Saturday, Sept. 21, 9 p.m.
Wine-Ohs, 811 1st St. S.W.
Some musicians keep their influences so well-hidden they’re close to invisible. When the leader of that acoustic bluegrass trio tells you he grew up listening to Black Sabbath, you have to wonder how all those heavy riffs and dark images morphed into mellifluous chording and hilltop harmonies.
Others, though, wear their influences overtly and with pride, leaving no doubt as to the source of their inspiration. The Jamies definitely fall into the latter category, with a sound that reveals a clear path back to the new wave of the early 1980s, when the Cars, Martha & the Muffins, the Motels and Quarterflash were on the charts.
But finding their way to that source and tapping into it was a bit of a journey for the Calgary six-piece, says lead singer and key songwriter Jamie Gould. Her namesake band releases its self-titled debut album with a show this Saturday at Wine-Ohs.
“I grew up listening to Linda Ronstadt and Blondie, and I’ve always really loved strong, hooky choruses and melodies,” Gould says. “I spent my 20s creating music that was, like, sad and floaty – but now I’m at the point in my life where I want to have fun with music, and I want people gto have fun listening to it.”
Even so, uncovering the new wave wellspring took time. “We were actually a roots band when we started recording the album,” she says. The Jamies’ sound evolved as band members left and were replaced; the addition of guitarist Greg Lamarche was the final piece in the puzzle.
“He is very much about an angular kind of guitar playing – like the Cars or the Talking Heads or the Police. And we were like, I think what we want to do is this kind of new wave pop. So it came together the way it should. This album was really about self-discovery.”
The album’s 10 tracks boast high production values and strong, confident musicianship. Guitars, synthesizers and Gould’s vocals, languid and at times almost detached – think Martha & the Muffins’ “Echo Beach” or the Motels’ “Suddenly Last Summer” – pay homage to those new wave influences, while the bass and drums provide a propulsive drive that gives the music a fresh dimension.
Along with Gould and Lamarche, the Jamies are guitarist Jay Nelson, bassist Jonathan Ahern, drummer Chuck Gould and keyboardist Cindy Go. “We’re all very passionate about making music – it’s a serious project,” Gould says. “I’m just happy to be able to play music, I like that people are listening to it, and then anything that happens beyond that is a blessing.”