Have you ever checked out new material from an older band who hasn’t put anything out in some time and just felt embarrassed for them? That’s how I felt when I checked out the new EP from Orgy (Available here if you’re interested). Only vocalist Jay Gordon remains of the original line up and with Talk Sick, they’ve managed to tarnish a respectable legacy with juvenile lyrics and songs that simply lack punch.
Gordon may have won the name but he didn’t win the originality or evolution of their initial sound. That went with Ryan Shuck and Amir Derakh who, on their latest album as Julien-K, prove that names mean nothing if you don’t have the talent to back it up.
On the hugely successful Indiegogo-backed California Noir-Chapter One: Analog Beaches & Digital Cities, Julien-K take their sound light years beyond what has come before. Death To Analog and We’re Here With You were both crucial albums but this?!?! If there’s only one Julien-K you need to hear/own/devour then it’s definitely this one. A synthetic masterpiece from start to finish (And this is only Chapter One people!), California Noir takes the edge of DTA, the more electronic aspects of WHWY and injects it all with the most perfect Pop moments making each song instantly unforgettable.
Their sound has morphed into this beautiful “new” New Wave (Is “Nu-Wave” a term yet?) on their latest especially on tracks like “Strange Invisible” and on the title track. “Black Market Machines” is a brute taking the outro riff from “Breakfast In Berlin” and building a complete new song out of it while the acoustic drive of “Cast Into The Sea” sees Shuck’s already smooth vocal delivery delve into Simon LeBon territory during the higher notes (“She’s The Pretender” also has these wonderful Duran Duran moments). “No You Can’t” has an air of “I Ran” to it , “Eviscerate” is 21st Century Bauhaus and if you like to dance then “Deep Beat Underground” will be your new favorite jam at the club.
At the end of it all, there is nothing about California Noir that is forgettable. It’s an accomplishment for the fan support it’s received so far and an accomplishment in the development of Julien-K’s sound and for Shuck, Derakh, and Anthony Vulcic as songwriter/crafters.
If you pledged to the recent Indiegogo campaign, California Noir-Chapter One: Analog Beaches & Digital Cities is available now. For the rest of you, stay tuned to Julien-K on Facebook and Twitter to find out when you can get yours. And be sure not to miss a rare Julien-K East Coast performance on April 24th at The Studio at Webster Hall. Tickets available here.