"Cinematographic" (Victory Records; 2007)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton


There are reasons to like alternative pop rock and there are reasons to hate it. You'll find both on The Junior Varsity's "Cinematographic."

The good: The band's songwriting is exceptional. The lyrics are bright and insightful, while the song patterns and styles are familiar yet boast enough surprises to hold your interest.

The bad: The vocal style here has been so overused by so many bands that it too often feels tepid and cliche, especially when the band has turned up the heat. The slower songs actually work better on "Cinematographic," as on "Wunderdrug" and the cool lounge sound of the title track. 

The good news for fans is that The Junior Varsity is back and have delivered another album that should meet their expectations. The bad news for non-fans is that there's nothing really knew here that might lure you to the band if you weren't fond of their previous releases.

The Junior Varsity: Andy Wildrick - guitars; Asa Dawson - vocals, bass guitar; Nick Dodson - Synths, keyboards, saxophone; Sergio Coronado - Guitars; Chris Birch - drums.

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"Wide Eyed" (Victory Records; 2005)

Reviewed by Mike SOS


Riding the emo pop punk wave are The Junior Varsity, an Illinois quintet whose 11-track debut stays the course in terms of providing safe, non-provocative melodic rock suitable for your girlfriend's record collection.

Tracks like the contagious album opener, "Get Comfortable," gets you set for slightly spacey rock riffs with a focus on laying down a good hook and catchy vocal line. "When We Met as Aliens" emits the kind of vibe Brand New may have if trading places with Dashboard Confessional, while the melancholic feel of "Saltwater Foundation" radiates a rock waltz that you may hear on a WB melodrama.

Using (though not to excessively) a synth player within the mainframe of the band gives The Junior Varsity a broader range, though not by much, as the band's initial impression of being a shoegazer outfit trapped in a power punk package doesn't stray for the entire record.

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"The Great Compromise" (Victory Records; 2003)

Reviewed by Mike SOS


"The Great Compromise," the debut disc by Illinois emo outfit The Junior Varsity, gets the re-release treatment courtesy of Victory Records, who pack a bunch of bonus tracks and alternative versions as well as a DVD in to sweeten the deal and give the fans the biggest bang for their buck. 

But don't expect as much quality over quantity here, unless you're a huge fan of the group's innocuously bland alternapunk phase that, while crafted with great care, gives off an indifferently unmemorable vibe. 

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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