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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Jaill Releases a Second Sub Pop Album, Goes Bowling

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In 2009, the Milwaukee garage-pop band Jaill was plucked from obscurity and signed to Sub Pop Records. That's the narrative, at least—a simplified and romanticized version of the story that downplays the band's role in their signing. In truth the band, while plenty obscure, had been toiling for years behind the scenes, sending out demos in hopes of finding a label. When a Sub Pop A&R rep purchased a copy of their self-released 2009 album There's No Sky (Oh My My), the band stayed in contact with him, forging a connection with the label. There was some luck at play, to be sure, but mostly Jaill's deal came about because the band saw an opening and seized it.

For their Sub Pop debut, Jaill released one of the great grill-out albums of 2010, That's How We Burn, a jaunty set of revved-up guitar-pop songs that took cues from the summeriest psychedelic songs of the '60s and the scrappiest '80s New Wave tunes. Though the band's new follow-up for Sub Pop, Traps, is also being released during the outdoor months and is similarly catchy, it's a significantly more wistful album.

"On the last album, there were some songs that I wrote when I was physically somewhere warm, or on a beach," explains singer-guitarist Vinnie Kircher. "This one, though, seemed more to come from sitting in a smoky kitchen, and sitting in the basement. Sometimes when you're in a place that's so familiar, your mind starts to go back to old memories and mindsets."

On Traps, the persistent, if sometimes sardonic, cheeriness in Kircher's lyrics has been replaced by an unconcealed bitterness as he sings of failed romance, missed opportunities and childhood disappointments. Where That's How We Burn's second track was the jangly ditty "Everyone's Hip," Traps gives its second track to the stomping, far thornier "Everyone's a Bitch." "Everyone's a bitch tonight," Kircher sings. "I must admit that I'm feeling like I want to die / It'd be all right."

"There are some things on this album that would probably be embarrassing if you said them while talking to people in real life," Kircher says. "I mean, there's nothing that seems too offensive, or anything that would make people think, 'Oh, my god, I can't believe he would say that.' But I think there's more of an awareness of the cons of one's own personality. I was trying to get more to the root of what a person experiences as they're growing up."

Nobody would mistake Jaill as perfectionists, but they took their time recording Traps, tracking it themselves over six or seven months, demoing songs only to scrap them, revisiting others and tweaking them. "It was more of a trial-and-error process this time around," Kircher says. "We just took it one step at a time, trying to find the perfect sounds."

Nicolas Vernhes of Brooklyn's Rare Book Room, who mixed several Deerhunter releases the band admired, gave the songs a final mix that cleaned up some of the rough edges. The result is a more intricate album than That's How We Burn.

"I feel like it's a bit more layered," Kircher says. "There's a little more to get lost in this time, and a little more attention to song structures. Where the last album had an almost live feel, this one isn't as fast-paced or urgent. It's more mid-tempo, so there's more to listen for."

With the record completed, Jaill will return to the road this summer. They'll do a short tour with King Tuff in July, after playing several shows around the state this month, including a Friday, June 29, performance at Summerfest's Rock Stage opening for The Hives and an album release party this Friday at Bay View Bowl.

"None of us are big bowlers—we all probably bowl around 100," Kircher says. "But we wanted to have the release show someplace where it could be an actual party, so Bay View Bowl should be perfect. It'll be like having our release show in a large rec-room basement."

Jaill's album release party at Bay View Bowl begins at 9 p.m. on Friday, June 8. Football opens.
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