Some of rock’s best bands are a three-piece: The Police, Nirvana, Green Day, Muse, Rush, Beastie Boys – they have perfected the tightness and at the same time, they never over-produce. The sound is solid and there’s no need to add in a bunch of other flavorings when it’s already perfection. One up-and-coming band that also has three core members is J. Graves. Led by singer/songwriter Jenna Graves, guitarist Aaron MacDonald and drummer Barret Stolte. Their new single, “Chapters” delivers a resounding fist in the air for listener’s wanting killer music – or in their words “sweet and agonizing garage rock.”
Agonizing – that word had me perplexed before I listened to “Chapters.” I thought at first, they meant like, “agonizing” as in the sounds and crushing drums wash over the listener, leaving with a feeling of despair. But once I started listening the words – the way Jenna Graves sings “I hope you get what you wanted” it’s evident that Graves’ gets the feeling of pure agony and heartbreak. Without a full knowledge of the backstory “Chapters” give the listener a sense of courage and mesmerizing riffs to engulf those sad emotions and rock them out of your body, out of your head. True, it’s not a head-banger, but it’s a track that makes you move and get out of your seat. At the very least, the song makes you track your own demons and reflect upon past relationships. So, yeah, that is an agonizing, cathartic experience.
The “sweet” – well, maybe that means the hopeful guitar riffs and bulging bass tones. The guitar riffs just bite and take hold but create a bit of a prickly melody (at first!). But as the song moves along, the guitar meanders its way into a lighter, easier-to-breathe sound.
J. Graves – who hail from Portland, Oregon, possess that veil of sadness and rain-soaked rock only found on the West Coast. It’s like a sound of Pearl Jam and Nirvana meshed with Hole and Jenna Graves’ influence, PJ Harvey. Perhaps the brilliance to “Chapters” is that it takes all of these garage-rock, punk flavors and emboldens the listener to channel that angst within a female-fronted band. Regardless if she identified as female or not, “Chapters” is a truly remarkable song. It really grabs the listener. It showcases a band that holds a lot of talent in its arsenal. I only wish I could discern a few more of the words in the lyrics, but nonetheless, the sound and the power of this song is clearly evident.
“Chapters” is the second single from J. Graves’ September release, Marathon. The band has already released the memorable “Your Favourite” (this past May) and presumably will have a tour to back up its growing catalog. Jenna Graves’ charismatic delivery and fronting this band is part of the “Chapters” success, in my opinion, but again, the musicianship and overall vibe of “Chapters” is precisely what makes indie bands so enjoyable to discover. In a crowded mess of YouTubers, Instagram stars and Spotify lists, J. Graves’ “Chapters” is the real deal.