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JuJu: Indie Psychedelic Rock by Way of Italy

JuJu…by way of a meandering introduction to Fuzz Club Records.

As you may or may not know, I am a fan of independent record companies. I love the now defunct Sarah Records and Great Pop Supplement labels. I have had subscriptions to record services such as Graveface Records and Saint Marie Records.

One of my current subscriptions is to Fuzz Club records based in the UK. They send me the featured album every month pressed on exclusive colour vinyl. To use their own words (via their YouTube channel): “Fuzz Club is an independent record label, online store and production company that focuses on experimental rock and roll, influenced by shoegaze, electronica, noise, garage, blues, folk and psychedelia”. They also been known to present albums that feature Drone, Dark Wave and Heavy Psyche. Some of these styles may not be familiar to you, and that’s ok, I would be surprised if you did know all of these styles! (Hell, I would want to hire you to write for this blog, since you obviously know something about a lot of different musical styles, haha!)

Essentially, these are offshoots of rock that tend to be a little heavier and or noisier than what ends up being spoon fed to the masses on the radio. They also tend to be a bit more experimental. It is difficult to generalize the sounds coming out of Fuzz Club because, although they are all linked in some intangible way, they are also unique. Some feature heavy distorted guitars, some feature long passages of repeated noise, some feature chanting, some are instrumental, some are electronic, some are purely guitar based. One thing that I do like, however, is that many many of the artists, no matter what part of the “heavy” spectrum they land on, incorporate what is typically considered to be dance sounds and beats.

Many of the Fuzz Club artists I like tend to be are more dance-able, if that makes any sense. Something about their music makes you move your body as you listen. They are not afraid to experiment with sound, synthesizers, electronics, tribal chants… you name it. A lot of the sounds coming out from the grooves of a Fuzz Club record are mind blowing.

Fuzz Club releases albums on their own imprint, carry select vetted offerings from other labels, and they also release a curated more-or-less annual double LP collection called “Reverb Conspiracy” which features artists from around the world who are involved in the creation of the styles of music that Fuzz Club specializes in.

I love the Reverb Conspiracy collections and I have all of them (EDIT: the latest so far being 2021’s “The Reverb Conspiracy Volume Seven”). One of the things I love about these collections is that there is always something on there that inspires me to search out the artists’ other work. I have discovered quite a few amazing, relatively unknown bands via the Reverb Conspiracy collections. (OH! Have I mentioned Frankie and the Witch Fingers or Sonic Jesus yet??)

One of the artists that Fuzz Club was initially curating released their second album, and now their third album on the Fuzz Club imprint proper. I am talking about JuJu.

JuJu is actually the name of a band that is the brainchild of a Sicilian multi-instrumentalist named Gioele Valenti. What started out as a one-man project has evolved into a full touring band, and they have performed shows throughout Europe.

JuJu, the band, is a form of expression for Valenti (formerly of LayLlamas, and Herself). According to the artist, “JuJu is an exploration of our relationship with the earth, and how it is increasingly confrontational and strained”. The music features shamanic chanting, tribal drumming, rhythmic guitars, driving bass and locked groove vibes. Despite the fact that you will feel yourself moving to the music, don’t mistake it for “dance music”… think a happier Joy Division participating in a pagan ritual with a soundtrack provided by Kraftwerk, The Rolling Stones, and early Smashing Pumpkins. If that doesn’t peak your curiosity, you might need CPR because you’re dead! 😉

This music is 60s style psychedelia brought into the twenty-first century and given a thoroughly modern twist. It can get you grooving and moving, or guide you on a meditation, often within the same song. It will get you rocking, and shaking your head, but it will, essentially, ask you to think about your place in the world.

My first introduction to JuJu was the track “Bring ‘Em War” which was featured on the Reverb Conspiracy Volume Five. I loved the sound and energy of the song, so I investigated a bit and realised that, as a musical enterprise, JuJu has a consistent and consistently good vibe. I ended up buying all three albums, and enjoyed them end to end… (well, there was one track I didn’t like, but I’ll leave you to figure out which one it was!) You won’t be disappointed.

To see if JuJu might be up your alley, check out the driving bass in the track “Patrick” (from their second album “Our Mother Was a Plant”) and the sing-song chorus in “God is a Rover” from their latest outing, “Maps and Territories“.

Maybe it isn’t for everybody…but it blew me away and I hope you like it!

Digitally, their albums are all available via Bandcamp, though some of the physical products (vinyl and CD) are sold out. (EDIT: Their Latest offering “La Que Sabe” from October 2021 is brilliant, as is the collaboration with The Lay Llamas from 2021 “Flag of Breeze“!)

Please like and share this post if it brought you some joy! Remember to invite your friends to like us!

Here are two Spotify playlists for you: a JuJu playlist that I created for you, and as a bonus, a playlist of various artists as curated by Fuzz Club themselves… ENJOY!

Scroll down to check out the full albums on Bandcamp.

 

Below are the full-length releases from JuJu (via Bandcamp).

These albums are all available via different sources, so they’re not always easy to find…. which is why I’ve gathered them together for you in one convenient spot! Remember: support the artist and buy them directly from Bandcamp!

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