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"Jubala Album Review"

Summary: A dynamic and diverse album that requires nothing less than your immediate and undivided attention.

Picture yourself cliff-diving into the ocean - its colors of emerald, jade, and opal swirl as you splash in, complementing the illuminating coral that engulfs you as you sink to the bottom. Clownfish and tangs reflect off the sun's rays and shimmer with an iridescent glow that could not possibly be seen elsewhere. As you glance around the reef, it's as if Mother Nature splashed her canvas with such remarkable precision that you stop and marvel at its splendor. This would be underwater paradise, and while it beckons you to stay, you realize that you don't have gills.

There have been few records this year that have captured the imagination with as much fervor as Jubala's self-titled debut release, set to drop later this month. The Californian quintet's music is unabashedly soulful, with heart-on-one's-sleeve lyricism that's astutely supported by atmospheric, melodic instrumentation. The effect-laden guitars carry an almost post-rock ambiance when not delivering thick, crunching riffs. The keyboards play a significant role in the album's aura as well, and the bass underneath supports the other instruments with an undeniably warm, mellifluous tone. Jubala's record is intricately designed, but never over-the-top in composition or delivery, and their aural landscapes and sonic ambiance suck you in not unlike when scuba diver stays fixated on the ocean's underwater beauty before decompression sickness sets in.

Let's address something right from the onset: this record is not for those who only need music for white noise in the background. Jubala is a dynamic and diverse album that requires nothing less than your immediate and undivided attention. There is a lot of music on the record; without question, listeners will hear something new or innovative with each subsequent listen. Stated differently, there is no possible way one can reasonably digest this album on one listen alone. How many songs this year start off moderately, with only bass and vocals, before giving way to a keyboard interlude that seamlessly segues into a saxophone solo that sounds like it was taken right out of a 1930s Chicago club? The track (aptly titled "On Stage") does not stop there - the saxophone break turns into a funky, guitar-driven passage that serves as an absolute album highlight. Jubala features literally hundreds of these ambitious, expertly-crafted passages. This review would continue paragraph upon paragraph highlighting all of them; thus, the onus is on you, the listener, to seek them out yourself. As was previously written: there is a lot of music on this record, and Jubala requires you to sit down in uninterrupted silence to hear everything that this record has to offer. If any record warrants you to set aside time out of your day to spend listening to it, Jubala is that record.

Bookended by "On" and "Off" - whose purpose is to establish the album's tone (in the case of "On") or remind the listener of what he/she has just heard via a sonic cool-down (as is the case with "Off") - Jubala truly starts with the mesmerizing "Welcome to the Fall." Graceful bass and steady drumming juxtapose pulchritudinous guitars, whose celestial effects help elevate the soaring vocals. "Welcome to the Fall's" lyricism can be viewed as sarcastic ("The youth are fending off starvation / An eighty hour week and they'll get by / You think they care about their exploitation when a year ago they struggled to survive? / . . . The CEOs assess the situation: they'll cut a thousand more just to stay alive") or abrasive ("Careless schemes, useless wars, is this the dream our fathers died for? / Somehow, I don't think so / . . . It's survival of the fittest here / The third world is the new frontier"), but the sardonic lyricism can easily be perceived as being cognizant of political issues affecting today's world - such social commentary has lost steam over the past couple years, for whatever reason - and makes for a refreshing listen. The ascending vocals in the track's chorus are further elevated by high-end guitar work, slick solos, and a crunching main riff.

All those elements combine to create one killer track, but Jubala features multiple killer tracks. From the aforementioned "On Stage" (where the band depicts how cathartic playing a live show can be, as evidenced by lyrical passages such as "Up on the stage, all my worries are miles away - it's like night and day - all I gotta do is let the music come and take me away" complemented by a crisp, funky guitar progression) to the epic "Climber" to the hard-rocking "Far Away," each track exhibits its own unmistakable identity. The 6:00+ "Climber" is highlighted by stellar, engaging guitar work, but is driven even more by a powerful metaphor; in it, Jubala compares life as a mountain, and even when the conditions are tough ("Night falls, full moon on the rise, I can’t see in front of me / The wind is filled with ice / I stumble onto stone and hang on by a thread with miles below me / The worst is still ahead"), you have to finish what you start ("Don't look down, don't turn back, keep your eyes ahead / Take this journey to the end"). Continuing the metaphor even further, however, Jubala reminds us to "Check your pride / You'll make this climb again," as life is a series of labors that ultimately come down to how much courage and heart you have. In the case of the song's climber, whose "hands like ice, legs like boulders" give him momentary weakness, "[his] heart maintains [him]" and "keeps [him] going as it grows colder" as he ascends the mountain to its apex. While special attention has been drawn to the lyricism and metaphors in "Climber," the track is arguably one of the best instrumental pieces on the record, with spectacular percussion, precipitant keys, and rumbling bass.

Three more tracks that deserve mention are the previously-referenced "Far Away" (whose hammer-on/pull-off guitarwork is immensely catchy, as are the simple back-up vocals throughout the verses), the elegiac, keyboard-driven "Aftermath," and the to-and-fro "Spiritual Warrior," whose demeanor changes multiple times throughout.

