Jungol: Tiny Heaven

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By: Alex Borsody

The sweet sunny South is among other things, the birthplace of rock & roll. Atlanta is the cultural center and a symbol of Southern progress. Atlanta, and more recently Athens, Georgia, are where great Southern rock bands go to make a name for themselves, from the Allman Brothers Band to Sound Tribe Sector 9 to Perpetual Groove. Credit is due to a band known as Jungol for undertaking the great challenge of performing the entirety of Radiohead‘s OK Computer, which went off without a hitch this past October. The band is anchored by Twin brothers Josh and Graham Yoder, who have each played out in the area since the age of sixteen. Formerly known as Liquid Jungle, the name has changed but the songs remains the same, continuing as a dynamic force in the constantly evolving Southern music scene.

Tiny Heaven (self-released), Jungol’s first studio album, was released Spring 2007, and at the time of this writing the band is already in the studio recording a new five song EP, which is much different than Tiny Heaven, and, according to the band “a huge step beyond it” as well. The name Liquid Jungle is reminiscent of Liquid Sky, the pioneering NYC drum & bass and jungle music record label. Instead, what you get is a really good prog rock band with an urban appeal. Perhaps the drum & bass connection is the reason they dropped the “liquid” from their name.

The cover for Tiny Heaven by David Hale is one of the most beautiful pieces of album art I have seen in a while, reminiscent of an abstract, urban version of The Great Wave Off Kanagawa. Jungol is also an abstract blend of influences, defining themselves as progressive rock but inspired by funk. The style can be compared to a more monochromatic Mars Volta with some hints of U2. The sound is hard edged with loud instrumentals and softer pop vocals. The sound is characteristic of much of the indie and progressive rock popular today, appealing to urban hipster types with a penchant for vocal effects. Jungol has the mass appeal of the The Killers, with something of a radio friendly vibe, but in keeping with their artistic integrity.

Crunchy guitars feed the primal urge for distortion and occasionally funky bass, like on “Programmed,” keeps the music from becoming generic while adding variety to the album. Saxophones played by guitarist Zack Varner further mix things up on “Out Of The Dark,” the title track, which is the most creative cut on the album, with the sound of singing Himalayan yogis in the distance and cymbals crashing like waves make this a haunting and unique track.

Hot ‘Lanta, is constantly innovating and will always be the location for Southern musicians to follow their American Dream. Jungol taps into the heart of the current hipster craze. In the wake of bands like Radiohead, UNKLE and The Killers, a lot of bands are trying to bottle that same magic and Jungol has the potential of getting it just right.

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