Upsidedownbackwards Feels Just Right

Julian Temple Band


Oscillosonic Records, 2013

“I found God in a Liquor Store. . .” Julian Temple declares on ‘Bottle of God.’ And it’s with these sort of overtly painful and honest The Julian Temple Band Art Work (2)declarations about life and living that the Julian Temple Band fills the songs on this, their third full length release.

There’s a rustic quality to the music enhanced by Alex Vaatstra’s exceptional violin playing, as he seem to freely color the songs, painting them by turns loose and liberating.  Calling his brand of music “Surf Noir,” feels somewhat limiting. There’s an earthy, folkiness to it, which feels well traveled and worldly.

This band owes as much to Appalachian folk as it does 90’s indie rock. “Devil On the Other” is another standout track. Julian’s songwriting seems to come to attention when addressing moral dilemmas, real or imagined.  Drummer PMK, creates the right amount of tension with the staggered beat he offers up on this track.  It all feels like it could come apart at any moment, and isn’t the potential unraveling always at the heart of any conflict?

“Sleep,” closes out the disc, and our narrator is surrendering to the inevitable. Breathy and pained, this is what torment sounds like when it becomes relief, or at least resignation.  As dark as the grave and hopeful as spring, this music is a wonderful and unexpected contradiction of emotions as the notes flit by as lighty as sea spray.

Upsidedownbackwards is a subtle and cagey record. It will take more than one listen to make heads or tails of Mr. Temple and his stories of travel, God and alcohol.  Maybe he’s purposefully crafty and wants to keep you guessing. Could be he’s trying to figure it all out as he goes along.