformed band.