JJAMZ sounds like a combination between jazz and jam but it is in fact a new LA super-group, whose intriguing moniker is just made of the initials of the first names of its members, who are all over the indie map: drummer Jason Boesel (Rilo Kiley, The Elected, Bright Eyes), guitarist James Valentine (Maroon 5), guitarist Alex Greenwald (Phantom Planet), bassist Michael Runion (solo artist), and vocalist Z Berg (lead singer and guitarist of The Like)…. It seems like the cream of indie music although I am not sure Maroon 5 would qualify for the term.
But apparently, they were all good friends with each other and decided to form this project as an escape from their different bands, and the result is extremely poppy especially because of singer Z Berg’s youthful voice -and although her vocals may be thin and sometimes buried in all these guitars-bass-drums loudness, but, last night, it was difficult to detach the eyes from her. They were playing at the Satellite, where they have a month residency every Monday night, and with such a hipster-all-star cast, it was not a surprise to see that they had attracted a large crowd. Their set was dynamic as they played songs from their upcoming and debut album with confidence.
With her short white dress, high heels and blond hair, Z Berg totally played a young Debbie Harry, taking provocative pauses, touching her hair, one hand on her hips, and just being plain sexy and quite convincing in her role of child-femme fatale.
The music was a sort of synthesis of many different things, there was a strong Strokes influence in ‘Cleverly Disguised’, one of the rare song when Debbie, err sorry, ‘Z’ (but I kept thinking about the Blondie girl the whole time) was sharing the vocal part with Michael Runion, but many of their songs had some kind of retro feeling, which was not going further than the 90s,… as a matter of fact they covered Britpop Elastica’s famous hit ‘Connection’, and it was fitting them so well.
The other songs were diverse but sounded sort of familiar with a few surprises, and from one strong woman to another one, from ‘Heart of Glass’ to ‘Heartbeat’,… there was an almost Madonna-esque feeling all over that song. ‘Never Enough’ or ‘Get What You Want' had lots of sing-along-inviting choruses, and overall, their hooks would have caught anyone at the first listening party.
All the songs were voice-driven, with an electronic feeling of the 80s-90s, and because of the immediate familiarity of the arrangements, I would not be surprised to hear one of their radio-ready tunes in a commercial for some hip-clothes store or at the next pool party….
They are signed to local Dangerbird Records, their debut album ‘Suicide Pact’ will be released July 10, and they are about to go on tour with Neon Trees during the summer. Meanwhile, they offer a free download of 'Heartbeat' on their website, where you can also check out their video for ‘Never Enough’, and I understand it may well be your anthem for the summer.
Get What You Want
Baby don’t cry