Eclectic, talented, musically diverse, bizarre, unique and spiritual. All of these attributes are held by the Edmonton, Alberta based band, Junkyard Poets. In 2009 Junkyard Poets delivered what can be considered a defining moment in Christian music with their debut release, Rock, Pop, Roll. Furnishing a wide range of musical styles, often with multiple genres on a single song, the album stretched the musical norms to the limits. Rock, Pop, Roll had incredible production values, talented musicianship, excellent songwriting, and delivered with CD packaging that is second to none. All of which was produced by a band whose members were still in high school.
Originally comprised of six members, Junkyard Poets is down to their three core musicians: Jared Salte – lead vocals, keys, synths; Peter Mol – guitar, drums, vocals, keys; Derek Gust – bass, keys, vocals. Yet even with a drop in numbers their music has stayed the course.
It’s been a long wait to their follow-up album, Mrs. Sophomore. The album received some early recognition when the yet to be released single, “Got Me Good”, was nominated as modern rock/alternative song of the year at the 2011 GMA Covenant awards. However the album was still a long way from completion.
Undoubtedly it must have been daunting for the band to head back to the studio and produce a new effort. Junkyard Poets recognized the notorious “sophomore slump”, where a band’s second effort fails to meet their fans and market expectations. They opted to meet the challenge head on and even gave recognition to this trait by aptly titling the album Mrs. Sophomore.
It may have been a lengthy three years in production, but Mrs. Sophomore was well worth the wait. Junkyard Poets pulled out all the stops by dishing out a huge effort, 19 songs and an additional bonus track, for a whopping 70 plus minutes in length, yet it may still be too short once you become captivated by the music.
Here are just a few of the highlights found on Mrs. Sophomore:
- “Intro”: A great yet simple piano melody and subdued vocals draws the listener in for the spectacle about to unfold.
- Track 2, “Gloria”, delivers a rousing chorus “hang on to something that is real, you’ve got to sing it out, Gloria!”, against a background of distorted keys and big drums.
- Undoubtedly a central track found on Mrs. Sophomore must be the single, “Got Me Good”. Jared Salte shows off both his unique vocal style along with his amazing production talents. A common and interesting feature of Junkyard Poets in the dramatic change in song pacing and this may be one of their best examples. This is one very catchy song that will have you singing along in no time.
- JP throws in the electro based “Death of the Party” to keep the feet moving.
- One of the more unusual tracks is “That’s That” which begins with a banjo, synths and strings background then bounding into a full-blown, in your face, number.
- More often than not an artists instrumentals remain as filler, not so with the instrumentals which abound on Mrs Sophomore. “Hickory Dock”, “Prologue”, “Humpty’s Requiem”, and “Tom Waits” are excellent examples.
- A number of additional album tracks to check out are “The Sound”, “World at War”, “Ground”, and “All The King’s Horses”.
- “Regret” brings the listener into a state of melancholy as Salte shares his remorse as he sings “I should have taken the time to save someone new”.
- “The End” is another outstanding example of the musical surprises offered up by Junkyard Poets and it may officially conclude the album, but the bonus track, “You Gotta Love Somebody”, may be the greatest track on Mrs. Sophomore. Previously recorded for Junkyard Poets first album, Rock, Pop, Roll, the new rendition gives an emotionally charged tribute to a family caught in both the devastation of the earthquake in Haiti and their own family dynamics.
It’s a pleasure to hear a band that doesn’t hold to the status quo where artists produce mind-numbingly similar songs. Junkyard Poets breaks the musical norms, and does so with abandon and excellence. Mrs. Sophomore needs to be on everyone’s “must listen to” list.