It’s easy to make a comparison between Ypsilanti duo Junglefowl and the White Stripes, as even Junglefowl’s own publicity materials do. Both bands play raw, blues-influenced garage rock, and both are composed of a girl, a guy, a guitar, and a drum kit. But if anything, Junglefowl flips the now-iconic Stripes formula on its head in a couple of key ways—most importantly, in the dynamic between drummer Melissa Coppola and guitarist Stefan Carr. Where Meg White was famously withdrawn, willing to blend into the background while her “brother” Jack White hogged the spotlight, Coppola clearly comes off as the boss of this band. She starts each song with a long look at Carr, awaiting his readiness before counting off with her drumsticks and throwing herself into the music. Coppola drums with furious energy and delivers Junglefowl’s originals with a defiant, powerful howl—although she also summons a stirring, soulful moan for the band’s slow-boiling cover of Muddy Waters’ classic “Got My Mojo Working.” It’s all something of a shocking departure for those familiar with the fine folk harmonies Coppola contributed to her previous band, Match By Match. In this duo, she is the force to be reckoned with.
While Coppola draws the most attention, that’s certainly no slight against Carr’s talent or his contribution to Junglefowl’s sound. Carr fits the Meg White role when it comes to showmanship, mostly content to hunch his tall, wiry frame over his guitar, a lengthy shock of bangs often obscuring his face. But his sound is all personality. With his guitar tone fuzzed out to the max, Carr alternates between charging punk power chords, down-and-dirty blues riffs, and the occasional rumble of low-register heavy-metal thunder. Although he’s young, Carr has already done time with Detroit rock royalty, playing regularly in the Witches with Troy Gregory of the Dirtbombs. With Carr’s high-caliber guitar chops, it’s easy to see why Gregory and the other older rockers in the Witches brought him on board.
This duo plays garage rock, and they’ve got the scuzzy, stomping, swaggering sound to prove it. Although garage rock originated as an outlet for inexperienced players to express themselves musically in a simple way, Coppola and Carr are both full-time music teachers who come at the genre not out of necessity but out of love for its energy and sheer fun. As noted above, there’s quite an amalgam of discernible genres mixed into Junglefowl’s overall garage sound, but the most important influence Carr and Coppola add to the mix is a professional pop songwriter’s ear for strong musical hooks. These songs are raw, sure, but they’re also eminently well-crafted and well-performed by a pair of resourceful musicians. Junglefowl’s musical acumen is already in bloom, and they’re just getting started.
Junglefowl plays the Crossroads Bar and Grill on Friday, July 3 and the Blind Pig on Thursday, July 9.