Thursday, July 16, 2015

RECORD REVIEW: Jule Vera "Friendly Enemies"

Jule Vera
Friendly Enemies
(Pure Noise Records)

I love it when a new band
makes the scene that exudes
"IT" factor  an indescribable,
yet undeniable quality that
screams, "we may be a side-
stage act on our first tour,
but we're about to become the
biggest band in the world."
In 3, 2, 1 — BOOM!

There I was, minding my own business, making my way from the Beatport stage to the corn dog concession during the July 5th Orlando, Florida date of this summer's Vans Warped Tour. And there they were, five fresh-faced youngins, sporting long hair and form-fitting fashions with low-strung electric guitars and swagger to spare — commanding the Kevin Says stage with all the cock rock confidence of a platinum-selling arena rock act. The intoxicating presence and angelic voice of the band's singer, Ansley Newman, hooked me, while the power of the band's impeccable songs reeled me in. Note to self: Remember Jule Vera. THIS band is gonna be HUGE!

(Orlando, FL - 7.5.15)
I acquired a copy of Friendly Enemies, the debut release from the Alabama-based combo in short order following their explosive Orlando performance. Oozing hypnotic melodies and engaging poetry, combined with enough catchy hooks and crunchy riffs to sink a mid-sized petroleum tanker, this eight-song collection is easily THE best record of 2015 thus far. And in my own personal headspace, it's the shiniest golden treasure I've discovered since Hoobastank's 2009 masterpiece, For(n)ever.

Produced by Mitch ParksFriendly Enemies kicks off with the alluring, "Chemical Machine." A delightful stylistic mixture of Fiona Apple and Tal & Acacia, Newman mesmerizes as she confesses seductively  "This love is radioactive. So much so, it'll keep us distracted. Feels like a chemical machine inside, burning for you and me." Doggonit man, that's good stuff!

Reality check — a band can be literally hemorrhaging "vibe" and "mystique" (and Jule Vera does), but if they ain't got songs, they ain't got jack. And it's that department in which Friendly Enemies delivers the biggest payoff. Simply put, "Light the Night" and "One Little String" are incredible songs well-written, infectious earworms with Buick-sized choruses that are as uplifting as any Praise and Worship powerhouse. Kudos to songwriting collaborators, Mitch Parks and Dustin Burnett.

Just a couple kids on a 
rampage made of love.
We're never getting caught,
don't care if it's dangerous.
Let's make this moment,
so big that we can't hold it.
With hearts so wild
it's scaring me.
(From "Light the Night")

Watch the video for "Light the Night."

Possessing all the compelling charm and heartfelt beauty of a Butch Walker staple, following a sexual reassignment procedure, "Scarlet Letter" is a delicate and elegant, piano-driven gemstone — "Save your roses and all your sweet talk. Boy, you must think you're so clever. But poisonous words give you away, like wearing a scarlet letter." Who writes songs like this anymore? Nobody! And that's what makes Jule Vera greater than any of today's cookie-cutter, comb-over collectives and filth-spewing, basketball jersey-wearing barf bands.

Reinforced by walls of glorious guitar work, the record's title track is heavy, a tad eerie, and proves that a band can have hooks, without compromising cred. Another chilling highlight, to be sure.

Hanging at the Warped Tour
with my new hero, Jule Vera
bassist William Stacey.
(Orlando, FL - 7.5.15)
In sum, Friendly Enemies proves that Jule Vera is, in fact, destined for greatness. That is, as long as they don't give into playing the "trash" card. Today's pop culture / music scene is far too noisy and over-crowed with desperate divas and egomaniacal muzos. If this band continues to stand together, protects their brand and stays the course, they WILL become the biggest band in the world. In 3, 2, 1 BOOM!

-Christopher Long
(July 2015)

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