Categories
Reviews

Listen: “Hell of a Woman” – Papooz

As musicians, we needed to be way more demanding of ourselves.

Ulysse Cottin, on limiting distractions while writing and recording None of This Matters Now

Armand Penicaut and Ulysse Cottin, the key players in French indie-pop duo, Papooz, have been best friends since meeting at a Patti Smith show in 2008. “We would just be kids, smoke joints, talk shit, play guitar, and make up songs,” Penicaut says of the early years of their friendship. The carefree comradery and fellowship of the two overflows into their creations, resulting in three very different albums.

Papooz released their third album, None of This Matters Now just this month. The band’s funk-driven Green Juice (2019) precedes their recent release and differs greatly from folk-infused None of This Matters Now. The former is high energy, filled with songs meant for nights spent dancing, while the latter seems destined to be played on a weekend trip away with friends among the trees.

The entirety of None of This Matters Now was recorded in an all-wood studio, built by the band’s drummer, Pierre-Marie Dornan. “For a couple of weeks we would rehearse the songs during the day, and then record at night while drinking red wine,” Cottin shared in a press release for the album. The ease of the album’s flow is a testament to the band’s natural chemistry and desire for authenticity.

“As musicians, we needed to be way more demanding of ourselves,” Cottin shared, “We couldn’t just rely on fixing mistakes later. No one could get distracted by their phone or smoking a cigarette. It’s about focus.” The focus was due in part by being surrounded by likeminded and comfortable collaborators: “Plus it’s way easier to be focused in the room when it’s just your best mates, friends coming to visit late at night,” Cottin says.

Armand studied literature, and I’ve always loved poetry, so I think the best songs in life are the more intimate ones.

Ulysses Cottin on co-collaborator, Armand Penicaut’s talent for songwriting

The second single from the album, “Hell of a Woman” channels that revered 70s-inspired psych-rock sound that resembles a ray of sunshine, but be warned: the track is misleadingly melancholy. “Hell of a Woman” mourns the loss of light in a relationship that’s lived past its expiration, and accepting that loss with grace. The pre-chorus is especially bleak: “We’ve been together for so long it’s a crime / I’m stealing thunder from the rims of your eyes / You heard the words right / What in the world went wrong?”

With dreamy instrumentation, it’s incredibly easy to get lost while listening to None of This Matters Now, despite its candid lyricism. “Armand studied literature, and I’ve always loved poetry, so I think the best songs in life are the more intimate ones,” Cottin shared. With themes of global-warming-induced anxiety on the title track, of remorse and reflection on “I’d Rather Be the Moon,” Papooz creates a tenderly raw listening experience.

Jessica K
Jessica K

Jessica is a writer in her late twenties and is casually withering away in the Midwestern Wasteland of Central Indiana.

Categories
Reviews

Boston-Based Indie Pop Band, Juniper Performs Post Album Release

If you’re overthinking, send a text.

Juniper the Band is breaking into the indie music scene, and they’re a must listen.

Following the June release of their debut album Distance Keeps Me Distant, Boston-based independent band, Juniper— composed of Scott Johnson, Ahren Shreeve, and Alejandro Marin—, had their first Manhattan live show at the Berlin Underground theatre this past Wednesday, October 13th. Lead vocalist Scott Johnson described the experience as “something you dream of.” Not only was it a packed crowd for a Wednesday evening, Johnson mentioned his awe at how interactive the show was: “It blew me away, not only as validation for what we’re doing, but as in, people are showing up and wanting to be a part of it.” The set consisted of the band’s new tracks, mixed with a few covers.

Juniper the Band consists of Alejandro Marin (left), Ahren Schreeve, and Scott Johnson. Photo credit: Hayley Bigness

We make what we feel in that moment.

Throughout Juniper’s five years of existence, releasing an album was always the long-term goal. Touching on themes of distance, love, and anxiety, Johnson describes this album as one based on relationships. Stemming from the idea that “the most authentic thing I can relate to that other people can share, is relationships, whether that be with a significant other, or with friends and family, with the world around you, or with yourself, and how that changes as you continue to live, especially during the pandemic.” Johnson continued to discuss how being forced into isolation changed his outlook on relationships and the everyday decisions he would make. It’s from this notion that Juniper developed the title and central theme for their album (and the title track): “Distance Keeps Me Distant.” 

When speaking on the album’s recording process, Johnson explained how the making of the album was not linear, but rather eclectic: “it’s a process of reacting and listening at the same time, and that kind of drives the creative process.”  Some of the recording was done in Maine, at drummer Alejandro Marin’s family home, and some was done in Johnson’s bedroom closet. The different locations and recording process is what gives the album such a variety of sounds and, ultimately, enables it to feel more their own. Johnson explains, “We make what we feel in that moment.”

Songs like “Angelina” and “More Than I Can Handle” have an indie-pop tone, while “Puzzle Pieces” and “Overthinking” lean more in the indie-folk direction, “Out of Nowhere” and “Fighting Wars From Every Direction” have an alternative rock vibe, and songs like “Daydream” and “Driving” maintain more of a soul and R&B sound. This wide variety of genres and influences throughout the album make the listening process fresh and avoids it from feeling oversaturated for both the band and the listener.

…your mind is like a racing highway, and each thought is like a car driving by.”

Juniper’s lead vocalist, Scott Johnson, speaks on the detriments of constant rumination.

Johnson discussed the writing and recording of the ninth song of the album, “Overthinking,” which was written during the height of the pandemic within a time-span of about 45 minutes. Describing it as a “more introspective song, that is vulnerable…I try to lead with vulnerability with my writing, and after I came up with the first progression on the guitar it felt like such an emotion.” The tone and the energy of the chords was the driving force in how the band came to the idea of overthinking: “your mind is racing like a highway, and each thought is like a car driving by.” This resonates with the band’s TikTok bio which reads: “if you’re overthinking, send a text.” Johnson felt that being really specific with the writing of feelings and emotions is what enables the listener to relate more closely to the song. So for the closing verse of the song, “we wanted it to feel like this big cataclysmic moment of realization and energy.” It’s rare to find artists that can convey raw emotion through both their lyrics and music, but this is exactly what Juniper does by being vulnerable  in “Overthinking.”

New music and more shows are in Juniper’s future, as they’ll be playing another live show in Manhattan at the Bowery Electric on November 12th, and at Pearl Street Warehouse in D.C on November 19th. Ultimately, Juniper wants “to maintain this mentality and identity of feeling and sounding like a band, but with modern production.” They want to be that next big band, and with what they’ve been able to accomplish thus far as independent artists, their goals may not be so far out of reach.

<img class="wp-block-coblocks-author__avatar-img" src="https://greatergoodmusicblog.files.wordpress.com/2022/07/58cda-mollymacduff.jpg&quot; alt="Written by:
Written by:
Molly MacDuff

Molly MacDuff is a writer and editor currently attending Emerson College’s Publishing and Writing MA program.