There aren’t many genres in western pop culture that are as shrouded in urban lore as punk rock is, and in the new record Punk Goes the Velvet from Jupiter in Velvet, the one-man band attempts to explore that lore through a sonic wisdom that has become difficult to ignore if you’ve been keeping up with the underground pulse in the last few years.
Jupiter in Velvet doesn’t take the task at hand lightly – in tracks like “Please Don’t Ever Let Me Go,” “Get Out” and the vicious “And so the Earth Stood Still,” the homage to classic punk starts to feel more original and forward-thinking than it does retro in tone, and things play out similarly in “Not Again” and “Dimestore Suave” as well. There’s a lot of old fashioned cues here, such as stop/start dynamics, noise-filtered melodies and pop hooks that have been given a dose of methamphetamine-style adrenaline, but none of them are arranged in a way that would deliberately make us think of any specific bands in the history of this genre. Punk Goes the Velvet is not the standard highly-stylized worship EP that it initially bills itself as, but instead a running commentary on punk’s best and worst qualities wrapped into a single disc for our convenience.
The Bowie-esque feel to the design of “Get Out” and “Please Don’t Ever Let Me Go” shows us that Jupiter in Velvet wants to start with proto-punk and work his way through the eras, alluding to vintage hardcore in “Not Again” and a post-alternative grind in “And so the Earth Stood Still” and Bob Mould-flavored “Dimestore Suave.” Nothing in the tracklist runs over four minutes in total length, but this isn’t the only department in which efficiency seems of paramount importance to the artist at the helm of the artistic narrative here. Even in the abrasiveness of “Not Again” and “Dimestore Suave,” aren’t overwhelmed with excesses of any instrumentation or lyrical themes – everything from the music to the lyrics to the actual style of the production is steeped in a cut and dry, to the point punk ethic that doesn’t allow for there to be too much of any one element at once.
I didn’t know a lot about Jupiter in Velvet before I had the opportunity to explore his discography starting with Punk Goes the Velvet just this week, but if he can continue to bring the attitude he has in recent releases to both the studio and the stage, I don’t see any reason why he won’t start to get some of the mainstream appreciation that has evaded indie players like himself too often in the last decade. 2020 is bringing quite the turn of tides with regards to control of a once-again burgeoning underground circuit in the United States, and if this artist plays his cards right, there’s a good chance that a sequel to Punk Goes the Velvet could do a lot to lift his name from the shadows and into the spotlight where it belongs.