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It's the Summer of 2006, I'm in Hyde Park for the Foo Fighters gig - the support acts were Motorhead, a very forgettable Angels and Airwaves, and a band I had never heard of: Juliette & The Licks.
From the moment they walk out on stage it is obvious that Juliette is in fact Juliette Lewis, the star of movies such as Natural Born Killers and From Dusk Till Dawn. The Licks, and JL in particular, completely rocked the stage and for me a lifelong love affair was born. Loud, Quirky, Rock(y) - this band contained everything I look for in a group and boy could Lewis own the stage when performing, she may not be classically beautiful but when I saw her performing her songs with such passion I fell deeply in lust!
2 years and 2 LPs (You're Speaking My Language and Four On The Floor) and The Licks decided to split and pursue other projects. Out of these ashes rose the album Terra Incognita from her new band The New Romantiques.
Produced by Omar Rodriguez Lopez of The Mars Volta fame, this is a definite change in style for JL and Lopez' influence can definitely be heard - there is a definite Mars Volta vibe about a few of the songs and some of them have a slight Latin feel. The track listing runs as follows:
Intro (this runs into the next song)
Noche Sin Fin
Hard Lovin Woman
All Is For Good
Suicide Dive Bombers
Highlights for me include Noche Sin Fin (very Licks-esque) and Hard Lovin Woman which in my opinion is a musical triumph - very mid-West, old school Blues and shows off her voice fantastically. Romeo did nothing for me but if I was to compare it to anything then I would suggest that the track would not seem out of place on a Bjork album.
As per usual, this album is available on CD or as a digital download from various outlets - HMV, Play.com, iTunes etc and with a CD available for around £9 I would definitely recommend this to anyone familiar with The Licks or Mars Volta and to anyone looking to discover a new band. It is by no means the perfect album but it has enough highlights to make it worthwhile.
I first heard of Juliette Lewis' music career in 2004 when she stormed the music scene with her band The Licks. They released an EP (Like A Bolt of Lightning) and 2 albums (You're Speaking My Language and Four On The Floor). At the start of 2009, my heart was broken as the band decided to go their separate ways. Out of the ashes, rose Juliette Lewis and her new album; Terra Incognita.
The album is a long way away from her previous work with Juliette and The Licks, it's more grown up and you can certainly hear the influence of Omar Rodriguez Lopez (from The Mars Volta) who produced the album. Terra Incognita means 'unknown territory' in Latin and I think Juliette has ventured into it, but she's done it perfectly. I can't help but miss Juliette and The Licks, although there a few songs that are reminiscent of the good ol' days!
I feel like the album starts off being very Mars Volta-ish (amazing band by the way, even better live), then it goes into Juliette & The Licks kind of music, then settles into a nice medium between the two. I like that it does this, it makes each song individual which is exactly what Juliette Lewis wanted.
I really like the album art and I bought the CD instead of buying it from iTunes especially for it. The cover art is a picture of Juliette Lewis (look extremely skinny, may I say!) pulling a bull with a colourful rope. There are black crows in the background and humming bird with light shining from it. It's a very interesting cover and you spend a long time looking at all the different aspects of it.
Inside the booklet are various pictures of landscapes which look magical and are saturated with colours. There is also a picture of Juliette and Omar and a picture of Juliette performing.
I would definitely recommend purchasing the actual CD so you can look at the beautiful art, it just isn't the same looking at it on your screen.
There are 12 completely different, interesting songs on this album; Intro, Noche Sin Fin, Terra Incognita, Hard Lovin' Woman, Fantasy Bar, Romeo, Ghosts, All Is For God, Female Persecution, Uh Huh, Junkyard Heart, Suicide Dive Bombers.
This is part of the the next song; 'Noche Sin Fin', but it is shown as a separate track on the track listing so I'll review it as a separate song. You can really hear the influence of TMV (The Mars Volta) on this track with the echoey vocals from Juliette and the music. The lyrics are dark and haunting with references to 'bloodied walls' and a killer.
Noche Sin Fin
This track is blended seamlessly with the intro with the drums marking the start of the song. It sounds quite off-beat and not very melodic, in a good way. Juliette's vocals are excellent, they're passionate and you can tell she's putting her all into this. It's fast paced and full of energy!
