Author: Shaye Graves
Twenty-two-year-old San Franciscan Melina Duterte has been discreetly self-releasing lo-fi bedroom pop music on the internet under the moniker Jay Som for years. After catching the attention of Polyvinyl Record Company, Duterte was able to give her collection of demos, Turn Into, a proper release this past July. While Turn Into was met with critical acclaim, Jay Som’s debut full-length and first official album, Everybody Works, set the bar even higher with its release earlier this month.
Everybody Works received a lofty 8.6 rating from Pitchfork, cementing its status as best new music and Duterte’s as an artist headed for greatness. “Duterte’s careful, wise, and excellent album is the rare debut that expands the borders of a genre,” the article said. “It’s not bedroom-pop because it sounds a certain way, but because it feels so intimate.”
Madison was lucky enough to experience Duterte’s musical brilliance first hand when she graced the Frequency last Tuesday with her touring band. Though they shared the stage with co-headliner The Courtneys and opener Disq, the spotlight belonged unequivocally to Jay Som.
It’s always fun when you get the chance to see a great band play as intimate a show as Jay Som was able to. Apparently Madison hasn’t quite caught up with the hype surrounding Duterte, as she was able to hang out indistinguishable from the rest of the small crowd to watch Disq perform before her set. Then it was her turn to play, and the unassuming girl in the crowd became a mesmerizing rock goddess right before our eyes.
The first words out of Duterte’s lips were praise for local loves Disq’s age-defying talent. “You guys are babies,” Duterte joked sweetly. “So good! When I was watching I thought, ah, we can’t follow them!”
As it turns out, Jay Som could probably follow just about any act and still steal the show. Duterte’s backing band sounded just as tight as her recordings in which Duterte plays every instrument herself. She took us to another realm during show highlight “Baybe”, soaking the room with saccharine bass hooks the crowd couldn’t help but sway to.
Vancouver trio The Courtneys capped off the night. Their bright, striking pop tunes, delivered unfailingly with a combo of directness and vigor from singer/drummer Jen Twnn Payne, were initially enticing. The songs “Silver Velvet”, “Tour” and “Minnesota” were particularly fun jams, but after about twenty minutes listening, I itched for some variation and found myself wishing Jay Som had been the closing act. While there’s certainly something to be said for the luster of The Courtneys, I could have let Jay Som envelop me with at least twice as much of Duterte’s floaty, quirky and unpredictable melodies before nearing satisfaction.