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The Junior Varsity

By: Emily Zemler

While their moniker suggests a bunch of scrubs in ill-fitting uniforms, Illinois’ the Junior Varsity are anything but second best. Initially formed by guitarist Andy Wildrick in 2002, the Junior Varsity played hundreds of shows, and released an EP and full-length before signing with hard-hitter Victory Records. Now, with a new album out on the Chicago-based indie label, the Junior Varsity are out to prove they’re the best squad in school.

The album, entitled Wide Eyed, reflects the emo-rock sound so many Victory bands have recently been perfecting, which is not surprising considering it was produced by Matt Squire, known for his work with Midtown and the Explosion. Although the group cites bands like Yes, Radiohead, and American Football as influences, they blast out emotive pop songs that recall fellow Victory acts Spitalfield and Hawthorne Heights. Fully melodic and (thankfully) without a hint of screamo, Wide Eyed is composed of eleven charging songs that eagerly embrace the pop side of punk rock.

Lyrically, the JV happily avoids generic boy-girl drama, a trait that sets them apart from their peers at times when the music does not. Referencing pop culture and mythology, the Junior Varsity even crafted one song as commentary to a Girls Gone Wild commercial. But that doesn’t make them clowns: The fivesome, which currently includes guitarist Wildrick, bassist and singer Asa Dawson, guitarist Sergio Coronado, drummer Chris Birch, and keyboardist Nick Dodson, insist that their band is the most important thing in their lives. Now that’s team spirit.

Wide Eyed was released July 12 on Victory. The Junior Varsity will be hitting the road this summer as part of the New Faces from Difference Places tour with labelmates the Hurt Process, Aiden, and the Audition.

Junior Varsity tour dates:

7/26-27, Wilmington, NC (Soapbox Lounge) 7/28, Atlanta, GA (Under The Couch)7/29, Jacksonville, FL (Thee Imperial)7/30, Orlando, FL (Backbooth)7/31, Tampa, FL (Orpheum)8/2, Old Town Spring, TX (Java Jazz Coffee House)8/3, Dallas, TX (The Door)8/4, San Antonio, TX (White Rabbit)8/5, El Paso, TX (House Of Rock & Roll)8/6, Phoenix, AZ (Modified)8/7, San Diego, CA (Epicenter)8/9, Las Vegas, NV (The Clubhouse)8/10, Anaheim, CA (Chain Reaction)8/11, Bakersfield, CA (Jerry’s Pizza)8/12, Fresno, CA (Big Game Studios)8/13, OrangeVale, CA (Boardwalk)8/17, Tacoma, WA (Hell’s Kitchen)8/18, Boise, ID (The Venue)8/19, Salt Lake City, UT (Lo-Fi Cafe)8/20, Boulder, CO (Club 156)8/21, Lawrence, KS (The Bottleneck)8/22, W. Dundee, IL (Clearwater Theatre)9/3, Chicago, IL (Metro)

Link: Junior Varsity official site

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