Jucifer, If Thine Enemy Hunger

Jucifer, If Thine Enemy Hunger

Since the invention of recorded music, engineers have struggled with the challenge of hearing the sound of a band playing in a room and replicating it using only small paper cones. No artist exemplifies this challenge better than Athens duo Jucifer. With a wall of amplifiers ten feet high and twenty feet across, guitarist Amber Valentine produces so much sound that audience members can feel their clothing vibrate. It’s an experience that is extra-musical, almost extra-sonic, and obviously impossible to duplicate at home, unless your boombox is the size of a barn. And so, on CD, Jucifer has to rely on something besides punishing volume to make their point.

On If Thine Enemy Hunger, it turns out that their reliance is on Valentine’s voice, an unexpected but not unwelcome decision from an act whose vocals are often inaudible live. And if that decision distinguishes Jucifer records from Jucifer concerts, it does the same from records by other bands: Hunger borrows heavily — pun intended — from the bluesy mid-tempo metal of the Melvins, but with good singing in place of the Melvins’ effortless badassness.

The middle section of the record displays this well. As drummer Edgar Livengood shows off his Stewart Copeland impression on “Hennin Hardine,” Valentine purrs and warbles fetchingly. “Antietam,” meanwhile, finds Jucifer playing stripped-down Sonic Youth, but where Kim Gordon’s voice breaks into a roar or snarl, Valentine’s becomes a terrified wail, almost like an adolescent girl, which is all the more disturbing for its vulnerability. Most unexpected, though, is the stomping rock of “Lucky Ones Burn” and “Pontius of Palia,” on which Valentine’s crisp self-harmonization recalls the mid-’90s alternarock of Elastica or Veruca Salt, albeit rawer and heavier. In an odd coincidence, as Elastica was rightly accused of stealing a riff from Wire’s “Three Girl Rhumba” for their hit “Connection,” Hunger‘s thirteenth track, “In a Family Way,” shares its opening chords with “Low” by fellow Athenians R.E.M., who counted among their chief influences: Wire.

(Relapse Records -- P.O. Box 2060, Upper Darby, PA. 19082; http://www.relapse.com/; Jucifer -- http://www.jucifer.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Tuesday, November 14th, 2006. Filed under Reviews.

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