Jupiter Sunrise -
Under A Killer Blue Sky
by Chris Stum
Pop rock comes to us in many forms. One
could consider acts such as Maroon 5 and Ryan Cabrera as the pop in pop
rock. Bands such as Fountains Of Wayne, Simple Plan, and even The Cars
define the rock in pop rock. Jupiter Sunrise fits into a rock pop category
with enough twists and turns to make you feel lost in an empty parking
lot while at the same time enjoying every moment of it.
The Jupiter Sunrise story started in Albany,
New York about two years ago with singer/songwriter Mark Houlihan deciding
he needed a change in scenery. Houlihan picked up and moved to sunny California
where he teamed up with Ben Karis (Guitar/Vocals), Chris Snykus (Drums),
and Aaron Case (Bass/Vocals). The team quickly started writing and putting
the finishing touches on songs that Houlihan had previously written. The
result is the bands debut effort titled "Under A Killer Blue Sky" (Undecided/Victory).
The album rounds up pop sensibilities, gritty guitars, songs about girls,
rolls them all up into one, throws them in a blender and pours it out.
I remember the first time I heard the song "Kaye." I came across the video
for the song while surfing the web. I thought "What a great song, cool
video too." I can now officially add "cool album" to that list.
"Under A Killer Blue Sky" starts out running
on all eight cylinders with a clever tune called "Arthur Nix." With loud
guitars, great rhythm changes and cunning lyrics, "Arthur Nix" should be
the template for all pop rock songs to come. Follow that up with the song
"Kaye" and you have a killer start to any album.
"Cherry Wine" initially slows the pace
down but picks it up in the chorus with Weezer influenced harmonies, and
strong guitar lines. Another song about a girl, "Casey" could be the next
arena rock sing along offering memorable melodies and lyrics with the line;
"Casey, hold my hand again."
The album continues on with "Josieís House"
and "Master Suzuki" both songs telling stories while infusing just enough
bubble gum pop and rhythmic turnarounds to keep any listener interested.
Add some keyboards in "Master Suzuki" along with the dreamy backups in
"Suddenly," and you have a band which has just shown that they know much
more about song writing then banging out a bunch of guitar chords and tongue
in cheek lyrics. No cheese here folks, just a keen selection and sense
of great songs.
A trap many bands fall into with this style
of music is a surplus of songs which end up sounding redundant and polluting
an otherwise good album. You could say that "Under A Killer Blue Sky" is
all killer and no filler. The album closes out with a collection of songs
that offer up great music, lyrics that continue to be fun to listen to
and easy to relate.
Although the album may be front loaded
with some of the bands best work, itís clear that the last half of the
album goes off in a little bit of a different direction to avoid an excess
of rehashed ideas. In "September Girl" the band once again displays Weezer
type vocal harmonies but mix things up with a droning, delay drenched guitar
solo all while maintaining a Mazzy Star meets Midtown vibe to the song.
The longest song on the album is entitled "Steal Me," a slow, swing type
ballad that introduces soft drumming, acoustic guitar and U2 like guitar
In a day when pop rock today is once again
starting to sound overproduced, over thought, and becoming way overpaid,
the Jupiter Sunrise does not subscribe to any of these theories. Itís nice
to see a band be able to write songs about who they are while not committing
to sound like the "Flavor Of The Week" and having a great time doing it.
If youíre looking for an album which is reinvents the word fun, look no
further, "Under A Killer Blue Sky" is just for you.
Sunrise - Under A Killer Blue Sky
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