NEW JUNK CITY: Same Places: LP

Dang, expectations are killers. And I never want to fault a band for organic growth and trying new shit out, right? That said, I absolutely loved the self-titled New Junk City record. It was pretty flawless, and still gets regular plays around here. The split they did a few years later with Robot (Re)pair was solid as well, so yeah, I had really high expectations for Same Places. And in some ways, those expectations were met—the band’s tilling mostly familiar ground here: revisiting their folky, poppy punk that’s moored in Americana and a lyrical lexicon based staunchly in heartache, stasis, and regret. It’s still pretty catchy; simultaneously forlorn and buoyant. And there are a few gems for sure—a song like “Stay Asleep” wouldn’t have been that out of place on the first album. Then there are efforts like the nearly five-minute-long “Losing Side,” which relies almost entirely on a single riff and drags the record’s momentum. So it’s a mixed bag— New Junk City’s still entirely themselves, you know, but not all the risks taken here land solidly. Same Places doesn’t quite snag itself in this listener’s ears, guts, et cetera as much as previous efforts. Still, sometimes records are immediate, and sometimes they take a while to find purchase. This one’s good enough to keep listening to, trying to find that connection. –Keith Rosson (Night Animal)