Junior High

  • Junior High
  • ex-best friend (Rocketship) 1997 

This young Chicago quartet (whose bassist and singer, Bran Harvey, died of cancer in May 2020) must have been a great live band. On their lone CD, they distill the rangy guitar energy of Minneapolis’s indie rock titans — the Magnolias, Soul Asylum, Replacements and Hüsker Dü — into a joyful whoosh of stage-ready rock excitement. The familiar slacker subjects (“Stumble,” “Piss Away the Day,” “Whiskey Spin”) benefit from melodic strength, clever musical ideas, passion in the raw vocals and just enough tightness in the playing to achieve full impact before allowing fussiness to fuck it up. A few surprising touches, like the Mark E. Smith inflections of “Fragile” and the squiggly noises of “Vapor Girl,” add to the sense that this Junior High was something pretty special.

[Ira Robbins]