Despite it’s name, Jupiter One is not a NASA space-mission to the large gas giant. It is, however, a New York indie rock band, its sci-fi epithet originating from a failed starship in the cult ’60s TV show Lost In Space. (So, no monkeys in astronaughtical gear or a cheesy silver-clad ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ in space here…)
But Jupiter One’s sci-fi affiliation is more than just a name. Their music seems almost ‘space-age’, with synths-a-plenty and planetary song titles like Moon Won’t Turn and Platform Moon.
In fact, the band – formed in 2003, and including K Ishibashi, his wife Mocha, guitarist Zac Colwell and drummer Dave Heilman – have a unique, refreshing sound, a sort of 21st century progressive pop/rock. They’ve mixed a firm – almost club – beat to electronica, (flare-tastic ’70s and parachute pant ’80s) synths, and a Killers contemporary guitar thwack. But for a group naming Sigur Ros, Yes, Talking Heads and Nick Drake amongst their influences, you’d expect nothing less.
The self-titled debut begins with Intro For Ani Enorda, a short instrumental. An opening track normally paints the album’s tone and genre, but that’s not the case here: Ani Enorda is completely removed from the subsequent tracks.
Therefore, properly kicking off the album is Countdown, or as K sings (rather aptly) “And so it begins…”. Infectiously catchy, the track opens with a strong drum beat and scratchy riff akin to Franz Ferdinand, building up to a psychedelic miasma.
Similar rockin’ tunes are Platform Moon – a great ’80s influenced track with digital-sounding voices, Turn Up The Radio – with Mocha’s violin weaving seamlessly with a strong beat, the ethereal Unglued, and Kamikaze Pilots, filled with ambient grooves.
To astute listeners (and especially thumb-jockey gamers), some of the songs might sound familiar. Countdown is featured on EA Sports Madden NFL ’08, Unglued on FIFA 08, Fire Away on Burnout Paradise, and Platform Moon on a Mazda TV commercial. (First the games console, next the world?)
Of course, the album isn’t perfect. There are some questionable lyrics, most notably; “I dug a hole to China, all for a vagina”. Also, listening to the digital-sounding voices, it’s hard for fans of the cult TV/radio Flight of the Conchords not to hear the song Robots.
But despite that, Jupiter One’s debut is well produced brilliance. And, with vintage, synth-tastic, crazed sounds, infused with an array of influences, they’ve breathed new life into the (stale) indie genre. Listen to this album.