Jaill is a garage/psych-pop combo from Milwaukee, Wisconsin formed in 2002.
Jaill is a lot like other bands; they've slept on your floor, you've made fun of their pillow cases, they're not nearly as good at Excitebike as they said they were and although they all say they're cool with cats, no ones excited about sleeping at the cat house. So it should come as no surprise that, as bands sometimes do, they’ve made a new record. And that record is Traps, their second for Sub Pop, but first to adopt the bold new marketing strategy of giving away a free pair of Nike cross-trainers to anyone who steals it on the internet. Take that, Radiohead. So, but, what is Traps? And what about it can best fill five paragraphs? Traps is pretty, it’s moody, it pops. It has the scrappy, vengeful enthusiasm of a puppy stuck under a blanket. It’s an adorably grumpy bear just awoken from his long winter’s slumber, with a mangy heart rarely found outside of the stuffed animal bin of a Salvation Army. It’s an album that expects to be taken seriously goddammit, even though it just puked on the bar.
Traps is also, and confidently, a Jaill record. It’s an acerbic exercise in both humility and aggression. Lyrically and melodically it portrays the malfunctioning universe inside a home, taking into account the myriad ways in which relationships and responsibilities can destroy a person’s mind. “Gave myself a good grade on barely losing my shit,” sings Vinnie Kircher on “While You Reload.” His resignation to the failed road ahead is all over Traps, from the sarcastic slap of the drum-machine snare in “Horrible Things (Make Pretty Songs),” to the recurring, sounding-like-a-broken-Slinky riff of album opener “Waste a Lot of Things.” In “House with Haunting” Kircher waxes philosophical on the pains of getting older, with a home still overrun with friends and houseguests. Yet on “I’m Home,” Kircher laments, “I have clown hands now, bowtie spins around,” whatever philosophies he had giving way to sardonic acquiescence.
But for Traps to sound like its subject matter was in a way inescapable, recorded as it was in Kircher’s crummy, poorly lit basement. Sacrificing most of 2011 to the album’s completion, with minimal gear and a control room of thrift store afghans, Jaill set out to create a record they thought would be worthy of appreciation, without much of a plan beyond that. This was a return to the in-home manufacturing process they honed back in the day, before big labels came along and started throwing their comically large bankrolls around. They started tracking in January, combing through well over a dozen songs, rerecording some, judiciously discarding others. The process became about self-awareness, scrutiny and a strong desire for inventiveness. By October, the band was in agreement: tracking for the lean, eleven-song album was finished. November brought them out to New York briefly, where Brooklyn’s most hilarious jokester, Nicolas Vernhes of Rare Book Room, mixed the band's mangled masterpiece. He brought the ideas in line, keeping the sentiment true to its basement origins. Clownishly huge stacks of money were again thrown at various problems. High-fives were given, and deserved. Soon the album was mastered and aptly titled, Traps.
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