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Ein Neuer Tag

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

December 22, 2006
To safeguard my journalistic integrity I should disclose, up front, that a number of people have pointed out to me that Juli's drummer, one Marcel Römer, is my mother's cousin's son - or something like that. Sort of like your mother's monkey's uncle, but not as bizarre.

Regardless of any twice-removed family ties (as far as I know I've ever made Römer's formal acquaintance), I've been mulling this over a bit and, after some deliberation, I'm just going to put this out there: Juli are the German answer to Bloc Party. By that I mean that the quintet do not necessarily bring anything groundbreakingly new to the post-OK Computer landscape, which shouldn't be held against them (I think that everyone from The Hold Steady to Destroyer made a point of validating that approach this year). But what Juli do bring is the goods, and they bring them in spades.

From the get-go Ein Neuer Tag is loaded to the teeth, the band's commercial-ready single "Dieses Leben" bursting out of the gate like so many "Little Thoughts," but equipped with twice the finesse. The band's vibe harkens back to that glimmery twilight era, circa the late nineties and early double-aughts, when a gaggle of nerds with guitars (and maybe a drummer) could crank out reverberating six-string jams rich enough to make the sound of the day resonate like one of those really poignant/clever moments from Dawson's Creek or something. The songs weren't weird or experimental - there were no farfisas, accordions, looped cello samples or, heaven forbid, a bowed saw - and they didn't need to be. Just twin guitars playing call-and-response over the din of a rhythm section that would probably be replaced en masse within the week.

Yeah, Juli is kind of like that, part of the species descended, probably unknowingly, from ancients like Dinosaur Jr. and more recent icons like Weezer and their ilk. Straight outta Giessen, Juli occupy that pristine pitch of middle ground ala Bloc Party, where the dudes in the band are still the tight bros from way back when and if someone happens to shake their ass or raise a fist in solidarity during a quasi-solo and inadvertently slop some beer on your aged-to-perfection secondhand t-shirt, it's no biggie. Except whereas Bloc Party is fronted by some guy who looks eerily like this box urchin that used to slang crack rocks near the Schnucks at the corner of Del Mar and Forest Park in St. Louis (the "Most Dangerous City in America" - represent), Juli's rock is overwhelmed by a whispery contrail of angelic vocals, and they're not about junk food or the price of gas.

Okay, so enough of the Bloc Party references; did I mention that Juli frontwoman Miriam Adameit delivers her carpe diem anthems and tales of estranged love auf Deutsche? While native tongues have become more commonplace (and even exotically savored in some instances) in the global music cannon during the age of the Internet, to the uninitiated German isn't exactly easy on the ears. On the contrary, der Volkssprache is hardly Icelandic or even Indian, almost entirely devoid of any rhythmic beauty or melodic grace, as anyone who has heard a Gerhard Schroeder speech at the United Nations can attest. Yet, in spite of all the harsh -sch sounds that her native tongue entails, Adameit seduces the listener through both raucous yells ("Ein Neuer Tag") and plaintive half-whispers ("Egal Wohin"), until all ears are hers. Graceful and fluid, I can assure you that her voice is commanding, regardless of the language.

Any review of Ein Neuer Tag would be remiss in not pointing out that Juli's guitars - which are always front and center, spit-shined and ready for inspection - often mimic the deepest cuts from artists of yore, and that includes Jawbox to U2 and everything in between. And, like any album that honestly shows a band cutting its adult teeth, there are a few awkward moments (such as the ill-conceived new-wave flavor of "Am Besten Sein") interspersed here and there, but for the most part Juli's second album is the real deal.

One of the best things about Ein Neuer Tag is it's sleeper quality - given enough spins, almost every track has mixtape potential, the title of favorite rotating regularly. For every hiccup and growing pain there is in turn an unexpected yet deftly delivered surprise like the laidback closer "Ein Gruß," a track which is a slight contrast to the flavor of the album as a whole but could nonetheless find a comfortable home on a dramatic film soundtrack. Oh, and as a bonus "Ein Gruß" - which makes some excellent overtures to Notwist's Neon Golden - has a nice hidden track tucked away after some seven minutes of silence. How's that for a throwback to 1995?

Granted, there are no singular moments of musical epiphany to be found here - I think Beruit's Gulag Orkestar took care of that for 2006 - but like the UK band overly-referenced herein, this German 5-piece serves up a potent reminder that the tried and true format of bass, drums, guitars and vocals can deliver up a little bit of salvation when properly channeled. The general public still has six weeks to sit tight until A Weekend in the City drops (it's great, by the way), so in the meantime why doesn't everyone hop online and track down a copy of Ein Neuer Tag? Even at import prices, it's worth the risk for anyone lamenting the glory days of the rock band.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth



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