The Junipers and Maryjo Mattea

The Junipers

The Junipers “Red Bouquet Fair”

Few bands understand the instrumental and melodic subtleties of late ‘60s baroque sunshine pop better than The Junipers. The band from Leicester, gives us their third album Red Bouquet Fair as it reminds the listener of Curt Boettcher, Harpers Bizarre and The Millennium. Opening with the light instrumental of the title track, then the piano lights up the ballad “Follow Loretta” and the gentle vocals of “Dig Me Up” include light psychedelic effects enhancing the catchy melody. This approach follows through on most of the music here, Mellotron, harmonies and spacey lyrics giving “Burning Pages” a dream-like soothing quality.

Some additional highlights include “Like A Merry Go Round” and the hushed harmonies of “Summer Queen” and “When the Bird Has Flown.” What is missing is the stronger guitar presence found on past albums. Still this is a highly recommended collection of music.


The Junipers

Maryjo Mattea “Four Minute Symphonies”

MaryJo is a musician who deals in folk, pop, rock and punk genres, but always with a melodic touch to her songwriting. With this EP the Four Minute Symphonies showcase her strong vocals and understated electric guitar accompaniment in the title track.

“Rocket Science” is an obvious single, with a hummable chorus and strong guitar solo in the break. “We Were Here” is a frantic ’90s pop theme that would work well in a sitcom’s credits. Mattea’s piano torch songs are impressive, if a bit overly dramatic. I prefer the bouncy “Wish I May” which falls in the power pop category with its hand claps and harmonies. Give it a chance on your play list.


Shake Some Action! and The Junipers

Shake Some Action! “Full Fathom Five”
More than previous efforts, James Hall has remained consistent in his love of guitar oriented power pop. He’s touched on the Manchester sound in Fire and Ice and the garage elements in Sunny Days Ahead.

Now with Full Fathom Five, James continues with his 60’s Brit pop style. The unmistakable Rickenbacker 12 string jangle greets us on the opener “Lost In Space.” Without missing a beat the magic continues on “Nothing Can Stop Me Now.” “Soul On Fire” is a fantastic single with its goose bump inducing chorus, rivaling Supergrass or Oasis (at their peak). Even the mid tempo “Lost Without You” has great big hook, and no filler anywhere. The Merseybeat ” I Didn’t Know What To Say” is so good, it sounds like a lost track from those Liverpool lads. It also varies its sound enough to prevent falling into a rut, making each of those 14 tracks fly by. More than other albums, the vocals are better and the songwriting is rock solid. It’s a retro treat and a definite contender for best album in 2013.

Bandcamp | Soul on Fire single only


The Junipers “Paint The Ground”
The Junipers are a psychedelic pop group with a new line up following 2008’s Cut Your Key. Paint The Ground is one of the best sunshine folk pop LPs ever with sweet harmonies and shimmering guitars similar to Curt Boettcher and Millennium. “Willow and The Water Mill” is a song that paints a vivid picture of a summer day in the country.

The gentle “Phoebus Filled The Town” is a heartbreaking melody with a prog-folk sound that will remind many of Steve Hackett era Genesis.  Each song seamlessly blends into a perfect tapestry of mood, as in “Antler Season,” the ethereal chorus rides along an acoustic melody. The only issue is that these songs tend to be indistinguishable from each other. Using a full load of instruments from Mellotrons to Zithers, it perfectly evokes the sunshine pop era without blatantly ripping it off – a true musical treasure.