- Junes, Nothing Feels Right
I'm a strong believer in spirit ages. Your spirit age is how old you feel, not how old you are according to the calendar. I think this is important information to know about others, and I highly recommend asking your loved ones about their spirit age. Mine is 17. As a 17-year-old, spiritually speaking, I'd say Nothing Feels Right hits.
This six-song EP by Jasmine Gruen, aka Junes, is her first release. Gruen captures sentiments of everyday teenage life both in her lyrics and in her lackadaisical, melodic instrumentation. She has natural talent, and it is no surprise to learn that music runs in her family. Her father is singer-songwriter Kris Gruen, and her grandfather, Bob Gruen, is a music photographer.
Nothing Feels Right is the indie bedroom pop of Frankie Cosmos meets the lyrical commentary of the Juno soundtrack (Kimya Dawson of the Moldy Peaches) meets the lo-fi vibe of Kurt Vile and the Velvet Underground. Gruen's music is stripped-down and blunt, a stream of consciousness expressed over simple (which is not to say unskilled), catchy guitar riffs and complemented by light percussion, piano melodies and bouncy bass lines.
It's unclear whether the music is a vehicle for her thoughts or the other way around, which speaks to the strength of both music and lyrics. Each sound is efficient and serves a purpose, evidence of how well the tracks are mixed and mastered.
According to a U-32 Chronicle article, when 5-year-old Gruen, now a junior in high school, was asked what role she would play in a band, she responded, "I'd be the writer." Her lyrics are a strength of the EP. She sings of thoughts and feelings in such an explicit way that her lyrics almost feel metaphorical, not unlike those of Courtney Barnett.
It's surprisingly difficult to use the exact words you mean, especially in song. Yet Gruen does so artfully. A small sample of my favorite lyrics: "Another little song / of how I don't belong," she sings in "Magazine." In "Nostalgia" she sings, "When I'm sad my friends tell me I look pretty." From "Stereotype," a highlight of the record: "Is my life just a stereotype waiting for the school bell to ring / they say it's all in my head so I guess I'll dye my hair green."
Similar to my belief in spirit ages, I believe that chronological age doesn't dictate talent. Feelings and art and the skill to express them in beautiful ways don't hinge on how old you are, which Gruen makes abundantly clear with her authentic, impressive first EP.
Nothing Feels Right is available on all major streaming platforms. Gruen plays an album release show on Thursday, June 23, at the Christ Church courtyard in Montpelier.