CD Review – July Talk

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July Talk’s self-titled album begins in a really frustrating way, with the song The Garden, which is an upbeat blues rock song. It’s catchy, upbeat, and a seemingly enjoyable tune, but frankly, blues rock just needs to die. I understand its historical necessity to modern music, but seriously, we need to stop writing songs around the 12 bar blues progression. I’d argue that playing blues rock in 2012 is far more banal than anything on Z99. The only difference is stylistic preferences. Both are incredibly formulaic – even an improvised guitar solo in a blues rock song can be more or less predicted as to where it’s going to go. It’s a cop out. Anyone can write an infinite amount of songs around this structure. Any blues lick on this album has been played countless times before by countless different artists, and the same is true for blues rock in general.

This album’s actually pretty alright when it stays away from heavily leaning on the band’s blues influences. Its fine to be influenced by the blues, but when “influence” becomes doing the same thing that’s been done since the early part of the twentieth century, your music becomes expectedly boring.

Another qualm with the album is Peter Dreimanis’ voice at times. We get it. You drink whiskey. You probably smoke. You’re a big, burly dude. But, I’m calling bullshit that you sing in the shower like that. Sometimes it sounds like he’s about to go into a really awesome scream, and I’m sure his voice would actually work well with something like that, but he never quite goes all the way. For example, if he really pushed his voice – it’s not like singing as he does is doing his vocal chords any favours anyways – and went up the octave at the end of Guns + Ammunition, the song would benefit greater than merely repeating the vocal melody – especially since the melody is simply quarter notes that don’t change pitch.

The album’s highpoint comes with the fifth song, Someone; it’s much more driving and engaging than any of the tracks previous to it, and July Talk does improve after this song, but none quite match the energy of Someone. With that said though, the album’s closing track, I’ve Rationed Well, is probably the best song on this album. This is how you utilize a scratchy male voice and indulge a blues influence without being boring. Dreimanis clearly has a vocal style that is best suited to low registers, so play to those strengths; the notes that he sings in that song are frighteningly low, and it’s pretty haunting.

July Talk does a few interesting things, but there are far more boring songs than really interesting ones. It finishes in a nice way, but a solid closing song and a few in the middle can’t prop up July Talk from the rest of the mediocrity that brings this album down.

Paul Bogdan
A&C Editor

7 comments

  1. Chiefer10 13 July, 2013 at 16:10

    The 12 bar blues progression isn’t dead, nor will it ever be. I don’t know how much blues you listen to, but I would hazard a guess, as very little. Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks and many others are reinventing the blues, all the time. The solo’s are anything but predictable, and very tastefully done. As for your comments based on this album, I find it hard to believe you even understood it. I do agree some songs lean to the boring side. But you never mention the care obviously put into the lyrics, or, the incredible dynamic and ambiguous nature of their relationship, which is obvious even through just listening. Have an ear.

  2. Gage51 10 January, 2014 at 14:44

    “Big burly dude?” I don’t think Peter Dreimanis is over 5′ 10″ and he’s thin as a rail. And I really disagree with your review. I think the CD starts strong and maintains the whole way through. This is the best new band I’ve heard in years. And if they come to town, don’t walk, run, to see them.

  3. Diggler 17 June, 2014 at 09:59

    Only came across July Talk several weeks ago and was lucky enough to see them play live last night. They were great. Paul, your article is an attack without analysis and is journalism at its worst. I’m with Gage51. July Talk are the best new act that I have heard for some time – the chemistry between Peter and Leah is incredible.

  4. Name (required) 8 July, 2015 at 19:24

    The bug burly dude shit has got me rollin. Do some research before you commence talking out of your ass.

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