I’m not sure what the name Juke Cove makes you think of. For some reason, probably my age, for me it conjures up images of a pirate-themed bar that would have been the coolest thing ever in the 1980s. You know, the sort of place that would be a favourite hangout of characters in The Lost Boys and look a bit like the set of The Goonies. I’m sure we all agree that that would be pretty awesome and we’d all want to roll up the sleeves of our ill-fitting jackets there, but as a band name it doesn’t really give you many clues as to what to expect.
In many ways that’s entirely appropriate as on their debut album Juke Cove provide you with six tracks that are plenty heavy, but surprisingly hard to categorise. The three-piece hail from Leipzig and, according to the blurb, their sound ‘combines elements of doom, stoner, grunge, funk, blues, and punk’. I might be being overly literal, but I’m not getting huge amounts of funk or blues from this, but it’s still pretty eclectic. There are times where the band sound decidedly angular and mathy, times where they rock out some quality instrumental stoner-psych jams, and times when they nail that sludgy, aggressive take on stoner-doom that UK bands like Among The Missing perfected back in the day.
Arise starts things off with some busy off-kilter drumming before things settle down into a solid stoner-doom groove. The track is essentially instrumental (there are some weird processed speech samples or spoken word sections, but they’re quite brief) and, while it’s nothing earth-shatteringly different, it’s well-played with just enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.
Next up is Swirl, which suckers you into thinking that the album is going to be instrumental throughout with a mellow intro that’s begging to build into a slow-burn psych jam. Instead, around the two-minute mark Juke Cove hit the gas and things take-off in a completely different direction. Actually, the guitar and bass tones here are really sweet and warm – definitely reminiscent of bands like Somali Yacht Club – until there’s another sharp change and the band veer off into much more angular, aggressive territory. Although the track covers a lot of ground stylistically, it still manages to sound organic and thoroughly rocking.
For a debut album it’s nice to hear a band that bring an eclectic range of sounds and make them work…
The punky, aggressive feel is carried over into third track Remedy, but after two minutes of fast-paced aggro, Juke Cove slow things down with a melody that sounds just a bit too similar to Weedeater’s Monkey Junction. It’s not note-for-note identical, but each time I listen to it I do tend to find myself doing my best Dixie Dave impression and wondering aloud whether I should just head back to West Virginia. That said, taken on its own terms Remedy is a pretty cool track that builds satisfyingly across its eight-minute running time and even features a clarinet solo, which is something that I can’t imagine North Carolina’s finest doing.
After the promising start I tend to find my attention wandering during the second half of the album. There are some good moments and it’s more than competently played, but there’s not enough that particularly grabs you. Ramble is a decent instrumental track with the odd riff that really jumps out, but overall is a touch forgettable. Adrift is similar: there’s a great atmospheric section with some tremolo-picked guitar, but the beginning and end are less interesting. Actually, I’m probably being a bit unfair here – there’s some good stuff here and it’s not really the band’s fault that my brain moves onto other things unless there are some vocals to give it a prod.
The vocals return for the album-closer Ignite, which has definite doomy overtones. The first half is fine, but the second half of the track really comes to life with an insistent and awesome bass riff driving proceedings. It’s a really good showcase of the band’s excellent musicianship and a great way to finish on a high note.
Overall I enjoyed Remedy, although I’d tag it as ‘good’ rather than ‘great’. For a debut album it’s nice to hear a band that bring an eclectic range of sounds and make them work, and there are some great moments. For me though, the half-instrumental-half-not set-up didn’t quite work and I felt that the second half of the record meandered somewhat. That said, I’d definitely be interested to see what Juke Cove come up with in the future and you could much worse than give this a listen.
Scribed by: Liam Blanc