Rock Discoveries

Alex Schaaf

Of all the little-known indie bands that I have been introduced to over the years, there is not one that has stuck with me as much as Jump, Little Children. I first heard of them when I saw a vocal jazz group cover their song “Cathedrals.”
After being amazed at the sheer beauty of the song, I downloaded the original by Jump, Little Children, and was even more blown away. From there I discovered the rest of their catalog quickly, and I’ve never looked back.
Formed in 1994 in North Carolina, the band is led by Jay Clifford, who I confidently label as one of my top three favorite rock vocalists of all time, sharing company with Thom Yorke and Jeff Buckley.
Clifford clearly gets inspiration from both of those artists, but none can match Clifford’s wide range of style, switching from a delicate falsetto to an in-your-face attack with nothing lost in between.
The band’s first studio album was “Magazine,” released in 1998. The single “Cathedrals” received much radio play, as well as being featured on the soundtrack to the television drama series “Everwood.”
But besides that clear masterpiece, the album is one of the rare ones in my library that I can listen to in its entirety, without skipping around to the “good songs.”
From the infectious energy of the opener, “Not Today,” to the delicate “Say Goodnight” and “Close Your Eyes” that close the album, the band never relents with its stunning beauty and brilliant lyrical work.
It is hard to classify Jump, Little Children, as is any band these days. The songs go from guitar-driven rock to delicate ballads to the occasional quirky spoken-word song, such as “Body Parts” and “Habit.”
The band went on to release “Vertigo,” which caught them at their artistic peaks, with many brilliant orchestral arrangements and more “epic” songs than those found on “Magazine.”
“Cathedrals” is still the song that I go back to again and again, and would recommend to anyone that has not heard of the band. Clifford’s voice is at its ultimate finest, and the song captures the beauty of the band in ways that no other song can come close.
Almost all of the members met at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, and their classical influences sometimes make their way to the surface, leading to an awe-inspiring combination of trained musicianship and a simple “we want to rock” attitude.
Sadly, like many bands I have come across, I discovered them too late. Jump, Little Children played their last show in December of 2005.
They released a live album from that show in 2006, which was mixed by Clifford, and offered even more looks into the band’s talent.
However, their amazing past cannot be erased, barring extreme circumstances, so Clifford’s voice can still strike awe in the hearts of many generations to come.