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ACL Fest review: Junip

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Eric Pulsifer

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 5, 2013

Day Two has been all sweat-soaked shirts and sunburns, but halfway into Swedish folk-rockers Junip’s set, that godsend of a forecasted cold front began to subdue the stifling sun. The Gothenburg-based trio — performing today as a six-piece — is fronted by singer-songwriter José González, who’s a bit of a modern day Simon and Garfunkel with indie cred.

Plucking at his classical guitar and with a voice that feels pulled from another era through a telephone, González is best known as the quiet, contemplative crooner behind the hypnotic cover of fellow Swedes the Knife’s song “Heartbeats.” But, in Junip, the players’ combined efforts sound more like local favorites Black Angels doing a Tiny Desk Concert than a guy playing for cash tips at a coffee shop.

The sweet serenade of nylon strings stirred with the occasional psychedelic synth and fat, fuzzy bass made for blanket-based listening with something sinister lingering just below the droning surface.

González and drummer Elias Araya have been playing together since they were teenagers, and the chemistry shows. One could say Junip’s set was sleepy at times, but it’s hard to deny the polish in their dark, chill sound — a well-placed pinch of organ here and a shake of world percussion there in a mix that never felt too jammy.

As the air cooled, there was just enough fog on stage to see the spectre of lights pouring over the band as they closed with fan favorite “Line of Fire.”