Julie & The Wrong Guys is east coast legend Julie Doiron’s most recent project. The Eric’s Trip alumna has teamed up with indie folk rocker Eamon McGrath, and Mike Peters and Jaye Schwarzer of Toronto-based hardcore band, Cancerbats, to form Julie & The Wrong Guys. On September 9th, they released their first full album: the self-titled Julie & The Wrong Guys.
The album wasn’t the band’s debut, though. They’ve been working together since 2011. Last year they made an impact with a 7-inch vinyl release of ‘Farther From You’. The title track reappears on Julie & The Wrong Guys, but it was the single ‘Homeless’ that got our attention. A plausible mission statement, Julie emotes, “I used to be great, yeah I used to be good. I had people, good people, to love me,” over an exciting reworking of ‘House of the Rising Sun’. It’s crusty, intimate, full of guts and bravely challenging a barroom standard in a way that is both fresh and familiar.
Eleven months later, the teaser has turned into the full blown reality of a complete album, but had the challenge of living up to the promise of Homeless.
Right away, the album launches in with the high energy ‘Love And Leaving’ and ‘You Wanted What I Wanted’, a track the band co-wrote about the frustrations of having to start over again that is somewhat reminiscent of Nada Surf. Then it’s ‘Condescending You’, ‘Heartbeats’, ‘Tracing My Own Lines’, etc. Their sound draws heavily on early grunge, and after the excitement of the first couple songs it feels like the band really just want to maintain those unrelenting levels.
Doiron’s strength has long been her live performances and an ability resonate with intimacy amidst a crowd. But in the context of The Wrong Guys, it doesn’t come across in this album. Understandably, given their individual roots, it’s a much heavier album than we’re used to seeing from Doiron—in a long while, anyway. It’s not that we’re constantly yearning for that intimacy, but at times it feels like the lyrics and melody both come second to that intensity.
There’s an obvious symbiotic bittersweetness as Doiron’s voice is paired with a solid wall of guitar, but like salted-caramel, you don’t expect a 1:1 ratio. As a result the album often becomes repetitive; one long chorus with the occasional interjection, broken up by intros. It’s perfect if you need a constant state of overwhelming white noise tinged with angst, suitable for drowning out any thoughts. Rather than standout tracks, we’re left with standout moments that rouse us out of the album’s hypnotic drone: that initial punch of ‘You Wanted What I Wanted’, the bittersweet remembrances of ‘Tracing My Own Lines’, and that crescendo in the middle of ‘Hope Floats’.
Julie & The Wrong Guys is not a breakup album, but an anti-depressant, the auditory equivalent of a serotonin-norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitor.
09-07-17 Toronto, ON – The Horseshoe
09-08-17 Guelph, ON – eBar
09-09-17 Hamilton, ON – Supercrawl
09-21-17 Windsor, ON – Phog Lounge
09-22-17 London, ON – Call The Office
09-23-17 Vankleek Hill, ON – Beau’s Oktoberfest
09-30-17 Victoria, BC – Lucky Bar
10-01-17 Vancouver, BC – The Cobalt
10-02-17 Kelowna, BC – Fernando’s
10-03-17 Rossland, BC – Flying Steamshovel
10-05-17 Red Deer, AB – International Beer Haus
10-06-17 Calgary, AB – Palomino
10-07-17 Edmonton, AB – Up + Downtown Festival