If any criticisms are to be levied against Jubala, it's not that there's too much going on - the record is far from a daedalian listening experience - but that the mixing makes it hard to hear everything clearly. Oftentimes, such as in "Dear Father" or "Shades of Gray," the low-end toms are pushed too far down in the mix, but it's evident that they were integral fills to the song. Other times, the main riffs don't take precedence over the effect-laden guitars, which causes songs to sound incomplete or lacking an assertive drive that's clearly defined on other tracks. Admittedly, this can be forgiven for the simple fact that the band produced this record themselves along with compatriot and aspiring producer Ben Reed. By their own admission, they "are not professionals," so any inconsistencies throughout the record may be looked past. Production aside, there are few musical faults on the record, although transition numbers such as "Entrata" or "What Is?" do little to prove that they are anything but time-fillers to mark shifts in between the album's stronger songs.

Jubala's self-titled debut record is not for the attention-deprived or for the listener who plays music for white noise in the background. Jubala is a dynamic and diverse record that absolutely demands your undivided attention: there are hundreds of highlights found on the record, but the onus is on you to find time to sit with headphones or a speaker system and listen to the stripped-down, soulful, and melodic music that Jubala performs on this record. There is so much beauty to be heard on this record, that it must absolutely be sought out and heard for yourself. Tracks like the socially-cognizant "Welcome to the Fall," the epic "Climber" and its extended metaphor, and the emotional outpouring heard on "On Stage" are all amazing cuts, with many other tracks - namely "This High," "Aftermath," and "Far Away" (especially its piano feature, which is absolutely awesome) - forging their own individualities on the album. Jubala is not a life-changing record, but it should most certainly crack at least one person's Top Ten List for 2008. If 2008 has left you feeling underwhelmed or dehydrated in the alternative or progressive genres, let Jubala's debut quench your thirst for something innovative. - SputnikMusic

"Jubala Leads thesixtyone.com"

Jubala has quickly established itself as the top band of choice on the revolutionary new music discover game thesixtyone. - www.thesixtyone.com

"Jubala Teams with Grammy Award Winnging Producer/Engineer for new Recordings"

Jubala recorded a two track demo-EP this summer with Grammy-winning producer John Wooler (Van Morrison), and engineer Oz Fritz (Tom Waits). - Exolution Entertainment

"Jubala Receives Praise from Retail Executive"

West LA Music VP and Head of Artist Relations Rick Waite praised Jubala's performance in Hollywood, stating, "Songs, melodies, and a performance of this quality are destined for success" - Exolution Entertainment

"Jubala Featured on Myx TV"

Jubala was featured on the show Digg on Myx TV. Check it out on YouTube, DirectTV, or any of the other worldwide outlets of the station. - myx.tv

"Trojan Rock Stars in the Making"

With three USC students and regular Ground Zero gigs, Jubala is taking the local scene by storm.

Ground Zero was full of life Saturday night as fans of Jubala flocked to the student-run coffeehouse to see the band perform a full-length set of original songs.

The band's name might sound bizarre, but Jubala's been cleverly redefining the term "modern rock" since 2001 - imagine a combination of Incubus, Sublime and Muse.

What's more, four of the five band members are USC students.

In the studio

All of the songs on the current EP, Storm After the Calm, are written, produced and composed by the quintet of friends.

Being friends makes it easier for members to critique one another, and allows each member to voice his opinion. The group typically starts off the writing process with simple riffs that spawn creative songs. Everyone then works to retool the lyrics, beats and melodies.

"(Lead vocalist) Sam (Saletta) is very soulful and (lead guitarist) Chris Lopez is much more hard rock. Each member shares different musical influences with the group. It's great," said rhythm guitarist Corey Johnson, a junior majoring in music industry and philosophy.

Jubala plans to make the move back into the studio shortly to record its second EP. This will be Jubala's first professional effort as the members collaborate with five-time Grammy winner John Wooler.

"Jubala is a combination of talented musicians who not only blend various music styles, but have an ability to cross over to the masses without losing any music integrity," Wooler said.

The members of Jubala said they are most concerned with quality of their music.

"We are not spending all our time trying to get a record label; we are trying to find solutions outside the traditional model of how a band goes through the process of gaining success," said Saletta, a senior majoring in jazz studies and music industry. Currently, Jubala's EP is available to purchase through its MySpace page, www.myspace.com/jubalamusic. Fan support

Jubala does a lot of its promoting for shows online, particularly through Facebook and MySpace, both popular sites where fans can view profiles, groups and upcoming events. The members of Jubala created a Facebook event for their Saturday show at Ground Zero, enabling fans to discuss the upcoming show with each other.

Through the creation of a global network, students from all over can discuss upcoming shows, songs and thoughts about the group. The Jubala Facebook group has more than 690 members, and the group is no longer limited to USC fans. Others from UC Santa Barbara, Pepperdine, UC Irvine and other California schools have joined the group.

