Pop punk screamo outfit Josephine Collective doesn’t sing the same old love songs and definitely are not your usual romantics, but the group’s outlook on life and love is romantic nonetheless. With the help of Goldfinger’s John Feldmann, this Kansas City group’s major label debut We Are The Air manages to perfectly capture the energy of their live show that has made them popular tour mates for bands like The Used.
We Are The Air has the possibility to be overwhelming coming from a group with six members, but the guys did a superb job balancing out their size so they could keep it interesting, but not so busy that the album is confusing. Much like Taking Back Sunday, their excellent balancing act is especially noticeable in the nice hand off of vocals between Dillon DeVoe and Alex Sandate.
The album kicks off with their single “Living,” a song about enjoying life and avoiding drugs. It’s a strong song that doesn’t beat you over the head with its message. This song is what Josephine Collective is all about: there are interesting tempos, fun effects not done solely through the keyboard, a chorus where they change up the notes so it doesn’t get repetitious and the feeling that the band is talking directly to the audience as if you were seeing the song live.
As the album develops, songs get quirkier and reveal more about the band’s likes and personalities. “Clementine” shows how knowledgeable the band is as they reference clichés, songs and Shakespeare as they cleverly sing, “I hate to see you die before you’re born, / Now is the winter of your discontent,” which leads them into their twist on a classic American folk song, “Oh Clementine, / you’ll never be mine.”
The band takes a break from their usual style in “Leave Me Love” as they break out the beats and start rapping. It gets even stranger as they toss in some choral vocals, but while my tendency is to ask, “WTF?” this song surprisingly turns into a fun dance number. Their cleverness is again evident when thinking of the double meanings of “Leave Me Love,” which can be interpreted as leave me the feeling of love or if love is a person then, love, leave me.
As I said earlier, the band is surprisingly romantic. My favorite track on this album is the ballad, “It’s Like Rain,” which has the band howling with the emotions of the song as they sing, “It’s like rain on a beautiful day. The clouds go away as we’re just singing and playing and alright. Then you’ll know that no matter where the wind blows us we’ve always got each other.” Who would have thought that a screamo group could even come off sounding this cuddly?
Despite the tenderness of the song “It’s Like Rain”, their humor isn’t lost as they end by fading into a little buzz that sounds like a fly. The fly sounds like it has been swatted by the crack of the drums that starts the next song, “Ivy League,” and by doing this they create a transition between the songs that not only helps the listener move on from the previous song’s music, but also the previous song’s sentiments.
Josephine Collective’s debut is full of surprises. If you can’t find a song you like in their wide range of styles then maybe you can find a chuckle in their banter between tracks. Either way, this is a band you will see a lot more of in the future if they keep turning out energetic hits like the ones found on this album.
We Are The Air was digitally released on June 24, 2008 by Reprise/Warner. Look for a hard copy in the fall.
02. Crack My Heart
06. Leave Me Love
07. It’s Like Rain
08. Ivy League
09. Let Go
10. Pray For Rain
July 02 @ Rock Bottom in San Antonio, TX
July 03 @ Red 7 in Austin, TX
July 04 @ Ridglea Theatre (early show) / Ft. Worth, TX
July 06 @ High Ground / Metairie, LA
July 15 @ New Brookland Tavern / Columbia, SC
July 16 @ Greene St / Greensboro, NC
July 18 @ Uncle Pleasant’s / Louisville, KY
July 19 @ House Café / Dekalb, IL
July 22 @ Beaumont / Kansas City, MO
July 23 @ Creepy Crawl / St. Louis, MO
July 24 @ Station 4 / St. Paul, MN
July 26 @ Reggie’s Rock Club / Chicago, IL
July 27 @ Mac’s Bar / Lansing, MI
July 31 @ The Ottobar / Baltimore, MD
Aug. 02 @ Knitting Factory-Tap Room / NY, NY
Aug. 03 @ Middle East-Upstairs / Boston, MA
Aug. 05 @ The Space / Hamden, CT
Aug. 06 @ Maxwell’s / Hoboken, NJ
Aug. 07 @ Water Street Music Hall / Rochester, NY
Aug. 09 @ Boney Junes / Evansville, IN