It seems as though spring is debutante season for North Carolina musicians. This time, it's Winston-Salem pair Jews and Catholics that sends forth their first full-length record, Who Are? We Think We Are! via Durham-based 307 Knox Records. It's not bad, but there is definite room for improvement.
Who Are? sounds a bit like the result of forcing members of Vampire Weekend into suits and ties and cubicles for eight hours a day. It has the same quickness and catchiness, but lacks the lightness, brevity, and overall carefree air that make Vampire Weekend enjoyable. Instead, Jews and Catholics mostly rely on minor chords and a pissed-off attitude to make a record that you finish with an "eh."
The album gets off to a weak start with the way too long "Dear Alexa". There is absolutely nothing wrong with six-minute songs, but if a band can't fill that space and keep a listener's interest, they shouldn't attempt to do so. "Dear Alexa" simply gets boring, leaving you bracing yourself for what may follow.
Things pick up with tracks like "Up for Days" and "Trouble One Trouble Two," though they arrive so late in the album that you may have already turned it off. As Eddie Garcia sings and plays guitar, Alanna Meltzer saws on an an upright bass, an element that both delights and confuses. It's an intriguing attempt at something different, even if it does at times sound like a swarm of musically inclined bees joined her in the studio.
Should you desire to pass judgment on Who Are? yourself, you won't be able to pick up a copy until May 25 when it will be available at record shops nationwide. Those of you around the Triangle can catch them tomorrow night, April 23 for their release show at Duke Coffeehouse with Mount Moriah and Gray Young.