A lot has changed in the two years since Tucson rock group Annie Jump Cannon last performed, especially for a band so aligned with youthful energy and anger. Aside from the pandemic and all its upending of the music industry, the trio signed to national label No Sleep Records, shuffled some members, and recorded a new album. Fans of the local punk and indie scene can hear the new album performed live on the same day it releases when Annie Jump Can- non takes the stage at downtown’s Club Congress on Friday, March 4.
The new album, Flourishing Apart, expands nearly everything from their debut album, 2020’s Worst Day Ever. Not only are the instrumentals and production stronger, the album revolves around a more robust concept. But perhaps most important, the songs cover broader styles. While Flourishing Apart still has a solid foundation in punk and emo —fitting snugly within the No Sleep roster —the album also has more relaxed and acoustic songs.
“The diversity comes from my writing process, because I don’t try to fit into a style when I write songs,” said vocalist and guitarist Rory Membrila. “It’s just however it ends up sounding. And I think with the last song, which is acoustic, I was listening to a lot of older stuff like Ella Fitzgerald and songs from the ’50s, so I pulled a lot of inspiration from that.”
The album orbits a lost relationship from the opening line: “you can call and we can talk.” The first track begins as a sparse acoustic song, but more powerful guitar strokes and layered vocals gradually add energy before the whole thing takes off on the line “I can’t protect you when I’m the one who needs protecting.” Though Membrila says most of the album is “love and breakup songs,” there are plenty of humorous and inwardly pointed lines, like “I don’t ever want to have a baby, because then I’ll have to stop being a baby.”
Further into the tracklist, the themes reach into various types of relationships. There are also references to the general unease of the past few years, including mention of the Bighorn Fire that burnt thousands of acres around Tucson in summer 2020. Membrila says the album’s songs were written over multiple years, with some of them “a long time coming.” However, thanks to a fairly consistent musical tone, these lyrics still manage to feel connected to a central concept.
“It’s about a pretty specific relationship. But it’s funny, because the line I pulled ‘flourishing apart’ from wasn’t about a relationship with a significant other,” Membrila said. “I had originally written it about my siblings. But so many of the songs are love songs or breakup songs mostly about a specific someone. But other songs are about relationships in general or the relationship with myself.”
A clear standout is “Moth,” a subdued pop song that works as a kind of palate cleanser in the middle of the album. Muted guitars and tight drums work well to accompany the imagery of lovers as a moth and light. The song also features some of Membrila’s best vocal work on the album, jumping between high and low registers with ease.
Annie Jump Cannon, which takes their name from an 1800s astronomer, recorded Flourishing Apart in New Jersey in October 2020. The album features Membrila on vocals and guitar, their brother Logan on bass, and Jake Cowen on drums. The band was between lead guitarists for the recording session, so that duty was split up.
“I played some lead on the album, but I don’t consider myself someone who can shred on guitar,” Membrila said. “So it was really good to have Chris Freeman from Hot Mulligan co-produce the album, because we worked together on leads and played some of them... Getting signed was a game-changer for us.”
Flourishing Apart releases on the same day as the Hotel Congress show. Also on the roster that night are fellow Tucson rockers The Sinks and Flagsta band Tiny Bird. “There’s just been a lot of maturing since our first album, both in our music and ourselves. And honestly, there’s been plenty of maturing since Flourishing Apart and now,” Membrila said. “I don’t even know what the next album is going to be about, because it used to be so easy to write angsty or self-deprecating songs, but honestly I’m doing pretty good right now.”