Jungle Green Credit: Kristin Deitrich

Last winter singer-songwriter Andrew Smith posted flyers around Chicago to promote the oh-so-sweet solo recordings he’d made as Jungle Green, and he’s since completely transformed his bedroom project into a six-piece band. The lineup is fleshed out with friends Smith made as a student at Columbia College, including Mattie McCall, Adam Miller, Adam Obermeier, Alex Heaney, and Emma Collins—each of whom plays an assortment of instruments. Smith released Jungle Green’s full-band debut, Space Cadet, via his Atlantic City Melodies imprint in October. On the EP, Smith and his pals punch up some of the sickly-sweet, lovelorn ditties he released on his own into richer, meatier songs and deliver some new material; the whole record is built on lean rhythmic backbones, gently upbeat rock melodies, and the occasional warmhearted vocal harmony. As a front man, Smith keeps the vulnerable, lovey-dovey essence of his intimate solo recordings intact, such as when he stretches his voice into its upper register during his tender turn on the forlorn “It’s Raining Outside.” Live, Jungle Green churn out the simple, catchy songs, keeping each melody tight while allowing space for Smith to wander vocally and physically; when I saw them play the Logan Square Food Truck Social in August, he sang the Velvet Underground-inflected ripper “Happiness” while meandering around on the pavement in front of the stage and playing hacky sack with omnipresent festival personality Matthew Churney (aka “hacky sack guy”).   v