Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It was the morning after they opened for Naughty By Nature, here in Rock Island. The weather outside the studio was more than brisk. It was arctic cold, really quite brutal, but the live room was already draped in a strong, warm smell of trailed in smoke. Milwaukee band Jaill was appropriately warming up the room for Treach and Vin Rock and everything fit into their musical offerings - sharpened social observations, astute self-analysis and high-minded nuggets of inter-personal messiness. The band's Sub Pop debut - "That's How We Burn" - is an exquisite album of songs that boil down a few people, a few reoccurring people into idiosyncratic slices. They are depictions of the micro angles from which the characters start in on their circumstances and surroundings, all of the things that annoy, flatter, amuse, disturb, and subdue them. It's a panoply of instances of people getting weirded out by the hipness they see in everyone around them, as well as countless examples that it's worrying just for worrying's sake. Almost unanimously, there's a consensus in every song that, "This is just the way things are. I'm this way and you're that way. I'm not sure why we either like or dislike each other. It is just this way. I'm through thinking about it for now. Who's got a light?"
Lead singer Vincent Kircher, bassist Andrew Harris and drummer Austin Dutmer seem to have a way of letting it all go up in a cloud of weed smoke, even when they find the study of such movements and actions so hypnotic and so oddly fulfilling, as if by deconstructing all of their scenes, they might someday learn something or find the hidden room where the secrets are kept. We hear in Kircher's words that there's a sense of mystery to the way that things unravel and to the way that two people get along. There are many instances on the album, detailing the scary or almost perverse effect that one person has on another. It's as if they're dealing with so many powers out of their control. It's beyond them why any of it's happening, but what's the good in really cracking the code. There are findings of incompatibility, of treating another with distance and safety, when needed, and affection and warmth when it's called for. There are all kinds of problems in the relationships held within the confines of this album, but they still seem to be stable - full of passion and caring and altogether healthy, almost what all good unions should be made up of. We should never figure ourselves or the people we love completely out, nor should we ever really start to make any progress in that direction. We should remain confused, but ultimately happy and we hear that in the wonderful dysfunction found on "She's My Baby," when Kircher sings, "She said I'm so hurt and my insides, they are too dark/And my cold eyes make me circle like a shark…/I like the angry way that she pumps my blood/She had prescriptions for a killer, called it pain/And I was tamer and combed the snarls out of her mane/And for the moment we sedated our complaints." A kiss is like a "howl from the attic to say goodnight." These are people and yet they're smoke.
Jaill Official Site
Sub Pop Records