About the AJs

Kali + MattThe Ascetic Junkies are a pop band with more than a passing interest in Americana, noise, and psychedelic song structure quirks. Comprised of Kali Giaritta and Matt Harmon (and various other musicians through the years), we tend to surprise audiences with how much sound, energy and intricacy we create with only two people. The band has its roots in a merging of rock and folk, but after self-releasing an album in 2008, we started indulging in the pop/Americana/indie realm. Since then, we’ve tried our best to constantly evolve our sonic palette without losing the core focus of our sound, which has been made easier by the distinct sound of our dual-lead-vocal center and shape-shifting, psychedelic songwriting ethic; lately, we have a fondness for writing songs in a more through-composed fashion than a standard verse-chorus-repeat style. We have been fortunate enough to gather recent fond comparisons within the pop world as diverse as The New Pornographers, The Dodos, The Dirty Projectors, and Apollo Sunshine.

Through the last 4 years, we’ve self-released 2 albums and seen a 3rd released on Portland indie label Timber Carnival Records, toured all over the country, and had the pleasure of sharing the stage with such national acts as Nicole Atkins, Warpaint, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, and Asobi Seksu. We’ve also received several honors on our home turf (Portland, OR), including having tracks featured on the prestigious PDX Pop Now! compilation and Tender Loving Empire’s “Friends and Friends of Friends Vol. 4″, and having a self-produced music video highlighted and screened at NW Film Fest.

2012 found us touring more than ever, recording a lot of new electrified material that intentionally sits on the border between “really catchy” and “pretty weird”, and taking in the sights while driving back and forth across the country to bring our tunes to fans in towns big and small. We are planning on staying out on the road as much as possible in 2013, and releasing a collection of new songs that we’re very proud of.

If you want to talk to us, feel free to send an email to asceticjunkies [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thanks for poking around our site!


“The Portland-based quintet, has never pretended to be anything other than playful, and that playful irreverence makes their frenetic virtuosity all the more impressive, most especially in concert… [the Junkies] demonstrate a proclivity for pop gymnastics, not unlike the variety which has earned the Dirty Projectors some of their praise.” -JOE CLINKENBEARD, SPECTRUM CULTURE

“[This Cage Has No Bottom] takes all the things that were already charming about the Junkies — sweet harmonies from Matt Harmon and Kali Giaritta; jaunty melodies that tie pop sensibilities through Americana footstomps; a careful blend of smarts, sincerity and cleverness that keeps the big-heartedness from tipping into sugary-sweetness — and tightens it all up. The songs feel quicker to come into focus, and there’s new confidence in the songwriting, which, this time, involved all the Junkies (as opposed to just Harmon and Giaritta). There’s not a weak track to be found, but if I had to play favorites, I’d point you at “The Eyeball,” with its circling, pulsing closing section, and “Renegade Salesman,” which closes Cage with banjo, uplift and a nudging optimism.” -MOLLY TEMPLETON, EUGENE WEEKLY

This Cage Has No Bottom has the feeling of a modern life put to song, hymns made for and among good friends doing their best in the here and now.” -MARANDA BISH, PORTLAND MERCURY

“A mix of tuneful percussion, fingerstyle guitar, banjo, and layered vocals, The Ascetic Junkies are pop-inflected hipsters with more than a passing interest in Americana. The band might be a little hard to pigeon-hole stylistically, but all the better: good music is good music.” -MARK STEIGHNER, REDIVIVA.COM

“…The Ascetic Junkies are one of the first bands to reinterpret bluegrass, a genre known for complacency, into something new and totally exciting. On the band’s sophomore album, The Cage Has No Bottom, the Junkies use genres like a game of four square, jumping from more traditional bluegrass to straight pop and more experimental flair, sometimes in the middle of the same song. The effect is initially a bit disorienting—imagine spending an afternoon in a museum after drinking a few too many glasses of red wine—but it creates some arresting pop moments.” -MICHAEL MANNHEIMER, WILLAMETTE WEEK

“Refusing to be pigeonholed, quintet the Ascetic Junkies intermingles bluegrass with modern pop and rock in a way that keeps toes tapping.” -WILLAMETTE WEEK LOCAL CUT

“[CLATTERING INDIE FOLK] With more and more bands in town learning about the power of acoustic instruments, we should be thankful they can wrench some great sounds out of them. The quintet known as the Ascetic Junkies does just that by introducing the stomping joy of bluegrass and country into its navel-gazing pop (à la Tilly and the Wall but without that silly tap dancing thing). The resulting music, as heard on the band’s debut, One Shoe Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, has quickly marked it as one of the best young groups in Portland.” -ROBERT HAM, WILLAMETTE WEEK

“(Windows Sell the House is) a great example of the modern bluegrass music that’s been growing all over the country, from the deepest deltas of bluegrass country to the edges of the country, like Portland, Oregon… One of the things I love so much about modern independent music is that there are no genre restrictions. You can have a song called “Dracula” and not be goth. You can be from Portland and play bluegrass. It’s a cool new world, as far as music is considered… The Ascetic Junkies have solved the problem of always being locked out. They now have no doors or walls.” -CERULEAN’S LOVE OF MUSIC

“…what sticks out most is the fun they create no matter how slow chords move or how quick the spoons clap. One Shoe Over The Cuckoo’s Nest brilliantly comes off as vocalists Kali Giaritta and Matt Harmon’s ultimate love letter to one another.” -RON TREMBATH, FENSEPOST

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