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The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up

Alright, let's get one thing straight: there is no one named Jim Yoshii in The Jim Yoshii Pile Up. So put that thought right out of your mind. Now, as for the "Pile Up" part, that's another story. Oakland's JYPU have displayed an impressive collection of emotions and influences in their musical offerings to date. Their releases explore the gentle purity of melancholy, the brittle smiles of the desperate, and the exhaustive chaos of the bitter. By infusing late-period Bedhead and early Mogwai with the kind of vocal confidence and lyrical frankness so commonly misused by the early '80s English goth bands and late '90s Midwestern emo punks, this group brings the intensely personal ballad into the post-Slint age. JYPU unleashes the potency of the minimal and the glory of the extravagant and the epic. They have also been known to rock.

This is their story: they started as a trio called Andymat who played primarily for their friends. When their friends took them seriously they decided they were a real band, became a five-piece, and changed their name. In 1999, they issued their five-song self-titled debut EP. Two years later the band returned with their first LP, It's Winter Here, on Absolutely Kosher Records. On that album, they more fully realized their unique synthesis of moody multiple-guitar instrumentalism and heartfelt emotional rock, perfecting an intelligent and distinct sound for closet emo enthusiasts everywhere.

The Pile-Up self-released a couple of EPs after that album and split a seven-inch with melancholic popsters Wussom Pow!. Then in 2002, the moodily pretty quintet issued its second LP, Homemade Drugs, which they recorded with acclaimed Bay Area producer Scott Solter (The Court and Spark, Tarentel) at John Vanderslice's Tiny Telephone studio. The songs don't rely on distortion and sonic force as much as on It's Winter Here, opting for a fragile, intricate, emotional beauty. Singer Paul Gonzenbach also sings more here, offering numerous moments of luminous and graceful introspection. Homemade Drugs represents a slight evolution in style for this highly regarded band, while underscoring their capacity for evoking strong emotional responses through complex, original compositions.