Jupiter Affect

Instructions for the Two Ways of Becoming Alice

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Ever wish for a true follow-up to the early works by the Three O'Clock? As was so sadly predictable in those days, the quartet's move to a major label bogged them down in slicker production, diluting their delights. After the band split, singer/mainman Michael Quercio spent time in Game Theory and Permanent Green Light. By 1997, he was back leading his own band with Jupiter Affect. The notable event is the return of early Three O'Clock producer Earle Mankey, who made those early works so fresh. From Instructions, it's clear this collaboration still clicks. A number of songs are as good as anything the pair managed years ago. Few people have a deeper knowledge of the amazing records of the '60s, let alone the ability to re-create them with modern engineering, without sounding pathetically retro. Mankey makes the guitars and Quercio's boyish Anglo voice pop out of the speakers. Quercio succeeds thanks to a large artistic grasp and sharp knack for melodies. He may never have written a song that couldn't have been released in 1967, but he's also written few songs that couldn't have been a Top 40 hit then, despite his clutch of styles. You never know what '60s-esque style is coming next, but you know you're going to like it. This is not nostalgia; this is a strong band that turns the most familiar into the exciting, as all good rock/pop always does. Instructions is bursting with uptempo pop joys, personality, and spark. It might even be better than Three O'Clock, as it never gets cloying or too similar to the Rutles or the Dukes of Stratosphear. Hell, it might be Quercio's most energized work since the Three O'Clock's early days as the Salvation Army.

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