If I, in some sporadic universe of hypotheticals, were to start a college or university that taught practical life and social skills, I would not hire Just Friends to teach “How to Live Up to Expectations 101”. I would hire them to run the department.
The amount of intense hype about Nothing but Love had me actually afraid. I knew it was going to be good, but wasn’t sure if it could quite reach the levels I’d constructed for myself. It did.
For anyone who reads through the daily playlists, it is no surprise that I have a particular affinity for brass. My dad is a jazz-trained trumpeter, and I played Mellophone (google it) for years. I am genetically hardwired to enjoy brass. The miracle is, brass isn’t on this album just to HAVE brass; nothing about it feels forced. That being said, the sound of effortlessness it achieves requires weeks or months of hard work to play correctly, let alone compose in accordance with the styling of emo music and, ya know, a band.
The attitude I get from this album and the artists involved is one I try vigorously to pursue in myself. The quality of the music is intentional and has quite clearly taken months of detailed, focused effort-- Just Friends & squad take their music and art seriously. That being said, they don’t apply quite the same seriousness to themselves; tracks like “107.7 KJFC” let goofy personalities shine through… on the fictional talk radio show on airwave 420.69.
If I had to pick a word, I’d say daring. This album, as a general idea, had a decent chance of failing miserably. An album on the verge of funk, significantly rapped over, and released by a DIY/emo band? Sounds like a plan constructed by your 15-year-old using Garage Band for the first time in 2009. Normal people simplify could not make it work.
Thankfully for all of us, Just Friends is not made up of normal people.
Somehow, the opening, “1-800-CHOP-CITY”, is one of my favorites on the album. In a composition reliant on personality, it gives the album perspective from the beginning- just a whole squad trying to get shit done, but also peppering in a little (read: a lot) of fun. Dibs on the phrase “We Chop it Up” for a post-Fest insta post.
Curious to see his response, I texted my dad the link to the album with the insistence that he listen to “Never Gonna Bring You Down”, one of my favorites from the album given the playfully argumentative guitar & brass. Expecting harsh technical criticism, he responded “Nice Horns!!”. Congrats, JF, your music is New Jersey Suburb Dad Band™️ approved.
Other notable tracks: “Supersonic” turns me on, I appreciate the emo-ness of “Bang My Line II”, and I didn’t really comprehend just how many instruments I have at least a basic grasp of until I heard the Bass Clarinet in the intro for “Faucet”.
The title track, “Nothing but Love”, is largely instrumental, but I’d venture to say the few lyrics pretty accurately sum up 2018 Just Friends: “It doesn’t matter what you say/it doesn’t matter anyway/because we on top of the world motherfucker don’t you ever forget”. The top of the world, indeed.
Check out Just Friends new album Nothing But Love, streaming across platforms now!