CD REVIEW: Julia and the Dream - Julia and the Dream
By Cyrus Rhodes - 01/30/2012 - 12:04 AM EST
Artist: Band: Julia and the Dream
Label: Independent Artist
Sounds Like: Superchunk, Mazzy Star, Cowboy Junkies
Best Songs: Baby, I Can’t Say, Little Ditty, Blasphemy
Weakness: A few hot mixing touches
Friday Harbor Washington 5 piece Alternative rock band “Julia and the Dream” releases their debut seld titled CD in 2011. Band members include Julia Maas (Vocals), Tawm Perkowski (Guitar, Drums), Gabriel Keenan Maas (Lead Guitar), Jessie Kansanbach (Bass) and Brad Dolsen (Drums).
The CD quickly takes to flight with “Colors” a dynamic intro piece that serves up steady rock rhythm, well placed guitar ambience, against hooky vocal melody from Maas that peaks and valleys its way through to emotional fruition. Track 2 “Let it Go” is a hooky guitar groove that shifts gears a bit with a driving rock rhythm meshed against infectious vocal vibe, and catchy chorus. This piece is quite impressive with its demonstrating impressive Alternative Rock, Jam Band virtuoso from Maas and company. Track 3 shifts keeps things moving in the right direction with “Balloon” a hooky-rock groove that delivers mesmerizing guitar ambience against thought provoking lyrical content against heartfelt vocal delivery from Maas. As this CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical soundscapes reminiscent of classic acts such as Mazzy Star, R.E.M. Cowboy Junkies, 10,000 Maniacs and maybe a splash of the Bjork and Superchunk. The music itself is an impressive blend of modern Jam Band with elements of classic R&B with an Alternative Rock aftertaste. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Along the way you will notice instrumentation with things like lush harmonies, impressive slide and solo guitar chops, against a rock steady rhythm section. I especially like the occasional timing curveball thrown out by Maas and company. Turning our attention squarely on Maas - she has an impressive voice reminiscent of Blork, Natalie Merchant and Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star). I might add Maas takes several vocal risks throughout the CD indicating to me a song and confident vocal ability. Kudos goes out to the impressive fretwork from Gabriel Heenan Maas. The songwriting is rock solid as provides a lot of musical variety. I can honestly say I was entertained the entire time, with never a dull moment to be found. From bluesy “Baby, I Can’t Say” and Salvador Dall” to psychedelic Mountains” to rocking In “This Storm” and “Little Ditty” to dynamic “Blasphemy” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with “Measure” the perfect finale piece for a CD of this caliber.
It’s hard to find any noticeable weaknesses with this production. Looking at some of the Mixing frequencies on SOUNDFORGE it’s fair to say some of the cymbal strikes and distorted guitar tracks sit a bit hot in the mix. For the most part everything stay within the fairway - mixwise.
From start to finish Julia and the Dream is an impressive catalogue of music. The music is very consistent, well-crafted and extremely entertaining. It’s got a solid Jam Band, Alternative Rock feel yet with an unmistakable Washington State aftertaste. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire catalogue. The production strokes: writing and playing abilities of these 5 are rock solid. The melodies and harmonies are well crafted and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with rich conventional wisdom, and the vocal presence of Maas just brings it all together.
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