Sure, the Berklee College Of Music gave us the Click Five (if you're reading this a few years in the future, it's okay to ask, "Who?"), but don't hold that against it: If it weren't for the institution, we likely never would have had Boston trio Jejune, who formed in the school's halls in 1995 before moving to San Diego in 1997. The band delivered an extremely unique take on the mid-’90s emo style of the time, adding in powerful, vulnerable boy/girl vocals from guitarist Joe Guevara and bassist Arabella Harrison, as well as excellent drumming from Chris Vanacore.
Most people's first introduction to Jejune was through "Hialeah," the track they contributed to Deep Elm's classic compilation The Emo Diaries, Vol. 1 in 1997:
That same year, the band released their debut album, Junk, on Boston-based label Big Wheel Recreation. Unlike boy/girl emo scenemates Rainer Maria, who were busy channeling the chaos and catharsis of the Midwest on their early releases, the sound Jejune cultivated on the eight-song record was a punkier, amps-turned-to-11 take on emo, that wasn't afraid to deliver a damn fine hook. Check out "Greyscale," the disc's best track (and a hell of a breakup song):
The following year, the band teamed up with a then-underground Jimmy Eat World for a split single (also on Big Wheel Rec) that was nothing short of explosive. Jejune's two contributions, "That's Why She Hates Me" and "The Early Stars," showed the band developing a stronger knack for shoegazer emo as well as better control of vocal harmonies and interplay.
A live version of "That's Why She Hates Me" from the Bifocal Media VHS release The Actuality Of Thought, which also featured classic live clips from Braid, Piebald, the Get Up Kids, the Promise Ring and more—you need to track this videotape down!
"The Early Stars" is unarguably Jejune's finest moment: an absolutely perfect pop song written within the ever-evolving parameters of emo in the late ’90s. The version below, taken from the band's 2000 retrospective R.I.P., is a different mix than the version on the split 7-inch, and is sadly inferior. Still, you can hear the power and majesty in this track:
But just as the band were mastering the boy/girl emo aesthetic, they threw everyone for a loop with their sophomore (and final) album, This Afternoon's Malady. Released on Big Wheel Rec in October 1998, the album had a much stronger Brit-pop influence, with even more shoegazer elements mixed in with some serious effects-pedal abuse. As is often the case with bands of this nature, their evolution went largely unnoticed at best, shunned at worst. Yet the songs were consistently strong and well-developed—they just couldn't find a proper audience.
It didn't help matters that the record was delayed for a number of months, leaving the band to play new songs like the one below for months on the road with no studio release available for people for which to fully absorb them:
The band added second guitarist Mark Murino in 1999 to beef up their live sound and began working on material for a follow-up to Malady, but before they could complete an album, the quartet called it quits at the turn of the century. They left behind a woefully truncated discography full of truly phenomenal songs that are worthy of your attention.
After the breakup, Guevara, Murino and Vanacore formed Lovelight Shine, an attitude-laden glam-rock band with nods to David Bowie and T. Rex. Their debut EP, Makes Out, was released on Big Wheel Rec the same year, and is worth tracking down; they were last heard from in 2003. Guevara currently plays piano for soul group Lady Dottie & The Diamonds. Vanacore now drums for Dirty Sweet, a band he founded with Murino (who no longer plays in the group). Harrison joined indie-pop group the And/Ors for one record, 2001's Will Self Destruct; she now is a solo artist and commercial jingle writer.
Despite all four members still living in San Diego and appearing to be on relatively good terms with one another, Jejune haven't played together in more than a decade. Here's to hoping that will change one day.