What happens when a bunch of Boston folks relocate to San Francisco? Well, if they don’t end up working at a convenience store, they’ll probably start a band. Oh, who am I kidding? Probably both!
7-11 Jesus has the aforementioned biography (minus the resume builder of cashiering at a 76) and consists of vocalist and guitarist August Darula, bassist Emma Jacobson, and drummer, synther, and general handy person, Kieran Gill. Not all of the members hale from Boston, but you wouldn’t know that from listening to their debut album, Tree Dream. The skronky bite and lick of the hairy fire-hazard “5Hits” feels like a shoegazy, punch-up of Dinosaur Jr’s lazy-eyed psychedelia. But I would be selling them short if I said that this was their only identifiable influence, or the only applicable comparison.
If you asked the band directly, I’m sure they’d fess up to having a few copies of Bug between them, but oddly enough, it’s not another Bostonian whose name percolates up in my memory when listening to 7-11 Jesus. Instead, it’s fellow East Coaster and NYC denizen, Porches. This is especially true on slower tracks like “Talk Show Host” and “Two Hands.” I think this is owed to the lethargic, taffy pull that takes place with the vocal melodies on these and other tracks. Where ever word feels like it being pried out between clenched teeth and rolled around a branch to create enough tension in the thread to pull out the next syllable from betwixt stingy, pursed lips. This is reaching for inferences rather than inspirations, though.
A group who definitely leaves their mark on 7-11 Jesus’s own sonic signature, are fur-brained garage rockers and noise jockeys Kal Marks. Those static shoveler’s depressive clash of cavernous reverb and anxious, whining guitars, are threaded throughout prickly tussles like “Badman,” and the arduous drag and flog of “Soft Brian.” The influence of noise rock is inked into the flesh of Tree Dream in ways that leave little question as to whether distortions in sound and flagging fidelity are intentional (Note: they are!). Even on quieter cuts like the opener “Tried So Hard” and the relatively hook juiced “Kill Your Friends,” there is a trepidatious growl that shivers in the background, conveying a feeling of disquiet even as you lean into the charm and affability of August’s vocal performance and the glide of the Emma and Kieran’s easy, get-along grooves.
For an album that could just be a bunch of people fucking around and farting out a release on Bandcamp, Tree Dream it’s surprisingly nuanced and a promising first LP for this young band. 7-11 Jesus aren’t just a bunch of burnouts singing about burnout stuff, and Tree Dream is as good a place as any to for them to start putting down some roots. I’m not saying this album is a miracle or anything, but I think it could be your savior… from boredom at least. I don’t know what else you need saving from, and I’m not in the mood to speculate either.
You can stream the entirety of 7-11’s Tree Dream below via Bandcamp: