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November 30, 2016

Jupiter One shoots for the moons with their second album, ‘Sunshower’

First an electronic bubble sounds like it is about to pop, followed by a splash of the noise an Atari video game would make. All before upbeat, prophet-like voices sing a pre-verse hum.

When an album starts like this, what need is there for the skip button?

“Volcano” rips the roof off of what a rock song is supposed to sound like. The opening song on Jupiter One’s sophomore album is destined to be a theme tune somewhere. And “Sunshower” does not end there.

Two years ago, the band put out its debut full-length, featuring the recognizable song “Countdown.” That single was heard on shows such as NBC’s “Heroes” and ABC Family’s “Kyle XY,” as well as EA Games’ “Madden ‘08.” The album was released by Cordless Records.

Jupiter One, who takes their name from the spaceship in the original TV series “Lost In Space,” was formed in 2003 by violinist K Ishibashi and guitarist Zac Caldwell. Soon after, Ishibashi’s wife joined the group as full-time keyboardist, along with drummer Dave Heilman and bassist Pat Dougherty.

The Brooklyn, N.Y band is currently on tour opening for Regina Spektor, whose hit “Fidelity” reached the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

This September, the band released their second effort, “Sunshower,” on the label Rykodisc – a label that also represents Junior Senior and Freezepop.

“Lights Go Out,” the follow-up to “Volcano,” powerfully jumps into action instantly, with a slightly distorted guitar riff and Nirvana-esque bass. “A white flash splits the sky in two and my heart beat louder than the thunder when I think of you,” Ishibashi sings.

With a Shins-like feel and a knack for sounds that practically force a listener to move in their seat, Jupiter One has created an album full of rock sensibility with a heart of indie gold.

One such seat-beat is “Simple Stones.” The song captures leading bass and claps as drums in a jazzy verse, followed by a downbeat chorus that begs your body to move. “I could build a fortress with simple stones, right here next to you.”

Church bell rings once, guitar strums ligh, and “I kiss your hand in the graveyard, I laid you down in the grass below.” The lengthily-titled “High Plains Drifter Finds the Oracle at Delphi” is a journey of a song, about the beauty of exclusive love between two people. The one-line chorus – “No one knows but us” – needs no extra cushion, because it is the singer describing how he’s “been loving things I’ve loved before.”

Other similarly catchy tunes on the record include acoustic “Flaming Arrow,” cautionary “Anna” and upbeat upstart “Come On.”

As described by Heilman after an October show at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, the album’s name and cover come from a Japanese proverb. The proverb describes two foxes meeting in the middle of a sun shower, the phenomena of rain during sunshine. This sight is captured on the album’s cover. In the proverb, the foxes get married – a scene shown inside the album booklet.

Variety splatters the album. The group utilizes talent on violin, flute and keyboards to mix things up. Also, Caldwell and Ishibashi share songwriting duties for the band.

Ishibashi’s scribing finishes the album with a poem of sorts. “People in the Mountain, People of The Ocean” disregards choruses to bring a straight poem to the record, almost as an antithesis to the crushing album opener, “Volcano.” “All I’d wanted was some time alone with my heart here for you and for me but it was only a state of mind, you see, and the people of the ocean, singing…”

And following that – if you set the stereo to repeat – you’re about to hear an electronic bubble popping.

Daniel Herberholz can be reached at danielherberholz@gmail.com.

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