ATP! Essential Listening: Julia Brown
to be close to you was eloquently produced with a tape recorder they’ve used since 2010, laptop microphones and a boombox. To do so, Sam Ray, Alec Simke and John Toohey got together soon after Ray and Simke’s band Teen Suicide decided to call it quits (for reasons still not entirely known), pulled together a few friends and recorded eight Julia Brown songs that are poetically damaged and, as they’ve made very clear on their Tumblr page, quite deliberate.
Subtle magnetic warps in the tape make tracks that are pretty haunting and displaced, yet somehow romantically sweet. Moments like on “how i spent my summer” offer the most dramatic vision of what a tape recorder brings to a finished album with rough splices and a muffled beat that forces you inside the song.
Some tracks like opener 'i’m falling in love' are brief productions with dirty drums and sound cuts like a creepy laugh-slash-cough. Others, like the album’s title track, are less terrifying and more endearing as a homemade love song, the equivalent of a Polaroid in audio form. Overall, Julia Brown have opened up their hopefully long-lived career with an appropriate backdrop to the act of waiting for spring to arrive. Don’t mistake their hand-crafted sound for amateur musicianship, and don’t equate their delicate simplicity for plainness.
Julia Brown have also recently featured their song ‘nobody’ on a four-way split, the proceeds of which will be donated to V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women (the split was released this Valentine’s Day via Topshelf Records). Despite the good deed, the band itself is pretty obscure and doesn’t seem to prioritize popularity and “image” despite having a good sense of humor and taking their music dead-seriously. With the release of their new album the band are planning to tour, so fans will be eager to hear how Julia Brown translate their recordings on stage.
- Words by Carolyn Vallejo