This is the title track and it is really great. It's different, but it has touches of Juliette and The Licks. This track's had an enormous energy injection, it just keeps going without any hint of stopping! All the various parts of the track go so well together; the drums, the guitar and Juliette's vocals. It's such a great track, enjoyable for both Juliette and The Lick's lovers and new fans of Juliette's work.
Hard Lovin' Woman
This track reminds me a lot of Natural Born Killers, an amazing movie that Juliette starred in. The lyrics and her vocals are sexy, it's slower than the other songs so far but it still doesn't lack the oomph that they all provide! Juliette's voice sounds so raw and as though you're in the exact same room as her. A really, really great song.
This is the most Juliette & The Licks sounding song on the album; it's up-beat and catchy. The lyrics are definitely not like J&TL at all, they're darker and more grown-up. I can't describe it, but you feel totally involved with this song. You can feel the energy of it pulsing through you. This is one of my favourite songs on the album, not just because it's so reminiscent of J&TL - it's just a truly awesome song.
This track starts off sounding very much like The Mars Volta, the drums then kick in along with the melody and it turns into a beautiful love song. Although Juliette's voice doesn't have as much energy as with other songs, it's no less powerful. The lyrics are wonderful.
This starts off sounding quite digital, along with a bass then kicks in Juliette's voice, it sounds beautiful and powerful. This is a haunting and emotional song, you can really feel the emotion in Juliette's voice. Although, I quite dislike the backing vocals for this song - they just don't seem to fit. The rest of it is great though.
All Is For God
Another of my favourite songs on the album, this is a strong and powerful song, full of anger and emotion. It's quite hard hitting with Juliette's vocals sounding so unbelievably raw. In this album, it's mainly been the music that has sounded quite like The Mars Volta but towards the end of the song, Juliette's vocals are really similar to them. It's really different for her and I'm sure it would've been 'terra incognita' for her, but it sounds amazing.
This is a very spooky sounding song with instruments which sound quite backwards. In the CD booklet, it doesn't have the lyrics for this particular song, instead it says 'Refer to history on the record and off and most conventional religious texts. All forms of male dominated governments'. This is a song which you really just have to sit down and listen to and understand. It isn't a song for people who only enjoy the superficiality of pop and as it's a real thinking song.
I really, really dislike this song. It sounds kind of country and a bit like bubblegum pop. The actual lyrics are alright, but the rest of it is sickly sweet. It's not something I enjoy and it's a bit laughable that this song's on this album compared to the rest of the music. This one should have been missed out. It seems as though she was trying so hard to get each track different that she thought she should put this in just because it's so different from the rest. It doesn't fit in with this album, but it wouldn't be out of place during a love scene in a teen musical.
This still has hints of the previous disaster but is a bit better. This time it's only really Juliette's voice at some points you can smell the sickly sweetness... but it's mostly a good song. I really like the lyrics for this song and when it gets rid of the sweetness, it's good. There's even an ok sounding guitar solo! When you have the solo going on, Juliette shouting and the drums it sounds energetic and powerful. If it was like throughout, it would have been up there in my favourites, but sadly it has a poor start.
Suicide Dive Bombers
This is a really weird song, it starts off acoustic then it turns into one of those 'end of music' songs which you hear when the credits roll, then it changes again into the bit in the movie when the person's thinking about the other person and it's raining. It seems as though it's not able to decide whether it's uplifting or depressing. Generally, it's a good song and I think it ends the album wonderfully.
It's a really great album apart from a couple of bad tracks, but they don't really take away from the general greatness of the album. I think Juliette has done a great job of branching out from her safe zone that she had with Juliette and The Licks, it's worked wonderfully and makes for an excellent, interesting album.
The album art is really impressive and worth the trip to your local music shop to buy it.
You can buy this album from your usual suspects; Amazon, Play.com, HMV, etc. If you want to see if this album is for you, you can listen to little snippets of various songs on Juliette's MySpace.
It may take a while to get into this album, especially if you're a Juliette & The Licks fun, but it's worth listening to it a few times as you will be astounding by how great this album is.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Intro - 1:01
2 Noche Sin Fin - 4:08
3 Terra Incognita - 3:23
4 Hard Lovin' Woman - 4:54
5 Fantasy Bar - 4:05
6 Romeo - 4:15
7 Ghosts - 3:02
8 All Is For God - 2:31
9 Female Persecution - 5:51
10 Uh Huh - 3:10
11 Junkyard Heart - 4:57
12 Suicide Dive Bombers - 4:56