Sound Advice: July Talk with Mona (Feb. 10)

Canadian AltRockers July Talk play MOTR Pub.

click to enlarge July Talk - Photo: Provided
Photo: Provided
July Talk
Toronto rockers July Talk have been on a gradual but unstoppably steady climb since their formation in 2012. That year saw the initial release of the band’s self-titled debut album on Canadian indie label Sleepless Records; the album proved to have a lengthy shelf life. Coupled with the group’s intense and jubilant live show, July Talk was released (in an extended version) on Universal Music Canada in 2013. The wider distribution and growing acclaim led to an Alternative Album of the Year win at the Junos (Canada’s Grammys) and a U.S. release on Island Records in 2015. 

Late last year, July Talk’s second full-length effort, Touch, was released internationally. The extensive worldwide touring since the band’s formation is evident in the album’s amplification of everything that is great about July Talk’s energetic sound — sexy, pulsating rhythms, strong Pop hooks galore, a Rock & Roll swagger that doesn’t quit and the alluring tandem of singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay. 

There really isn’t any other male/female duo to which the pair compares (maybe a 21st-cenury Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash?) — Dreimanis has a growling rasp so thick and raw it makes Bruce Springsteen’s sound like a church-choir boy, while Fay has a gorgeous (but never wispy or fey) Pop lilt. The twosome doesn’t really rely on harmonizing so much as trading off parts to create an unusual but effective vocal assault. 

Musically, the band bops with a New Wave herk-and-jerk one minute, then bristles with a throbbing Blues/Rock grind the next. The constantly changing shades within the music are masterfully combined for a unique listening experience that will leave you aching to witness the chemistry of the band in a live setting. 

Touch also has a compelling thematic arc — exploring the place of IRL human connection in a world full of increased distractions. That theme is laid out directly in the closing title track, a slow-strutting, spacious epic that July Talk had been playing together for a few years. As the song’s lyrics (including the refrain, “We get so tired and lonely/We need a human touch/Don’t want to give ourselves away too much/T-t-t-touch”) were refined to resemble its current incarnation, it paved the way for the album’s overall theme. 

“We didn’t know what the song was about until we really needed it,” Dreimanis recently told Cleveland’s Scene. “As a result, the whole record started to come together as this idea of focusing on human touch. This song developed as a way to show what people are afraid of and making yourself vulnerable. It’s about just standing naked in front of somebody and why we are all so afraid of that. It’s about accepting that reality and restating it… and how sacred the vulnerability might be.”

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