I originally came across the video for “Paper girl” quite by accident, while searching for something else, and was so enthralled that I thoroughly forgot what that something was. In the video (and the song), Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay, the nucleus of July Talk, play upon multiple levels of dichotomy: rough/smooth vocals, ugly/cute attitudes, old/new sound, male/female gender identities, and well, you get the picture. The video pits the vocalists (and their alter egos) against each other, him loud and brash and her delicate but defiant. It’s fun to watch play out again and again.
July Talk are an alternative rock band based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The story of their formation in the bio that used to appear on their website smacked of the stuff of legend: boy hears girl singing in a smoky bar in the early hours of the morning, decides she’s his muse, tracks her down and they form a band. They rounded out said band and sound with Ian Docherty (guitar), Josh Warburton (bass), and Danny Miles (drums). The group has released three studio albums since forming in 2012, each garnering them more and more fans, but in my opinion, neither of the latter two can touch the excellence and originality of the self titled debut.
Much of “July Talk” mines another era for its blues infused chaotic sound but brings its anachronism into the new millennia. The growling and gnarling Tom Waits interplay with the bedroom confessional popster that holds her own is a story that runs throughout the album but “Paper girl” as track three is the shining example. It takes the Pixies’ loud-quiet-loud structure to extreme, seesawing between dirty and aggressive guitars and drums and angelic keyboards. And just like the duelling vocals in a certain song by The Pogues, the Dreimanis and Fay personas rail and thrash at each other, just before they fall passionately and resignedly into each other’s arms.
“Yeah, it must be hard
To watch your body growing old”
“And I’ll be laughing in your head until I want to stop
And if you think it’s your turn to explain yourself, it’s not”
It’s a song for turning up loudly when there’s no one else around and for singing along with to both parts because neither is right and neither is wrong but together they work.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2012 list, click here.