Hey everyone! I promised you a long time ago (shameless of me, I know) that I would write an article which sheds light on why I named my blog Cruel Daze of Summer. Well, here it is. Whenever I decided to make a blog of mine, I had a hard time thinking of an appropriate name, which I like and doesn’t seem corny or already taken. At that time I was listening to a newfound musical love of mine – the electro/rock band Julien-K. As I was banging my head against the wall for a name, the next song came up – my favourite song off the album called Cruel Daze of Summer and then it struck me – it’s perfect!
Since Julien-K inspired my blog and many of my creative inclinations, I’ve decided to dedicate an article to the Californian quartet. The project initially started off as an experiment. Two of the members – Ryan Shuck and Amir Derakh were previously in the synthrock/death pop band Orgy (I highly recommend). Although the band was a smash, a total hit for its time, after the release of their last album Punk Static Paranoia, the band members, specifically Jay Gordon, Ryan Shuck and Amir Derakh, had creative difference and decided to go on hiatus. Shuck and Darakh established Julien-K along with Brandon Belski and Elias Andra in 2003. Things have changed significantly since then. On the one hand, Belski left Julien-K due to creative difference and Andra has taken a break from showbiz and decided to dedicate his full attention to his family. On the other, Anthony ‘Fu’ Valcic and Frank Zummo joined in on the fun and helped shape the group’s future sound.
The L.A. rockers should be proud with their two albums Death to Analog and We’re Here with You and a notable EP called SDS Sessions V.1. What’s their musical genre, you ask? – the most accurate description would be a mix of alternative rock, electronic, dance and synthrock. Might sound a bit unconventional and all over the place but it’s a sure winner in my book. Julien-K’s music has that effortless cool sound which many strive to achieve but rarely do.
Without noticing, if you’re new to the band, you’ve probably heard their track Technical Difficulties on the Transformers’ OST. J-K has been supporting multiple big acts such as Linkin Park on their Project Revolution Tour in 2007, Evanescence‘s Open Door tour and Mindless Self-Indulgence in 2008. The Cali rockers have had three European Tours of their own.
Let’s talk about their two albums for a bit. Death to Analog was very versatile, enjoyable and dynamic. It possessed Orgy’s harder and a bit more aggressive synthrock sound. I would attribute it to the fact that it kind of served as a bridge to the fan base from Orgy to Julien-K. It created a softer transition for them as it wasn’t a radically different type of sound.
We’re Here with You has been labelled as the sophomore slump cliché, which I totally object to. Their second album was an evolution from Death to Analog, it was a pleasant and welcome change. Most of Orgy’s influence was removed in this album. What characterises We’re Here with You? – Shuck’s silky smooth (I’d add eargasmic) vocals and electronic sound that exudes sexiness! It’s got everything – from the dance floor smashers We’re Here with You and Breakfast in Berlin to the mellow-sounding I’ll Try Not to Destroy You and Nights of Future Past. Even though it’s a bit shorter than DTA (10 songs) it doesn’t lack quality. You know the saying – better to have quality rather than quantity 😉 Yes, it might be lighter on the rock side and more electronic but it’s well crafted, the songs flow perfectly into each other and the guys are passionate about this project.
One initiative of J-K’s that I would love to mention is the contest that they organised for their fans – the best remixed version of Cruel Daze of Summer would win a fantastic assortment of presents that would send every hardcore music fan into a frenzy – gear from Logitech, Yamaha, Zildjian and Blue Microphones. The judging panel consisted of… surprise, surprise – Julien-K’s members, of course 😀
They were hard to please judges but fair, nevertheless – the grand prize winner created an astonishing remix, which in my opinion won the contest fair and square! If you’d like to have a look, go to https://beta.indabamusic.com/opportunities/julien-k-cruel-daze-of-summer-remix-contest/winners and enjoy 😉
There’s no excuse to not give Julien-K a try. You cannot ignore the sultry romantic brand of electronics mixed with powerful rock hooks (credit goes out to Regenmag on this one 😉 ).
Definitely a band that you should put in the must hear – must see list if you’re hooked on band such as Orgy. If you haven’t heard of Orgy, I’d advise you to check their music because it takes you to a whole other place.
Giving credit where credit’s due – http://regenmag.com/interviews/julien-k-interview-daze-not-so-cruel/ 😉
Here are a few of their videos:
We’re Here with You
Cruel Daze of Summer
Night of Future Past
Breakfast in Berlin
Kick the Bass