That headline above this blog post is one that I didn’t expect to write. New Brunswick singer-songwriter Julie Doiron has been writing and recording for quite a while now — she’s just released her eighth album, I Can Wonder What You With Your Day on Jagjaguwar — but I’ve never followed her all that closely. I’ve heard great things about her, but my impression of her was that she sings quiet, melancholy and sometimes somewhat precious indie folk rock. There is some of that sort of stuff on her new record, sing-songy, girly, campfire songs such as “The Life of Dreams” and “Glad to Be Alive.” But there are also several songs that are louder and more energetic.
That side of her music came out in full force Wednesday (June 3) at the Empty Bottle, thanks to Doiron’s engaging playing on the electric guitar, her passionate singing and the loose, Neil Young-esque vibe of her backing band. (Despite the fact that they played with a Neil Young vibe, I didn’t appreciate the guy in the crowd who kept on requesting her to do “Cortez the Killer.” Give it a rest, dude.) Doiron let things get quiet on a couple of tunes, but for the most part, it really was a rock show, and a quite good one at that. And she came off as a very nice and approachable person in her good-natured comments in between the songs.
The first band of the night was a local outfit called A Lull, who put an quite impressive set of elegant and lovely rock songs accented by trumpet and occasionally pounded into the floor with drums, drums and more drums. There were four drummers in this group (if you include the guy playing trumpet plus drums), so this is one group you can definitely throw into the “Drum Circle” school of indie rock. There was an ethereal quality to the songs reminiscent of atmospheric bands like Efterklang and Grizzly Bear. And when the songs fell into a percussive groove, it sounded pretty darn cool. So far, A Lull has released just an EP, Ice Cream Bones, but I’m eager to hear more. Check them out at www.myspace.com/alullmusic
The middle band on the bill was the Night Owl Choir. In their softer moments, they reminded me a bit of the chilled-out alt-country band Acetone. The Night Owl Choir was pretty good, showing some promise, though perhaps they could stand to add a few more colors to their musical palette.