J. Graves

Independent release, 2019

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


While this is the first full album from front woman Jessa Graves, the guitarist and vocalist has made great sounds previously in HelloKopter. This time around, though, she's joined by Barret Stolte on bass while Aaron MacDonald holds down drums. As J. Graves, they create a fascinating listen that resides somewhere in the neighborhood of punk, garage, and dance rock that fans of Riot Grrrl bands, the early days of Sub Pop records, and diehard anglophiles should be paying close attention to. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“New Favorite” starts the listen with fluid lo-fi indie rock sensibilities in the driving yet restrained setting, and “Doctor” follows with Graves' expressive pipes against the dynamic garage rocker that, it turns out, is most likely autobiographical.

On a record where each tune is your new favorite, “Eleven” starts subdued and builds into an emotive, almost ebullient rocker, while “Over And Over” simmers with post-punk tendencies that takes nods to the '80s. “Chapters” one of the best tunes, starts the back half of the listen with jagged instrumentation and strategic soft versus loud moments of tension and grace, as Graves delivers a forthright masterpiece.

Other highlights from Side B include the alt-rock stabs of “Used To” and the gritty yet tuneful execution of “A Cabin,” where Graves shows us just how much those vocals can soar. “Animals” ends the listen playful and danceable, as the trio power through riffs and rhythm with a charming, timeless appeal.

This is an extremely personal and cathartic return to music after Graves was sidelined with health issues for many years. In fact, the cover is an x-ray of her chest while the doctors were trying to diagnose her condition. Following her absence from her art, she returns more inspired and passionate than ever.

The Pacific Northwest has gifted us many incredible outfits over the years, including The Decemberists, Death Cab For Cutie and Sleater-Kinney. We can now add J. Graves to that growing list, as Marathon is nothing short of vital.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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