Jules and the Jinks
by Zoe Mintz
Everyone remembers a few lucky occasions in which they accidentally discovered something magnificent. When you saw something that erased all the worrisome distracting preoccupations of your life and implanted itself into your consciousness. The kind of experience that transported you out of the mundane and into something magical.
It’s the kind of magic that happens often in New York. Maybe it’s bound to, by virtue of the magnitude and diversity of the population here. New York is a place where a Robyn dance party erupts out of nowhere in a subway station and where a rodent can be seen hauling a whole slice of pizza. And it’s the kind of place where one of my late-night walks through Harlem was interrupted by music that stopped me in my tracks, and led me down into the speakeasy-esque basement at Silvana’s.
When I saw her there, a prowling and howling vision of glory in a gleaming white leotard with the most impressive afro I have ever seen, she made me forget my friends, my drink, my name, and pretty everything else. My time was now hers. To watch Julissa Lopez and her band “get up for the down stroke” is to witness a Performance with a capital P-FUNK. You wants to get funked up.
I’ve seen many accomplished musicians sing and play but the most vividly imprinted memories always center around a performer who worked and raged and sweated onstage. The best ones are always the possessed ones.
Jules delivers. Jules works. Jules gets gone. And I lost myself watching her.
She is a sight to behold and the band is a wonder. Most of all, they’re pure fun.
Their debut EP Jules And The Jinks pulses with the sounds of their city. “Make You Cry” starts things off with a harmony-laden swagger reminiscent of a modernized version of the Crystals or the Ronettes. It’s Julissa Lopez right here and right now but you can almost hear Ronnie Spector singing the song in another world at a different time.
The sultry guitar and sax sound of “I’m Not Like That” brings to mind any of a million seduction scenes set in basement bars like the one I saw them in, the approach of closing time lending an urgency to the tension already strung tight between Erik Rosenberg and Will Lannon’s guitars and Gabriel Richards sax.
“No Compromise” keeps a punchy tension in the verse groove between, on the one hand, drummer Alex Durant and bassist Sami Buccella’s smooth but funky stutter step and on the other, its ringing sing-song-y guitar riff counterpoint. They balance each other under Julissa’s relaxed vocal until the chorus hits and her voice swells up and she just lets go against a wall of harmonies. It’s the celebration at the very center of the EP that never fails to remind me of the bundle of explosive joy I witnessed onstage that night in Harlem.
She twirled around the stage, tripping along the length of the beat, then spinning and gyrating down into the thump of the kick drum. I was mesmerized.
When it was over, all I wanted to do was talk to her and tell her how the music made me feel and how much she’d given me. I wanted to thank her but I felt entirely too shy. Unfortunately, I was with friends who teased me and convinced me to approach her. So I did. And I have to admit I geeked out. It wasn’t my greatest moment.
It’s at least some consolation that I got to make up for it a year later when I contacted her to invite them to play Underwater Sunshine. I felt slightly cooler as the rep for an indie music fest. If they only knew.
Jules and The Jinks give everything to the audience every time they hit the stage. What we’re giving you is the gift of seeing them play the Underwater Sunshine festival this Saturday, April 6. You’ll see. It’s a dream.