Derek Steer, a student from Occidental College, was just one of many fans who made the trip to USC to see Jubala perform Saturday.

"I come to all their shows. I like Jubala's music because it is a little off the beaten path. It's stuff you wouldn't hear on the radio," Steer said.

The group works to get its songs out to as many people possible. Without a label, it is imperative for the members of Jubala to reach out to their fans. Their music is filled with eclectic sounds that appeal to a very broad audience, and Jubala prides itself on the fact that it does not just create a fan base but a community that is made up of diverse supporters.

Jubala strives to develop a personal connection with its fans and is fully committed to the group. Hectic schedules, however, make time management tough.

"Balancing a band and school work requires serious time management. We are doing something band-related every single day," said Lopez, a junior majoring in music performance.

On stage

In the past year, Jubala has performed at many different venues including clubs, charity events and college campuses. Any fan can certainly recall the jam-packed show Jubala played last year at Ground Zero.

"I first attended a concert of theirs at Ground Zero last year, and I was blown away by their soulful lyrics and original sound. I love the unique beats and the songs are really catchy," said Dallas Woodburn, a sophomore majoring in creative writing.

This year, Jubala was back, performing an extensive collection of songs to an enthusiastic crowd of friends, students and Jubala newcomers at the band's beloved venue.

"We love when the audience is into it because the audience makes shows and has to create the energy," Johnson said. "Ground Zero is a transfer of energy."

Jubala started off its live performance with three songs from Storm After the Calm: "Dear Father," "On Stage" and an instrumental piece titled "Aphrodisiac."

Shawna Kleban, a freshman majoring in international relations and a first-time listener of Jubala, especially liked "On Stage." "It had a lot of detailed guitar work that builds up to the vocals," she said.

Jubala also had the pleasure of performing a cover of "Superstition" with professional guitarist Randy Jacobs. Jacobs, who has played with stars such as B.B. King and Bonnie Raitt, jammed with the members and also performed a short guitar solo for fans.

Jubala also pulled songs from its second EP and tried out a new song, "Welcome to the Fall." Bursting with mellow build-ups that preceded intense guitar work, soulful lyrics and fast rhythms, it was a crowd favorite. The concert was also recorded for an upcoming live EP, which is set for a November release.

Manager David VanDerhoff, a junior majoring in music industry, said the band hopes to schedule some sort of musical tour overseas to further expand its live sounds to people around the world.

For Jubala, right now it seems the possibilities are endless.


Jubala will be back at the Ground Zero Coffeehouse Friday, Nov. 17 at 7:15 p.m. For more information, visit the band's Web site at www.myspace.com/jubalamusic. - Daily Trojan - University of Southern California

"Jubala featured on CU@USC"

In late 2006, Jubala was featured on:

"CU@USC" is a live, nightly talk show featuring a variety of guests from all arenas, including entertainment professionals, political leaders, academic researchers, and other prestigious individuals from the Los Angeles community and beyond.

As the premier college interview show in the nation, "CU@USC" has had an impressive line-up of guests. Former guests include film directors George Lucas, Robert Zemeckis, and Steven Spielberg, recording artist Fiona Apple, actors Tom Arnold, Alfred Molina, Jason Lee, and Patrick Stewart, composer John Williams, former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan, Nobel Prize Laureate George Olah, Chicago Cubs pitcher Mark Prior, acclaimed authors Michael Cunningham (Pulitzer Prize winner, "The Hours"), T.C. Boyle ("The Road to Welville"), and Eric Larson ("Devil in the White City"), television producers Josh Schwartz ("The O.C.") and Bill Lawrence ("Scrubs"), Broadway producer James D. Stern ("The Producers"), USC National Champion Football Coach Pete Carroll, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-CA.), and over four hundred distinguished others.

"CU@USC" has been a cornerstone show at Trojan Vision since 1997 and we take great pride in the fact that our guests have come back time and again to let us know what a great experience they had on our program. We are proud that, for the past three years, "CU@USC" has been voted the "Best Show" on Trojan Vision. - TrojanVision TV

"Jubala featured on Saturday Night Magazine compilation"

Jubala was selected as a featured artist on Saturday Night Magazine's music compilation for May 2008.

Being featured alongside artists such as the Counting Crows and The Submarines, this compilation will be distributed to colleges and universities across California. - Saturday Night Magazine


"storm after the calm ep" - october 2005
"welcome to the fall EP" - october 2007
"JUBALA - jubala" - october 2008




soulful and melodic. ambitious and intricate. stripped and sensitive. jubala makes music.

with borderline obsessive attention to detail, sam (vocals), chris (guitar), zack (bass) and new members trevor (keys) and derek (drums) have arrived to quench your auditory appetite with their weapons of sound.

arising from the forests of half moon bay, jubala first appeared during the spring of 2000 with a few of chris's flowing guitar riffs and long nights of pre-halo era battle. six years departed, not much has changed. members and friendships reinvented, college educations, and countless quest-filled nights later, jubala has reemerged with a the release of their new self-titled album full of more than 50 minutes of music.

jubala has arrived.