The Milwaukee-based band Jaill has been around for 8 years, though chances are you’ve never heard of them until right now or at the very least earlier this year. They’re freshly signed to Sub Pop Records after years of paying their dues and making crappy bedroom recordings. What finally served as the foursome’s big break was their 2009 album “There’s No Sky (Oh My My)”, which they were particularly proud of and decided to promote as best they could. That meant getting copies out to bloggers and radio stations in addition to going on a national tour. The hard work paid off, as somebody at Sub Pop got a copy of the record and expressed interest in the band. Why did it take them several years to finally get signed? There seem to be a number of factors, from the exceptionally lo-fi (poor recording quality) of their earliest material to a band lineup that was constantly changing to general laziness when it came to self-promotion and touring. All the while they were in obscurity, Jaill had been building a more than solid catalogue of jangly guitar pop songs. Thanks to their Sub Pop debut “That’s How We Burn”, the band is out to prove they deserve every scrap of attention that’s come their way in the past year.
Jaill aren’t going to reinvent the wheel. They’re playing in a sandbox where so many have been before and are exploiting a sound that’s all too common among up-and-coming indie bands these days. It takes a special kind of band to break free from the pack and establish a solid following. With “That’s How We Burn”, Jaill may have done exactly that. As an introduction to the band and album, “The Stroller” has the band leading off with a muscular number that’s got a solid hook and a little bit of a psychedelic edge to it. Impressive as it may be, the next track “Everyone’s Hip” is pure guitar pop with a bouncy melody that gets even better if it’s sunny and warm outside while you listen to it. “Thank Us Later” has a sly surf rock edge to it and even recalls The Walkmen a little bit thanks to the guitar work, though Jaill singer Vinnie Kircher’s vocals sound nowhere near the lackadaisical wail of Hamilton Leithauser’s. Though it’s remarkably sparse with primarily an acoustic guitar and vocals, “Summer Mess” is one of the album’s highlights thanks to how it shakes things up stylistically. It’s one of the few moments on the record where bouncy electric guitars aren’t the norm, which can start to feel a little blended together after awhile. Still, the middle half of the album has a great streak of highlights from the early R.E.M.-like “She’s My Baby” and the positively rocking “Snake Shake” which at nearly 4 minutes long is the longest song on the album and also the most complicated – in a good way. There’s a distinct 60’s pop vibe about “Baby I”, which slows things down a half step before the pulse-racing excitement that “How’s the Grave” provides that’s reminiscent of a Pavement song on speed. Finally the title track ends the album on a typically bright and upbeat note with another solid jangly guitar melody. The whole thing is over and done within a mere 30 minutes, and though it does start to blend together for a bit on the second half, the speed at which it passes keeps it from really harming your overall impression of the record.
One listen to “That’s How We Burn” and you should be convinced that Jaill are a band that’s going places. All that time spent in obscurity has left them with enough time to hone their craft and come out swinging. Not every track quite hits with the force that’s needed to bring this band success on a massive level just yet, but there’s a whole lot of promise that makes it fully understandable as to why they were able to get a record deal with one of the best indie labels around. The hooks are dynamite, and lyrically Kircher is pretty brilliant in the way he blends the lighthearted music with words that are anything but. Perhaps if they shake up their sound a little and work harder to incorporate more bits from other genres then they’ll really start to make waves. A couple ballads wouldn’t hurt either, instead of charging straight through every song like a punk rock band on a mission. Whatever the solution, Jaill are definitely worth checking out in the here and now, as “That’s How We Burn” makes for yet another great album that’s ripe for soundtracking summer fun whether it’s hanging out with friends or simply driving around with all the windows down and a cool breeze in your hair.