Jeremy Freer - Piano, Guitar, Vocals
Sarah Myers - Violin, Vocals
Kaylan Mitchell - Cello
Ashton Hopkins - Bass
Jacklyn Phillips - Drums
After the Juliets self titled debut album landed in my most listened to albums last year, I eagerly awaited the release of their follow up, Perfect Season. I had the good fortune to book them for a show at The Chopin (video below), see them play some of the songs they were working on for Perfect Season, and talk with the band. It was great to talk to Jeremy about his influences (Motown) as well as see that he had a big picture view for the band and knew how he wanted to get the band to that place. As far as their sound goes the Juliets are able to blend elements of rock, soul, indie and baroque that all add up to a sound that can only be claimed by them.
Where their self-titled debut was tight and sounded as if they had made it all at once in one massive great session, Perfect Season has an array sounds on it and finds them experimenting with their instruments, as opposed to incorporating other sounds and instruments. Some nuanced turns of the strings are played incredibly capably by Sarah Myers (violin) and Kaylan Mitchell (cello), as evidenced on the song "A Perfect Season". The way they fill the background from the middle to the end of the song is not something you would describe by proclaiming "yes there are strings in there". But the effect on the listener is a rich sound that is accentuated by Jeremy Freer's swooning vocals, light falsetto, and just the right amount of guitar played by Jeremy as well.
The pop punch of "Heart In Heart" is a rollicking track that easily could have been on their first album, although slightly different with the drumming of Jacklyn Phillips, replete with loose marching snare rolls and nice jazz touches as well. Jacklyn just joined the band (didn't play on their first album), and to see her play live was happily surprising due to the way she mixed more traditional rock and hip hop drumming together. Who would have thought?
"The Lost Memory" is a bit of a change up for the band, and a welcomed one at that with waltz timed instrumentals and contributions from the whole band. Hell, if they put out a whole album of this I would really enjoy it.
"You Found Me Out" finds Jeremy's falsetto and piano interplay being accentuated by Ashton Hopkins bass line almost as a call and response. Add short burst of strings and this is a delicious pop nugget that leads you to bob you head with the rhythm.
With as well as Jeremy can write a pop hook and marry it to his piano playing, the one thing that might not scream out at you is the arrangements of these songs. It goes without saying that all the members of this band contribute and do it well. The Juliets have incorporated the strings so well that they sound seamless amongst the sounds of rock music. Add some hip hop drum flavor and Perfect Season is a singular sounding album that you won't be able to stop listening to. I know my wife and I haven't as we listen to this every few days since it came out. This album will be on my most listened to wrap up in a few weeks. The band has this album as a "name your price 0 minimum download". So help them out with some dough if you are able, but above all share their bandcamp link if you like it like I do.
Here's the video for The Juliets performing "Loon" the opening track of Perfect Season. (Dedicated Ears Showcase at Chopin Theatre Chicago on June 19 2010.