Local (by way of France) singer-songwriter Julie Meckler celebrates the release of her debut, full-length album Queenshead Thursday night at The Hideout...
About five years ago, Julie Meckler left behind a life as a theater actress in Paris, France immigrating to the United States and embarking on a North American trip that would see her catch a glimpse of cities like Buffalo, Detroit, Portland and Vancouver before settling on Chicago.
But as Meckler readies the release of her debut album Queenshead, it would appear that one of the most crucial moments of that initial foray may have been the purchase of her first guitar in New York city.
Queenshead is an interesting album - one containing moments of brash guitar and immediacy and others that reward full immersion in the project and multiple listens.
Citing artists like Portishead, Mazzy Star and Beach House on her Facebook page gives the curious a glimpse of only part of what lies beyond the surface of Queenshead (a song like "All You Pretty Things" a great indication of the influence and sound of those bands).
A cover of David Bowie's "Soul Love" comes early on the new album. The key to any great cover is the ability of the interpreting artist to make it their own. On Meckler's version of the 1972 Ziggy Stardust classic, a slowed down tempo more closely resembles "The Girl From Ipanema" than it does "The Thin White Duke." Gone from Meckler's version are the cutting guitar licks of Mick Ronson and in their place what seems to be a hint of squeezebox.
The album's immediacy is most well revealed not in that cover but in one of it's last tracks. "Forest," the album's quickest, catchiest listen, is powered by low-fi electric guitar and carries with it a pop sensibility unlike anything else on the album. It's the song you're most likely to hear on the radio (and maybe you already have as WXRT's Richard Milne gave it a spin last Sunday on his long-running Chicago music showcase, "Local Anesthetic").
"The Cigarettes Song" and the album's title track both name check "the windy city," but it's the diversity found on Queenshead that might just be it's most appealing attribute. "Manhattan" is a stripped down affair built upon acoustic guitar that enhances Meckler's heart-on-sleeve lyrics (vocals, at least on this track, not all that far removed from Amy Winehouse), while "Laissez-Moi" consists solely of French spoken word (a nice precursor to the acoustic finger picking and Piaf influenced French lyrics found on "The Dresses Song").
The album isn't devoid of rock though either. "Desire" starts with almost a noir like feel before cymbals crash and the bass rolls, culminating in a sense of urgency driven by rollicking layers of electric guitar not unlike P.J. Harvey's finer moments. Repeated listens offer sparkling keyboards that percolate just below the surface - the reward for such a deep dive. Finally, the album culminates in the epic, six minute, slide-guitar driven cacophony of sound that is "Deportation Blues."
Joined on Queenshead by bassist Brett Bakshis (Wooden Rings, Musikanto), guitarist Will Phalen, guest guitarist Ryan Anderson (Go Long Mule), trumpeter James Davis (ALDRIC, Zing!), and drummer/percussionist Shawn Rios (Stolen Silver, Dick Prall), the project leaves me intrigued to see just what kind of sounds Meckler can conjure up in the live setting Thursday night at Hideout.
(Details on Thursday's show after the jump)
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(Queenshead Album Release Party)
1354 West Wabansia Avenue
Chicago, IL 60642
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Doors open at 7:30PM
Show starts at 8:30PM
Also performing: The Blue Ribbon Glee Club and Roy Ivy
Click HERE to purchase tickets