Oyemi, Lemmy, and Chris make up the German trio Jaguwar. The band cranks out fairly impressive material that skirts the edges of the shoegaze-y and ethereal rock genres. At their best -- usually on the tracks where Oyemi takes over on vocals -- Jaguwar manage to produce material that seems like a fuzzier take on the Cranes template, or a less messy updating of Toenut stuff. When Lemmy sings, the band's tunes seem slightly more conventional, even as each Lemmy-fronted cut sounds suspiciously like a group trying very hard to sound like Pornography-era Cure, an admirable mission all the same. Still, all that being said, the band's debut full-length record, Ringthing, out Friday on Tapete Records, is an invigorating affair, and a record that nearly delivers as much as it promises.
"Lunatic" roars with a whole lot of punch right out of the gate, and the catchier "Skeleton Feet" blends bits of near-glam-rock like Placebo, or early Manics, with the roar of Isn't Anything-era My Bloody Valentine. The cut is immediately the sort of thing that's hard to dislodge from the brain, as is the more lyrical "Night Out". Elsewhere, "Gone" and "Crystal" sprawl a bit and unfurl with a whole lot of invention. If "Whales" is a little too close to the braying of Robert Smith on lesser, more current Cure records, for my liking, at least "Away" chimes impressively in the style of of early Ride singles, all noise and hooks churning with abandon.
The music of Jaguwar is not entirely an original proposition but the band has a lot of energy, and they manage to imbue these largely-familiar styles with a great deal of spark and verve. Along with Canada's Beliefs, Jaguwar are re-inventing the shoegaze template for a new century. That they seem less concerned with unleashing a pure sonic assault, or drafting feedback-drenched woozy rockers, and more invested in making big, melodic hooks out of noise, says a lot about their intentions as musicians. I look forward to hearing even more from this band in the future, but for now, I highly recommend what's here on Ringthing.
[Photo: Maks Pallas]