Friday, July 24, 2009

New and Notable: jj

Sporting a difficult-to-google name and shrouded in mystery, jj is still managing to make some waves around the 'Net with their low-impact electro-rock. Connected to Swedish label Sincerely Yours, jj has been the subject of some speculation regarding the artists behind the moniker (is it really Tough Alliance? - could be) though no official word has been written thus far - the creators apparently wanting the music to speak for itself. And that it does; the group's new album, jj n° 2, is brief (only 27 minutes long) but more than makes up it in engaging music ranging from club-ready, slow-dance jams ("Ecstasy") to acoustic ballads ("Are You Still In Vallda?") and everything in between in only nine tracks. The songs are consistently great, with especial attention to detail and a knack for pop hooks manifested in the shimmering beats and soothing female vocals.

Much of jj n° 2 has a kind of understated world music sound, like the two strong opening tracks, "Things Will Never Be the Same Again" and my favorite, "From Africa to Málaga," both featuring exotic synthetic percussion and subtle electronic layers behind angelic vocals sharing simple, but enjoyable, stories of romance and heartbreak. Throw in some acoustic guitar and soaring string arrangements and you have the recipe for a successful, attention-grabbing record that might even bring these people out of hiding eventually. Until then, anonymity is fine when the music is this excellent.

To get a preview, head over to Pitchfork to hear "Ecstasy"